Efrat Schorr and her children Moshe (left) and Penina visit the Maktesh Ramon in the Negev in southern Isreal.
"Mom, am I always going to have a hearing loss?" What a good question! Way to go for my son, then 8 years old—and whoa for me! How should a parent answer such an important question?
I trained as a developmental psychologist at the University of Maryland, graduating in 2005. I discovered that few mental health professionals focus specifically on children with hearing loss.
My research on the social and emotional development of children with cochlear implants was inspired by my son, who was born with hearing loss. Between my personal experience as a mother and my research background, I hoped that I could help parents who were struggling with similar social and emotional issues.
When I moved to Israel, I wondered how to keep up my relationships with families I had met and share the strategies that I had developed. The Internet has made this possible. After I got over my technology intimidation, I launched a website a year ago. I started connecting with families from all over the world who are dealing with similar issues while parenting their children with hearing loss.
From the start, my own family and friends were supportive. Now people I have never met write to me and share questions and comments. One parent asked how to teach her child to swim if the child's hearing aids can't get wet; another wondered how to help her child cope with the stress of his cochlear implant failing. Every question I've received is truly important in the lives of children and has a real impact on the whole family. I hope that this online conversation helps families find answers to their questions. It also can offer more information to hearing and speech professionals when social and emotional issues affect their clients.
I am trying hard to get acclimated in Israel. Fortunately, there are excellent services available to families of children with hearing loss. The law entitles every child (who is an appropriate candidate) to one cochlear implant and there is work underway to change the law to two cochlear implants. I sit on the board of A.V. Israel, the auditory-verbal organization trying to spread the word about auditory-verbal therapy for children with hearing loss. There is still plenty of work to be done but there is good reason to be optimistic.