Alison Freeman, Ph.D.
Ca Lic#: PSY 10597
(310) 712-1200
Counseling for families of Deaf and Hard-Of-Hearing Individuals

Hearing loss affects individuals in various ways, each with their unique issues from the newly diagnosed child to the adult who has lost hearing as a result of a brain tumor to the senior citizen who has hearing loss as a result of aging. Even within the parameters of childhood hearing loss, there is a wide range of educational opportunities from mainstreaming to the self contained classroom.  Parents must deal with the overwhelming array of choices in educational methodologies such as cued speech, total communication, auditory-verbal training and DHH self contained classrooms.

Adults  with late onset hearing loss from illness, accidents or hereditary factors must deal with the  grief and the loss of control that often comes with it.   Many symptoms of hearing loss in older people can often be confused with Alzheimer’s such as disorientation (due to balance problems),  depression, isolation, forgetfulness (due to not hearing the original information), and social withdrawal.  Families with aging parents often don’t know whether to speak louder, or enunciate more or, worse, assume that the person has become senile or is showing signs of dementia.

Whatever the challenge may be, counseling can help individuals and their families learn to adjust to how hearing loss affects them in more positive ways. This is especially important as it is often the spouse and/or the family that seeks help first.  Counseling can help family members bring up their concerns in a productive manner.

 

For mental health professionals

Psychological and educational assessment with a professional who is knowledgeable about deafness and/or is fluent in sign language is vitally important in making appropriate educational and mental health decisions.  Due to language delays, an appropriate test battery needs to include many non-verbal measures to prevent misdiagnosis.  Each assessment is individually tailored to the needs of the person requesting it.  Oftentimes, I am able to utilize assessment measures that other school psychologists or professionals don’t have. 

In addition to psychoeducational assessement, I offer adjunctive services to other mental health professionals when issues of abuse or trauma continue to be unresolved.  Specific to trauma work, I am certified as an EMDR practitioner, which can be especially helpful in utilizing non-verbal techniques  with your deaf or hard of hearing client. 

 

For educators: assessment and parent support groups

Deaf and hard of hearing children often have delayed achievement along with typical language delays which can be mistaken for low intelligence. As such, psychoeducational assessment can particularly useful in determining the interrelationship between innate potential and academic achievement.  An assessment with a specialist in deafness can help make the appropriate placement i.e. mainstreaming, self-contained classroom or the need for additional services for other learning disabilities.

A particularly critical component to successful academic performance is parental involvement.  Research shows a direct correlation with performance and parental involvement. As a strong believer in the power of family support, I have led numerous groups for parents of deaf and hard of hearing children with a major focus on helping to distinguish between issues related to hearing loss and those of normal childhood development.  As such, parental empowerment is a long-term investment that pays dividends in creating strong, independent and capable young people who will not have to rely on public welfare.