Being a parent is not always easy. Being a parent of a baby or young child who is deaf or hard-of-hearing brings new and different experiences. There may be times when you feel a range of powerful emotions – from grief to pride and back again. You are not alone.
For some parents, it may not come as a surprise to learn that their child has hearing loss/deafness, but for many it is unexpected. Adapting to the new reality of having a child who is deaf or hard-of-hearing can look different for each individual and family. Many parents find it helpful to talk with other parents who also have children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. You can CONTACT US at any time, and our Family Support parents will help you connect to other parents. If your child has not yet been identified as deaf or hard-of-hearing, but is still going through the screening process, please find more information here.
Families with children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing face many significant decisions, from where to receive Early Intervention services to what communication method to choose, to how to support child in community settings, such as daycare and preschool. Some important things to consider when you are making those decisions:
- Are you making a decision that works best for your child and family’s situation?
- Are you making the best decision you can at this time by investigating all the information available?
- Are you basing your decision on evidence and facts from current research and findings?
- Are you consulting with a variety of sources. As well as professionals, (such as the BC Early Hearing Program, Early Intervention agencies, audiologists and ENT doctors), many families find it helpful to meet with other parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children, as well as adults who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
The process of making all of these decisions can feel daunting. Remember that your initial decisions may change over time as you learn more about different options for your child and as you grow together. Raising a child who is deaf or hard-of-hearing is a journey, and as with any journey, it will have twists and turns along the way.
The search for information to help you make decisions and answer questions usually involves:
- Knowing where you are now (supported by the results of assessments and observations).
- Knowing where you want to go (your goals for your child) and how you are going to try to get there (the Individual Family Service Planning, or IFSP process).
- Regularly evaluating where you are along the way and measuring development of abilities that show what is working (reassessment).
- Investigating and making adjustments necessary to reach your goals or to set new goals (IFSP review).
What Research Does and Does Not Tell Us
Research tells us that no single communication mode is best for all deaf and hard-of-hearing children; every child is unique. What is clear is that starting intervention early, (often by 6 months of age), predicts better language skills, regardless of communication mode.