Even though you may have suspected, finding out that your child is Deaf or Hard of Hearing (D/HoH) can come as unexpected and/or unsettling news. Most parents of children who are D/HoH have no previous experience with hearing loss. What will it mean for you and your family?
In the days and weeks following the diagnosis, you may feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster. Your feelings may vary quickly and widely. As you carry out your daily routines – finishing a chore or driving to the grocery store – you may realize that your mind was somewhere else. You may also find within yourself unexpected sources of strength to do what has to be done.
You will be making many decisions in the days ahead. Give yourself the time you need to make decisions that feel right for your family. Keep in mind there are very few decisions you will make that you cannot change. And remember, research clearly shows that communication choices should not be solely based on the degree of hearing loss. The options and decisions facing any family are theirs alone to make, with information and support from professionals. There is no one “right” way to empower a child to succeed. His needs, as well as the needs of the family, will change with time. It is very important to see this all as a work in progress. Don’t be afraid to remain open to new ideas, and even change your approach if necessary.
-Colorado Resource Guide, Colorado Hands & Voices, 2011
Some important things to consider about making decisions include:
- Are you making the best decision you can at this time by investigating all the information available?
- Are you making a decision that works for your child and family’s situation?
- Are you basing your decision on evidence and facts?
- Are you consulting with a variety of sources (for example, early interventionists, specialists, other parents, adults who are D/HoH, current research, community service providers, specialized program service providers, etc.)?
- Is this information complete, and as unbiased as possible? “Complete” means learning about all available options and trusting your family’s ability to make good decisions that work for your child. “Unbiased” means the information your family receives from others is not intended to convince you to choose one option over another, but rather to inform you of all the options and each option’s pros and cons.
- Answers to these questions vary from child to child and family to family.
Discovering answers to the above questions usually involves:
- Knowing where you are now (supported by results of various assessments of hearing and communication, as well as your observations).
- Knowing where you want to go (your goals for your child) and how you are going to try to get there.
- Regularly evaluating where you are along the way and measuring the
development of abilities that show what is working (reassessment).
- Making adjustments necessary to reach your goals.
There is no one universal method of intervention that works well with all infants and children who are D/HoH. Research shows that the most important factor in success is your active participation. The benefits of parent involvement include higher reading scores, higher grades on homework, improved attitudes towards school, and improved relationships between school and home. The Alberta Hands & Voices mantra is “whatever choice is right for your child makes it the right choice.” Educate yourself about your options, and stay involved in the journey. We are here to help you along the way.
-BC Family Hearing Resource Society
-The Ready Guide: Getting Started, Indiana EDHI Program