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So, your baby is going to be deaf...:

William Vicars, PhD
1/16/2004

A discussion regarding the impact, challenges, and decisions hearing families face with their deaf child.

Most deaf children are born into "Hearing" families. The term "Hearing," in this case, means a family that has no real knowledge of Deaf culture, American Sign Language, or the Deaf experience.

The first decision Hearing families must face is whether or not to keep the child. I know you don't see that covered much in the literature, but this is my article and I'm choosing to mention it. My wife and I knew that our daughter had Apert Syndrome many months before she was born. Fully half of society would not have blamed us, indeed would have supported us, if we decided to terminate the pregnancy. Of course, there was no way we would have went that route, but many others would--and have.

Going on the basis that the parents have indeed given birth to a deaf child. They next decide whether to feel guilty about it or not. 

My mother still feels guilty about me. She questions to this day whether my being hard- of- hearing is her fault. She wonders if she hadn't smoked during her pregnancy--would I have been carried to full term?

Next parents decide whether to become educated regarding what it means to be deaf. Many parents choose to bury their heads and distract themselves while their child grows up. Others get books, go to ASL classes, and join or form networks consisting of other parents of deaf children. An informed parent will be more likely to contact and seek support from the local school district. Informed parents may choose to participate in a "parent-infant-program" that provides visits from a parent educator or sometimes a Deaf mentor. This parent educator or deaf mentor is likely to be the first professional educator in the deaf child's life.

Parents can decide to push for a certain type of educational programming for their child. In general a parent will end up focusing on one of two models of deafness. Unfortunately, many parents buy into the pathological/medical model instead of embracing the cultural approach to being deaf. In either case, parents can have a huge impact on their child's education by choosing to get involved with the formal ARD/IEP process. Their child has certain legal rights to a free, appropriate, public education. These rights are protected and can best be secured by the appropriate application of the individualized education planning process. To that end, educated parents should attend their child's IEP meetings and stand up for their child.
Parents would be well advised to get to know their child's teachers. By working together as a team they can provide much greater support and a much better educational environment than by working separately.

It is important for parents to have a positive expectation level for their child. Children go to great lengths to live up (or down) to our expectations of them. So let's make sure to expect success.

More parenting topics >


Monday, April 6, 2009
Deaf Children
By Eva Bestolarides

Deaf Children

Deafness is not a topic that is often talked about among the hearing; in fact itís not even a topic thought about by the hearing. What if a hearing family was suddenly forced to think about being deaf? Well this is a very real and possible situation. Deaf children are born into hearing families all the time.  Everyday thirty-three babies are born with sensorineural hearing loss (Raising Deaf Kids). Hospitals use different ways to screen a newborn to see if theyíre deaf. The most common tests are the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) and the Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions (EOAE).

Many parents may look at this as something negative and may feel badly for their child, yet adults in the Deaf community donít see themselves as handicapped so why should the hearing community view them any different?  Sure, if two hearing parents bring a deaf child into the world then obviously their lives will change  in many ways including some positive ways. There are many places for these parents to reach out to for help, all it takes is effort.

The American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC) is one of many resources to help these parents plan a future to help them adapt and work with their deaf child. ASDC is a parent-helping-parent network founded in 1967. The ASDC has many goals for the children; one is to provide the children with what they need to become self-supporting and fulfilled adults. They can provide parents with a list of resources, contacts and even news related topics (ASDC site)

It is important to expose every deaf child to the community they will grow up to be a part of; even if both parents are hearing. It can be an overwhelming situation wondering if you are going to have to learn a whole new language just to communicate with you own child. With a little bit of research one would find that there are many different options out there. American Sign Language (ASL) can be an intimidating task for some parents to take on; ASL may not suit everyone, which is why there are other options. There is also Signed Exact English (SEE) and Pidgin signed English (PSE) just to name a couple. Each option should be researched and taken into account. Every parent may make the choice that is best for their family (Deaf Culture Online).

SOURCES:

Cyberwoven.(1967). ASDC: American Society for Deaf Children. 2006 American Society for Deaf Children. April 4th, 2009.

Raising Deaf Kids: A World of Information About Children With Hearing Loss. Raising Deaf Kids. The Childrenís Hospital Of Philadelphia. April 4th, 2009.

Drolsbaugh, Mark. (2006). Deaf Culture Online. Parents of Deaf Children. (no sponsor) April 4th, 2009.



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