Has your child just been diagnosed with deafness?

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You may have a million and one questions, thoughts and worries swirling around in your head… Perhaps your child is the first person with deafness in the family? Maybe the only deaf person you know?

Firstly, don’t panic!

Take a deep breath. This blog will hopefully answer some of those questions to put your mind at rest… and if it’s not mentioned here, there are other resources and organisations who can provide support and guidance to help you and your child.

Secondly, you are not alone.

You may feel isolated in this hearing world with a deaf child, but you both aren’t alone! There are 11 million people with different levels of hearing loss in the U.K. and of that, many family members who know a deaf person. As a parent of a Deaf child, there are many others who have been through what you are going through now.

Communication

The first thing that comes to mind is ‘how can I communicate with my Deaf child?’

There are so many communication methods, from speech (using speech therapy), lip-reading to sign language, cued speech and so on. It’s important to consider or try all options to find out what’s best for your Deaf child. 

It may be worth enquiring for a Teacher of the Deaf to come and visit. They have all the knowledge and resources to best advice and prepare you.

Education

Generally it’s best to take each day as it comes, but your child’s future and education may be at the back of your mind. To ease this, I like to share my motto…

‘Deaf people can achieve anything they dream of, given the right support.’

When the time comes, you’ll know by then how your child’s communication is progressing and whether or not they will benefit from attending a mainstream school or a Deaf school/school with a Deaf unit. 

At either school, it’s important to ask for the support that your child needs to help them with their education, whether 1-1 support, note taker, sign language interpreter etc. Support is vital for success! Don’t let the school tell you what’s best for the child, as you and the Teacher of the Deaf will have better understanding of what will help them achieve.

The Future

Can my child go to University?

Can my child get a job?

Can my child start a family?

Can my child live independently?

The answer to them all… is YES!

Don’t let your child’s deafness stand in the way of achieving their dreams. There may be barriers that you come across but there’s always a way around that.

There are so many inspiring Deaf individuals to look up to, from actors to musicians, medical professionals to lawyers, from bloggers to vloggers and so on. Each of them who has been through the system, and have experienced life with deafness and have proved that Deaf people can do anything.

Professionals and Organisations

There are many fantastic organisations that provide support for different areas relating to deafness and hearing loss. They may also have contacts with various professionals who can provide advice, like health visitors, GPs, Audiologists, ENT Consultants, Speech Therapists and so forth. Maybe have a browse online to see what you feel might be best for you and your child.

Online communities

There are many valuable resources available online, from articles to blogs, videos to Facebook groups for deafness. There is also #HearingLossHour on Twitter, on the first Wednesday every month from 1-2pm (GMT) to talk about different topics relating to hearing loss.

Technology

There are many technologies out there. Fantastic hearing technologies like hearing aids or cochlear implants to help your deaf child hear. Also assistive technologies like Radio aids, wireless streamers which connect to hearing devices, vibrating alarm clocks and much more.

Don’t give up hope, keep strong for your child and you never know one day they might surprise you!

If you have any other tips, please comment below!

2 COMMENTS

  1. When I was first diagnosed as deaf as a 3 yr old after many attempts by my parents to have this verified, they were told I was likely to end up working in a bakery or something like that. Since then I have gone onto achieving a degree and am qualified to teach normal hearing children despite my profound hearing loss. I’m not the only one and have many friends and know many more from my old school who have gone on to achieve vastly higher qualifications with doctorates etc…. Deaf children are totally normal people with an irritation of being deaf. It doesn’t mean they are brain dead or mentally retarded at all! They are only limited by other people’s perceptions and expectations. Those with deaf children must encourage their children to aim high. Don’t let them think that because they are deaf that they can’t do something. There are usually ways around a difficulty. For example I know of nurses who are deaf and manage beautifully. True that they may not necessarily be able to help in theatre as well due to face masks so can’t hear requests for specific instruments but they can do a whole lot of other things in nursing. Be brave and think big and encourage your child to just aim high! Treat them the same as their hearing siblings. Your child will make enormous progress so do believe in them wholly! Good luck!

  2. Absolutely, aim high, enjoy your children, face the challenges head-on and reach for the stars, every parent wants the best outcomes for their baby. Deafness presents as a challenge but not a barrier to success.
    Make sure that every parent of a deaf child knows that
    • Deaf children are profoundly visual.
    All hearing children and adults use non-verbal-communication, surely then it is common sense to assume that the deaf baby/child is more likely to use the sense that works in order to support the sense that is struggling.
    British Sign Language is a wonderful visual and expressive language and creates strong links between deaf people but it is a different language from that used by the child’s family, it costs a fortune to learn, takes time and is not related to written language. For a parent it is like learning a new language. I’ve been speaking and learning French for years, I have lots of vocabulary, nouns and verbs but grammatically I am hopeless and unless I’ve had a few glasses of wine I struggle to string complex sentences together.
    It is not enough for the hearing parent to sign, “Pyjamas, bed, story, sleep”, it is useful and better than nothing, but really what a parent would like to say is “Go upstairs and put on your pyjamas and when you are in bed I will come and read you a story. You need to go to sleep early this evening, tomorrow we are going to see Granny” (and everyone needs an early night before going to see Granny!!)
    • You can talk at the deaf baby but they Can Not lip read because they don’t have the language sounds to make sense of the lip shapes. Your baby will look at you and engage and attach and copy but it’s concentration will be less as they are not able to fully engage.
    • You can use Cued Speech.
    Cued Speech is a phenomenal concept, brilliantly created by Dr.Orin Cornet. It is a visual version of English and other spoken languages which uses just eight handshapes in four positions near the mouth to completely clarify all the lip-patterns of speech.
    The eight hand shapes in four positions turn the sounds of your speech into visible units, which like sounds, are combined into words and sentences and as a result a full language. It prepares the child for literacy.
    Training in cued speech is free with the online foundation level learning.
    Cued speech can be learnt with sign language, just as bi-lingual babies can learn two languages.
    Cued speech can be learnt prior to cochlear implant or with hearing or radio aids in order to clarify and make more sense of sound.
    Once a deaf baby or child receives cued speech from the parent it will improve it’s lip reading skills from 35% to 96% and will then be able to communicate with family members and hearing peers through lip reading, it is rarely used as an expressive language for deaf children in the UK.
    So if it’s so fabulous, why aren’t more people using cued speech. Well I don’t know; history, politics, personalities…whatever, l want to put that away in a locked box and look to the future. Let’s give every deaf baby or child an equal opportunity in life, let’s make sure that we give a variety of choice to meet the needs of the individual child because all children are different and lets give deaf children the simple human right to be able to use language.

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