William Vicars, PhD
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
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
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
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.
parenting topics >
Monday, April 6, 2009
By Eva Bestolarides
Deafness is not a topic that is often talked about
among the hearing; in fact it's 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 they're deaf. The most common tests are
the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) and the Evoked Otoacoustic
Many parents may look at this as something negative
and may feel badly for their child, yet adults in the Deaf community
don't 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).
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 Children's Hospital Of
Philadelphia. April 4th, 2009.
Drolsbaugh, Mark. (2006). Deaf Culture Online. Parents of Deaf
Children. (no sponsor) April 4th, 2009.