Out of every 1,000 infants born in the USA, 2- 3 of them are born either deaf or hard of hearing. As more than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, parents of newly-diagnosed deaf children have a feeling of being inadequate to the task of raising a deaf child.
The Coping Process
The first thing that the family needs to know is that they are not alone in what they are going through as it is something many families do go through. Seek advice from other parents and families who have undergone the process of raising a deaf child. Inquire about audiologists, good schools for the deaf and other deaf adults in your community. The more you’re aware, the more confident you will feel about your capability of raising them.
The need to accept the situation and plan your steps is vital. You will be amazed by your child’s abilities and start looking at what your child can be, rather than their limiting factors.
It is important that siblings understand their brother’s or sister’s condition. Growing up, children may feel embarrassed around other children and even feel neglected as the parents put more effort into the deaf child’s upbringing. It is of great importance that the siblings are spoken to and realize why their deaf sibling needs the extra care.
By doing so, the parents would infuse the sense of responsibility among the children also. Siblings are the first friends we make; hence nothing would benefit the growing child’s morale and self confidence more than having a brother or sister looking out for them.
Hardships and Social Barriers
Often the responsibility of involving the family members falls on one parent, usually the mother, who must give the family members time to adjust to the situation instead of forcing them to participate.
Sometimes you may have to deal with the negative reactions of relatives or strangers. It is normal for parents to feel angry and hurt when this happens.
The parents and the family members can:
Confront ignorant people by discussing deafness and explaining the ways to communicate with the child.
Explain that pity is needless and only hurts the child’s confidence and feelings.
Choose whether the people need to be answered to. If it is too frustrating or in public, just ignore it.
The greatest gift you can give your child is educating them in languages (American Sign Language), especially those designated for the deaf. Communication is the key to livelihood, and by helping your child communicate better, you will make them independent enough to survive this world.