Are there contexts and behaviors of deaf/hard of hearing infants and toddlers that we can identify that would help parents determine the communication option (ie; oral- oral/signed English/ ASL) to use with their child and family? (6/24)
There are familial contexts and child behaviors that can make one option more successful than another. Identifying them,
however, is more difficult as every child is an individual and every family is an entity unto itself. With such diversity, there can be no
checklist or scientific formula that can predict the most successful option for a particular child and family. In addition, Moeller and
Condon (1994) explain that this type of decision can only be made through a discovery process. Parents need to observe
successes with their child and then decide which approach makes them feel the most comfortable.
At first, I thought that the information that I gathered lead me to somewhat of a "dead end". Then, as I learned more about
working with families, I realized that as professionals we have a lot to bring to the table. We bring our observational skills, our
knowledge of child development, our awareness of the d/Deaf world, and critical thinking skills.
What can we do?
- Recommend the book Choices in Deafness.
- It presents information about each option objectively.
- There are parent/ child success stories after the presentation of each option.
- Introduce parents to d/Deaf adults and teens
- The parents of the newly identified deaf child most likely have limited knowledge of deafness. Therefore, when we present information as objectively as possible to hearing parents, we are in fact being biased.
Ben Bahan explains, parents will look at all of the information that is being presented and they will find the one [the lifestyle] that is the closest to themselves. "By being neutral you are allowing the gravity of the situation to take up weight and it will most definitely roll into the place that is far from the Deaf World". (B. Bahan, personal communication, September 10, 1997). If we truly want to be objective, then we need to introduce parents to people from all options.
- The parents need to see d/Deaf adults that are successful and happy (T. Balint, personal communication, October16, 1997).
- d/Deaf adults "provide many more options and insights than say, a medical doctor. A doctor will usually just give a pathological approach on how to deal with deafness. A deaf person will give a holistic approach.... much more complete" (M. Droslburgh, personal communication, August 3, 1997).
- For additional information: gmtanza.htm
- Introduce parents of deaf/hh children to other parents of deaf/hh children.
- These parents are now being introduced into a part of our world that is new to them.
- They should have a support system available to them. (T. Balint, personal communication, October 16, 1997).
- Be available to listen to parents.
- You can learn a lot about a family's strengths/ needs which will help you in assisting them make decisions later.
- "Listening to parents fosters the independence and confidence they need to make choices" (Gatty, 1994).
- Some parents may need emotional support as well as answers to any questions that they might have (T. Balint, personal communication, October 16, 1997).
- Listening to parents will help you be aware of all the family's needs (T. Balint, personal communication, October 16, 1997).
- Let parents choose the option for their child (T. Clark, personal communication, July 16. 1997, C. Tolleson, personal communication, August 5, 1997).
- When parents make decisions based on a professional's choice they end up searching the options at a later time (T. Clark, personal communication, July16, 1997).
- A child needs to see the parents in control and competent (C. Tolleson, personal communication, August 5, 1997). This can only occur when the parents have chosen the option with which they are the most comfortable.
- Let parents decide what they need for themselves and their child. Giving them this control allows them to be part of the Early Intervention team and helps them feel competent. (Thompson, 1994).
- Be good observers of behaviors (T. Clark, personal communication, July 16, 1997, M. Hartblay, July 9, 1997).
- Your objective evaluation helps the families explore (M. Hartblay, July 9, 1997).
- Evaluating over time allows you to consider all the factors involved in a child's development (T. Clark, personal communication, July 16, 1997, M. Hartblay, July 9, 1997).
- Maintain Professional Honesty (Gatty, 1994).
- "If they [parents] want a program that is not appropriate for their child, and you feel strongly about it, let them know. You are doing everyone a disservice if you don't" (C. deHahn, personal communication, August 5, 1997).
- "Professionals have an ethical responsibility to acknowledge strengths and limitations and then to interact with parents based on that self knowledge (Gatty, 1994).
- Offer information to parents (T. Balint, personal communication, October 16, 1997).
- Parents are entering something that is totally new to them. They need as much information as possible. The more information they have, the closer they can feel to their child.
- Keep the communication open between yourself and the parent (T. Balint, personal communication, October 16, 1997).
- Parents need to feel comfortable to ask questions and voice concerns.
- Parents want explanations to the objectives that you have for their child. This helps them carry out the activites on their own and also helps them answer questions that extended family might have. (For activities: 970922e.htm)