"I have a deaf child and he will always be deaf, and although there is nothing I can do to changing the hearing impairment, there are things I CAN do to help my child grow into a responsible human being." (Parent in Luterman, 1979, pg 13)

Adaptation: Guiding Parents in Realizing What Both They and their Child CAN Do

Resources

    Adams, John W. (1997) You and your deaf child. Washington D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

    Ferris, Caren (1980). A hug just isnít enough. Washington D.C.: Gallaudet College Press.

    Luterman, David D. ED (1979). Counseling parents of hearing impaired children. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

    McCracken, Wendy and Sutherland, Hillary (1991). Deaf-ability-Not disability. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters LTD.

    Ogden, Paul W (1996). The silent garden. Washington D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

    Watkins, Susan Ed D and Clark, Thomas C PhD (1993) The SKI*HI model. Logan, Utah: SKI*HI Institute.

    Deafness/Hard of hearing (1999). [Online]. Available : http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Villa/6925/

Synthesis

Acquiring knowledge about deafness will reduce the intensity of emotions that parents feel (Ferris, 1980). As parents overcome the feelings of frustration, anger, and guilt, the underlying desire to "do something" remains. It is this aspiration that leads them to the stage of adaptation and constructive action (Ogden, 1996).

Adaptation occurs when the family has developed new ways of coping with the changes and challenges that raising a deaf/hard of hearing (d/hh) child can bring (Watkins and Clark, 1993). Acceptance of the childís condition does not mean that the parents like it, but that they are able to understand and accept the reality that their child is and always will be d/hh. Consequently, parents are able to take constructive actions that are beneficial and practical to the child. (Adams, 1997).

As parents become more involved in their childís life, they will begin to realize what their child CAN do (Ogden, 1996). The differences between their child and other children donít seem as big, and they view their child as a child, rather than a handicap (Ferris, 1980). Even if larger differences emerge, parents have grown to love their child regardless of what happens (Ferris, 1980). Many children who are d/hh are able to accomplish as much and more than a normal hearing child (Ferris, 1980). Parents often realize that their child is just like other children in every way, except theirs happens to have a hearing loss. Most importantly, parents need to believe that their child is capable of learning. Often the children are more able to change and adjust in life than their parents are. To a child that is born d/hh, deafness is accepted because he/she doesnít know to not accept it (McCracken, 1991).


Additionally, the experience of learning about the child and deafness can strengthen the parentís appreciation for what they have done and can do. Many parents look at deafness as something that has helped their family; "I feel that I have a purpose, that my values are much, much better since weíve had this child." (Hearing parent of a d/hh child, Ogden, 1996, pg 29). Deafness can create a challenge which can unite or break a family (Ogden, 1996). Positive reactions tend to occur in families that include their child in all activities and realize that the childís needs are different, but do not revolve their life around them (Ferris, 1980 and Adams, 1997). It is important that families meet the needs to all family members, not just those of the child who is d/hh (Ferris, 1980).
 

"Kevin may be deaf, but he is normal in every other way. He gets cuts and bruises like any kid. He can drive you crazy like any kid. He can love you like any kid." (Hearing parent of a d/hh child, Ferris, 1980, pg 23).

"What matters deafness of the ear, when the mind hears. The one true deafness, the incurable deafness, is that of the mind." -Victor Hugo to Ferdinand Berthier (Website "Deafness/Hard of Hearing").

Strategies

Insights

While there is no one indicator that the parents have reached this stage, the condition of the hearing aid condition is a good gauge. A professional can examine the appearance of the aid, frequency in which it is worn, and how parents expect the aid to help their child.

Reaching this stage is as much of a relief to the parents as it is to the professionals working with them. It is important to note, however, that the family will reencounter the other stages throughout transitional times of the childís life. This occurs because in the back of parentís minds, they want their child to be hearing. It is important for professionals to empower families as they take the responsibility of their child. I have learned that the less families need assistance from the parent advisor, the more successful they are in accepting the hearing loss.
 

Bibliography:

        Swarbick, Judy (1999). Parenting Special Needs: Acceptance. [Online] Available http://specialchildren.about.com/library/weekly/aa081198.htm?COB=home&terms=parenting+special+needs+acceptance&PM=113_300_T

        Deaf Children's Society of B.C. (1999). Is your child deaf or hard of hearing? [Online]. Available http://www.deafchildren.bc.ca/deafchil.htm

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