A parent's perspective : experiences during the diagnosis of a hearing loss
Hilborn, Donna J.
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Understanding the impact of diagnosis to a parent with a deaf child can be understood best through the eyes of a parent. Hearing what their experiences have been and truly understanding the impact of them can be grasped better when retold by the parents themselves. For hearing parents, the birth of a deaf child produces a crisis. Parents are forced to adapt to the crisis by changing their parenting styles, behaviors, and communication to accommodate the deafness. The family structure will be altered as individual members learn to adapt to the change in the family system. The way in which families react to their child’s deafness varies. There are many factors that will influence a family’s ability to adapt. One of the factors is the reactions of the parents to the diagnosis and the level of interaction they have with the professionals. The process of grieving is another factor that needs to be addressed during this period. In addition to these are understanding how the child will affect the family structure and where the family finds its support. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the parents’ perspectives regarding diagnostic experiences. Interviews were conducted with the parents of five deaf and hard of hearing children to facilitate a better understanding by observing both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Portions of the transcripts are included to demonstrate the parents’ verbatim responses and feelings to the diagnosis. Implications drawn from the interviews offer suggestions for ways to enhance the parent-professional relationship, to understand the process of grieving as experienced by a parent with a deaf child, to understand the impact it has on the family, and to make available support services that will be of benefit to families.