There are recurring themes and issues relating to supporting a deaf child which families often find helpful to reflect on – whether the diagnosis is recent or not. So, no matter whether you have completed the Baby and/or Toddler programme or you are coming to us for the first time, take a moment to stop and think about what all this means for you and your family.
Sharing our experiences can help
For those families who have worked through our Baby and/or Toddler programme you will be familiar with how we work and keen to move forward. However before proceeding you may find it helpful to reflect on some important issues which remain pertinent throughout the whole of the Let’s Listen and Talk Programme – no matter what the age of your child and no matter how long it is since your child’s original diagnosis. Sometimes it is important to remind ourselves of why we need to do certain things and why we adopt particular approaches to give our children the best possible opportunities to develop and grow.
For those of you who are new to the Let’s Listen and Talk Programme, take a look through some of the issues and guidance papers highlighted below. Take comfort from the fact that many families before you, and many that will follow, face similar issues and by sharing our experiences we can help each other to support our children.
Taking time for yourself
Sometimes it is good to remember that there are others who understand what it is like to support a deaf child, and who know from first-hand experience the impact this can have on families.
The time of your child’s diagnosis can be bewildering and confusing and can raise many questions in your mind. It is natural to spend time researching what deafness means and getting to grips with the terminology or with possible communication approaches and this has great value. However, it is equally as important to spend time reflecting on your feelings and how others around you are feeling and coping. Giving yourself time to do this is just as important as understanding what your child’s audiogram means, or how you change the batteries in your child’s hearing aid, or how you test your child’s cochlear implants.
You may feel that you have come to terms with your child’s loss and maybe taking part in the earlier Let’s Listen and Talk Programme has already helped support you a little. Our Elizabeth Foundation families tell us that as their children get older new challenges appear, forcing them outside their ‘comfort zone’ once again and asking them to reflect again on what their child’s deafness means to them.
This is absolutely normal. You are on a learning curve that will continue through until your child is taking full responsibility for themselves and even then you may continue to worry! We want you to feel supported and listened to as you and your family work through the challenges and for you to realise that you are able to meet them as they appear. Each time you overcome a hurdle you become a little bit stronger and more able to handle the next challenge that comes along!
You are part of a wider community
We are particularly keen to reassure you that you are not in isolation, there are other families who are keen to share their experiences and lend their support. The journey ahead can seem daunting and remaining positive is not always easy, but remembering that there is understanding and support out there can go a long way to help. Take a moment to look at these video clips from other parents. If you have seen them before, look again and remind yourself of the support that is out there for you.
- Poem: To all parents of newly diagnosed deaf children – text of a poem written by parents for parents. Also available as a video.
- Guidance paper: Your baby has a diagnosis of deafness … now what?
In addition to our specialist staff, the benefit of participating in our Let’s Listen and Talk Programme is that it makes a wider community of fellow parents, support groups, charities and professionals available to you. The Elizabeth Foundation has a comprehensive support network dedicated to the needs of families supporting deaf children. Every week, over 60 families attend the Foundation’s nursery setting in Portsmouth and their experiences and feedback helps us shape the support we provide to you and your family through the Let’s Listen and Talk Programme. We work with a wide range of professionals from different areas with specific experience in deafness.
Keeping in touch
You can keep in touch with us using our special ‘members only’ contact form, or by phone, email or Skype. And we can direct you to other people and groups in your local area who can help.
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