You may have just learned that your baby has a diagnosis of deafness. Your baby, so very young and precious, may be your first child, and their deafness very possibly came as a great shock.
Thinking about your child’s future
We hope you have been told how a combination of good technology and effective educational support can enable your child to reach their own individual potential. In this Baby programme we will help you learn about this, but if you have any questions at this point you’d like us to answer, please contact us and we’ll be happy to chat.
Whilst you may find yourself questioning many of your expectations for your baby, finding out about their deafness early on gives you time to seek information, learn how to help your child and – later – to celebrate and nurture your baby’s achievements.
Becoming a parent
As a parent, you are central to your child’s development. However, we appreciate that right now it may seem difficult – almost impossible – to think of your baby’s additional communication and language needs and your role in helping them.
All new babies demand so much time and energy in the early months. If this is your first child, remember that becoming a parent for the first time is a steep learning curve without these additional challenges. If you are already an experienced parent you also have your other children’s needs to consider at the same time.
Recognising your emotions
No doubt, like many parents who learn that their child is deaf, you are also trying to manage periods of shock, disbelief, guilt and even anger. There may be times of sorrow and grieving as you question the loss of one cherished idea after another.
Or, if your baby was born very prematurely, or they have additional needs, or have been poorly, you might almost feel relief – rather than shock or grief. Compared with the other potential challenges you and your little one have faced, you may feel that your child’s deafness is something that you can “manage”.
This mix of emotions and tears may take you by surprise – but other parents tell us that it is not unusual. And please remember that whilst you might find it useful to get support from others, these are your emotions and your feelings. Your experiences will be unique to you and your family, although others may be going through similar ups and downs.
Understanding your feelings of loss
Thinking in terms of ‘loss of cherished ideas’ may help you to identify and work through your feelings and challenges.
What is it that you think either you or your child has lost? Does this really need to be lost? It can be anything from, “Will my child ever hear my voice?” to “Will they be safe riding a bike?”
Recognising a new ‘loss’ can hit you at unexpected moments, just when you think you are coping and on top of things. This is very typical and most parents will experience this at some point as their child grows up. Allow yourself the time and space you need to experience and deal with these emotions
Learning how to help your child
Rest assured that you will move on to more positive feelings as you help your son or daughter. Your feelings of self-doubt and lack of confidence will be replaced to a great extent by a need to learn all you can. You will find satisfaction in every gain your child makes.
Remember: your goal is to help your baby grow and develop as other children do. You will learn how to guide your baby through the process of developing the ability to communicate.
Getting to grips with terminology
Like many parents of newly-diagnosed children, you will probably feel a little bit overwhelmed by all of the appointments and the new terminology and jargon professionals will be using when talking about your child’s diagnosis.
That’s why we have put together a short course on ‘Getting to grips with technology and terminology’ that is free to all Let’s Listen and Talk members. This course will help you learn about the different parts of the ear, the different types and causes of deafness, the different types of hearing test, and how to maintain your child’s hearing technology.
You can dip in and out of the different lessons in the course as and when you need to. Click here to check out the ‘Getting to grips with technology and terminology’ course.