Many hearing parents find it very difficult to accept the fact that their child is deaf. In fact, congenital deafness can sometimes take up to nine years of childhood to be fully silent. These are definitely very trying moments for parents. Parents go through numerous emotions – fear, despair, shock and even denial – whatever your reaction is, be assured it is normal – nothing is pinned down as a wrong or a right reaction. When parents are signers themselves, it is not much of an issue because they are survivors who can teach the skills and generally move on without a hitch. However, parents who are able to hear normally need some time to adjust with the fact, struggling to come to terms with reality.
Every hearing parent of a deaf child must take comfort in the fact that sign language has a rich heritage. In fact, grown up signers form a close-knit community and hold a strong perception of being special. Indeed, sign language is a universal medium of communication without using words! Although signing varies widely from one country to another, yet a signer from one country can easily pick up the common signs from a signer of another country.
It is a proud and silent society of super-achievers. In fact, signers strongly detest the tag of ‘disability’ because they can communicate as good as the hearing people. Your first responsibility as a hearing parent is to learn sign language yourself. It is an amazing medium of interaction, and you soon get to love it. Besides signing, hard of hearing people are also experts at lip-reading. You need to help your child develop both these skills.
Do not try to force-feed sound
Parents must not make the mistake of shouting at the top of their lungs in desperation! Such actions only cause stress and get your deaf child to retract in a shell. It causes severe psychological distress in the kids. Instead, you need to be patient and communicate with signing. It is not that hard, and in fact very special! Do not think your child is ‘disabled’. Such a mindset seriously hampers your attitude for the child.
You need to help the deaf child acclimatize with the hearing world. Your child has to depend on intuitions and instincts all through life. Of course, there are hearing aids. However, they work best for the hard of hearing. Children who are full deaf cannot find the hearing aids that helpful. You need to find special schools where they teach the Indian version of sign language.
Parents need to connect with other parents in similar situations. Sharing the sadness lessens your personal burden. Parents must not blame themselves or each other for the deafness of their child. All these emotional distresses affect your relationship with the child. There is nothing worse than neglect for a specially-challenged child.
Do not lose hope
Do not feel hopeless that your child cannot play like other children. Your little one can find great friends at a special school for the deaf. Do not pamper the child too much either. Raise your kid just like a hearing child, but of course with due special attention. It is a good idea to have a pet. ‘Hearing dogs’ guide their handlers safely and carefully. Do not worry because your kid will do just fine.