Discovering Deafness I Building A Community to Support Your Deaf Child

Published on: 4th July 2024

Finding out that your child has hearing loss can open up a whole world of questions for many parents and care givers.  

 You now have the chance to become part of a vibrant community of families and services for deaf and hard of hearing children. This community shares common experiences and offer incredible support to one another.  

You and your child can now join the multitude of groups for parents, mentors, play time, social skill development, schooling, and other activities. Building your community will not only provide support and confidence but will also enrich your child’s social and linguistic experiences. 

It takes a village to raise a child 

A key aspect of growing this support network lies within the phrase,  

‘It takes a village to raise a child.’  

Growing and strengthening your child’s village ensures: 

  • Role Models: Your child has important role models to look up to for every stage of their life. 
  • Support Network: You have a support network to guide you through this journey.  

For young people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, their differences can be wonderful places of self-discovery, strength, and leadership. 

It is incredibly important to ensure that all deaf children are connected to and supported by the community.  

In education, a Deaf child’s village comprises of Deaf language models, Deaf teachers, signing parents and family members, and a range of people fluent in Auslan. 

It’s all about pathways 

The parents or care givers of children that are pre-lingually deaf or hard of hearing (that is, born with hearing loss or acquiring hearing loss before learning to speak) should consider the type and timing of intervention best able to support their child’s language acquisition. 

It is well established that early acquisition of language is critical to children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. However, the choice of whether, and when, to begin Auslan education with their child is often made harder by intervention choices being presented as either/or decisions. 

Our approach in the Therapy and Family Services team is to respect and value all communication options and all languages, where children who have Auslan as their first and primary language are just as welcome in our services and programs as children who predominantly use spoken language.  

Genevieve Roberts, Deaf Connect Therapy and Family Services Coordinator, emphasised the importance of respecting and adjusting communication methods to suit the individual needs and preferences of your child, which can evolve over time.  

 “It is not a case of ‘either, or’ – Sign vs Speech, Oral vs Manual…It is about giving babies, children, and young people maximum choice and communication options to equip them to meet all their communication needs over the course of a lifetime. There are many ways to be deaf…and all of them are ok.” 

 Support Stories: Dee’s Journey 

Dee, the mother of a child with hearing loss, highlights the positive impact of being surrounded by a supportive and caring community after her daughter’s diagnosis. 

As we started getting comfortable over the weeks with the basic things we needed to do, the people who supported us and the service providers available started to broaden our world. Learning about the Deaf community including their beliefs and recommendations helped us to realise that there are different choices which you have for your child, and you need to know about them. 

We had the speech therapist, an Australian Sign Language teacher, a Teacher of the Deaf, and others from the community. It was just so nice to have different people in our life who are in the same boat, because we all had kids with hearing loss. It was really important that the people in our daughter’s life were role models that we liked, respected and trusted to be a good influence 

What to know more about our Allied Health Services and Family Support Programs?  

Click here to learn more or get in touch with our team by emailing [email protected].     

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