So you've just found out your child is Deaf, you have so many questions that sometimes is hard to know where to even start looking for answers. We hope that we can help answer some of the most frequent questions that we have all asked at sometimes. We are all walking this Journey together .
I'm worried that my child doesn't hear well. What should I do? Parents/Family are usually the first to notice that their baby does not appear to be responding to sound. Nowadays all newborn have their hearing tested at birth, but if for some reason you have doubts about the results of these tests at a later stage then trust your instincts and get your baby tested right away!
My Child is the first Deaf person that I’ve met will they live a normal life? YES! If by normal you mean "will my child run and play, go to school, learn to read, have friends, drive a car, have a job or career, get married?" then answer is almost certainly "yes." If it means, "will my child be exactly the same as a hearing child?" the answer is "no." There are differences between children with normal hearing and children who are deaf or hard or hearing. The primary difference is in the way they will learn to communicate.
How can I communicate with my child? There are lots of different methods of communication available to help your child learn to communicate. However, one unifying factor is that they all involve you, the parents. No matter which method of communication you choose, you are the main educator for your child and may need to learn some new skills. It will take time, energy and patience for you to learn them but with the right early intervention could prove to be the most rewarding thing you do! Deaf children who learn to communicate at an early age and who are included in family interactions have a good chance for success, both academically and personally. Learn all you can about all methods. This will help you decide which one is best for your family! No one method is right for every child. To Find out more about communication options see our page on Communication.
I don’t know where to start - is this normal? 90% of Deaf babies are born to hearing families with no history of deafness – and it is a shock to them all. A diagnosis of hearing loss brings emotions of fear, loss, panic and huge sadness and parents can sometime receive conflicting information from different professionals when a baby’s hearing loss is first diagnosed. Once a reliable diagnosis is made, parents start learning about the many communication approaches available, about hearing aid options or cochlear implants, and about services and educational programmes available. It is a journey and the start of any new journey can be daunting, but don’t be put off – the sooner you tackle this journey the better it will be for you and your child. It will feel frightening at times! You will cry. but don't worry YOU ARE NOT ALONE, and it is normal. Networking with other families who have walked the journey or still walking this journey is a great way to get some comfort.
When can a child be fitted with hearing aids? Most children with a sensorineural hearing loss are fitted with hearing aids right away. Only through ongoing and consistent testing can your child’s audiologist help you find the best aids and the correct setting for your child’s loss. Hearing aids do not cure a hearing loss. In most cases, children with hearing losses can learn to detect and discriminate the sounds of spoken language through hearing aids. This will help your child learn to communicate through speech and be aware of the sounds around him. If hearing aids are not up to the task then a cochlear implant may be offered to you as an option.
What will happen when my child starts school? Decisions regarding your child’s educational placement, now and in the future, will depend upon many factors. Deaf children should be placed in school programmes depending upon the needs of the individual child. You, the parents, will play an active role in making decisions regarding your child’s school programming and educational placement and the professionals working with you will give you support to do this. Most Deaf Children in New Zealand are in mainstream schools. They will often require special support services so that they can benefit from their regular classroom settings such as a Resource Teacher of the Deaf, Teacher Aide or some other professional. A few Deaf children will go to a special Deaf school. In New Zealand there are 2 Kelston Deaf Education Centre in Auckland and van Asch Deaf Education Centre in Christchurch. They have what is know as Satellite classes, which is basically a Deaf class in a Mainstream school. They are taught separately from the rest of the school but will integrate with the mainstream in areas that benefit the child. Many deaf and hard of hearing children spend some of their day in classes with other deaf children, and some of their day with their hearing peers.