Raising a Child
with a Hearing Loss
raising a deaf or hard of hearing child any different from
raising a hearing child?
"For us, the biggest difference in raising a deaf
or hard of hearing child (ours is our 11th child!) is
that it requires much more love and patience on the part
of everyone involved. Parents, siblings, and relatives
have to get down on the level of this child and put themselves
in his shoes and not always expect quick results. The
little one needs a lot of encouragement and reassurance
with hugs, squeezes, and fun time together, or they can
tend to feel left out of our hearing world."
"Having a child who is deaf or
hard of hearing will take more on your part as a parent.
More time, more patience, and more work. It will be different
from a hearing child. Different isn't bad, it's just different!
Each child is unique and has a variety of needs. The demands
of extra time could just as easily come from a child with
a learning disability, or an extremely bright child. It
doesn't in any way change or diminsh all of the wonderful
experiences of being a parent. Some of them might be different,
but different is a good thing!"
"Yes, there is a difference. It
takes more patience and time to explain things and fill
in the missing pieces from the lack of incidental learning
"Raising a child with a hearing
loss is different from raising a hearing child. Parents
must become informed about the challenges hard of hearing
children face in education as well as socially in order
to encourage the child and intervene when it is necessary.
For the hard of hearing child's benefit, it is important
to raise him as much like a hearing child as possible
in order to facilitate future success in life."
"It is very different! Communication is constantly
an effort. Even if you know all the signs (if you are
using manual communication), you still have to make sure
that you have your child's visual attention, and that
they get your attention. You are always looking up from
what you are doing, always dropping things to get your
hands free! It requires a lot of explaining and extra
work to keep up with their hearing peers. Every day is
a constant challenge."
"Somewhat. You have to intercede
on their behalf more, because their 'disability' isn't
obvious. You have to be more deliberate in your communication."
"In some ways yes, because of some
of the needs that they may have and because you obviously
communicate in a different way. But for the most part,
I want my hearing child and my deaf child to learn the
same things, and behave in certain ways."
"At first there seemed to be a very big difference,
mostly because of communication issues. Once we had established
communication with our daughter and could explain things
more easily and could understand what she wanted or needed,
there were very few differences in how we interacted with
"Same love, same expectations,
same relationship. The only difference is in the language
and the need to have your child look at you, and your
need to have your hands free if you sign."
biggest difference I have found is that if your child
is deaf, everything has to be deliberately taught. Nothing
is picked up through osmosis. They do not automatically
pick things up from conversations around them, or from
the radio or television like our hearing children do.
Even though we have good communication in our family,
when my daughter was in high school I really started to
see how many little incidental things she had not picked
up on that we take for granted, because our hearing children
do it so naturally. I suddenly found myself feeling very
panicky, thinking about all I still had to teach her before
she graduated from high school. The things that I realized
she had missed out on were not so much the really big
important things, but the small things in everyday life
that we don't even think about. They were the things that
would not necessarily make a difference in her life in
the big scheme of things, but things that my hearing child
knew, just because he could hear."
your expectations for your deaf or hard of hearing child
any different from those for your hearing children?
"The interesting thing about expectations is that
they change. They change for all of us as we grow, find
new interests, and meet new people. It is often said that
parent's expectations and dreams for a child change once
they discover that the child has a hearing loss. This
may be true, but don't our expectations for our hearing
children often change as well once we begin to see the
child's personality take shape and discover who they really
are as they grow? It is the same with our children who
have a hearing loss. No one can predict when a child is
very young what kind of person they will become, or what
they will do with their life as an adult. Many of the
dreams and expectations we have for any of our children
may not be realistic for that particular child. Even if
they are, our children may have no interest whatsoever
in becoming who we envision them to be. It is up to each
of us to choose our own path as we approach adulthood,
and more often than not, the expectations and dreams that
parents have for a child are far different from what the
child may choose. When speaking of expectations, we need
to focus on helping the child reach their fullest potential.
This is what is really important."
"Maybe a little. Speaking of the
school age years, grade-wise and school performance-wise,
we expected excellence to the best of their abilities.
Realistically we understood that in some areas, such as
standardized tests, there might be a lower performance.
Behavior-wise, no difference."
"No. Whether hearing or not, I
expect my children to do their best in school, treat others
with respect, and become useful individuals in society.
Kids live up to your expectations."
"I have always had the belief that
aside from the obvious, like being a receptionist or dealing
with telephone conversations, my daughter who is deaf
will be able to achieve as much as my hearing son or any
other hearing child, and that she will be a successful
adult. The reality is that it will always be more difficult
for her to achieve what she wants to or needs to do in
school, or in the work place. I make allowances for that
which she has not quickly understood. I also make allowances
for the communication issue, but I seldom think of her
as being any different from the other children. When I
think of her, I think of her growing up and doing things
just the way I did or any one else would. She is my daughter,
and she is a person with a future. She just happens to
have a hearing loss."
"No, my kids are both bright, social
children, and I see no reason to have different expectations."
"Yes and no. Behavior expectations
are basically the same. Expectations for other things,
such as sports or employment may be different because
it requires more time and explaining."
"My deaf child has a mild form
of cerebral palsy, so as far as ambulation goes, that
is different, but not in anything else."
"We set goals, expecting him to continue to improve
in all areas, but we also follow his lead."
"My son can be whatever he wants to be. My expectations
are certainly that he will go to college, but what career
he decides to pursue is up to him."
"One of the best pieces of advice
we ever received came from the family counselor assigned
to us shortly after our daughter's deafness was diagnosed.
She looked at us and said, 'Your child is the same child
she was before you found out that she has a hearing loss.
The only difference now is that you may have to learn
to communicate with her a little differently.' This helped
set the stage for our attitudes and opinions about what
our child would be capable of, and because of this, our
expectations for her have always been the same as they
have been for our hearing child. We saw no reason to ever
expect less of her, or assume that she would or could
achieve any less than our son."
"All children are different, so
I don't think you ever raise any two the same. However,
our expectations for our son, educationally, socially,
and emotionally are no different."