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When you find your team

This story represents the stories of parents whose children are deaf or hard of hearing with additional needs.

We interviewed some parents and their thoughts and perspectives are combined into this story – written for Aussie Deaf Kids by a writer and academic.

“My thing was about trusting my intuition and gut.”

You will receive SO much advice from people during your life as the parent of a deaf child.

Doctors, specialists, therapists, teachers, friends, family – all have a stake in your child’s life and wellbeing. It can feel so overwhelming that you might feel lost or confused at times.

It’s like standing inside a wind tunnel some days trying to hear your own voice above the maelstrom of information and advice coming at you from so many fronts.

The choices parents make about the management of their child’s deafness can have lifelong implications for their child.

Many questions need answering before parents can effectively evaluate the short- and long-term consequences of their options and whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in the long-term.

But you are not powerless. Ever.

For me, “listening to my gut” has always meant asking our doctors more questions or for further information. As a parent, your voice is important in those appointments, and it will get stronger as you do.

For our family, the choice to offer our daughter access to both Auslan and speech was a personal one that had an immediate impact on her communication; the long-term benefit of sign language to her sense of identity and belonging to her Deaf culture and community was hard to picture in those dark, early days.

I trusted my gut, yes, but I also relied on specialist advice and hard evidence before choosing that path which has been at times challenging but ultimately rewarding for us all.

Eventually you will also build a team of people around you and your child – that intuitive teacher, a trusted fellow parent in the same boat, the paediatrician who’s been there from the start – that will be the scaffolding that supports you through all of the changes and new decisions you’ll have to make.

Thank you to Melinda Hilderbrandt for her literary touch on this parent story.

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