Although we personally don’t refer to deafness as a disability it can be seen as one and does come with its own challenges. Being a parent of a deaf child requires a little more time, patience and understanding of what your child may be going through.
First, coming to terms with your baby being diagnosed with hearing loss can be a highly emotional and stressful time. It can bring fears, questions and a sense of loss, especially if it comes out of no where, like it did for us and Harry. When we found out about Harry’s hearing loss, the first thing we did was turn to the internet. We headed straight for forums for parents of newly diagnosed deaf children to try and understand what this meant for us as a family. To say it helped would be an understatement. I immediately felt a huge sense of hope as I connected instantly to each person’s story. It was almost like we were part of an exclusive group.
Learning sign language with your deaf or normal hearing baby
We started learning sign language as soon as we found out about Harry’s hearing loss.
Even though Harry has a cochlear implant and can hear our voices, we wanted him to know the basics of sign language for the future. Not only to better communicate with him, but also to be a part of the deaf community. He is still a deaf person after all, and he may very well have deaf friends who only use sign language to communicate.
Not only is sign language useful for children with hearing loss, but its also great for hearing children to learn as well. Even when they are very young, a baby’s motor skills and ability to make hand gestures are far more developed than their ability to speak, which makes it really very easy for them to learn the basics of sign language. You will be so shocked at how fast a little baby can start to copy different hand gestures, eventually realizing they can use their hands to tell you what they need! Imagine if your baby could tell you what they want via signing instead of screaming and wailing!
With help from our Teacher of the Deaf, Harry he had a whole range of signs he was using to communicate with us by the time he was around 9 months old.