SoundSpace Online

The Family

In many countries around the world, hearing loss is now being identified within the first days of life through newborn hearing screening. Please visit this Boys Town National Research Hospital website page for more information on newborn hearing screening.

This early diagnosis of deafness impacts not only the child. The whole family is affected. In the early days, families often have lots of questions and there are not always easy or immediate answers.

On the positive side, finding out a baby has a hearing loss at such an early age means that they and their families can benefit from the early fitting and management of hearing technologies, and begin to develop communication and language right from the start.

Early identification means that deaf babies are being given the best chance to learn to listen and communicate from:

  • The best people - their families
  • In the best environment - at home
  • At the best time - when their brains are “tuned in” for acquiring language

However, finding out that your new baby has a significant hearing loss may come as a shock, particularly if there is no suspicion that there is any issue. This is the case for most families. They usually find that talking to and listening to the experiences of other families really helps.

Click on these film clips to hear mums talking about how they felt when they found out their baby was deaf. These clips are taken from Parent to Parent, with David Luterman, available from The Ear Foundation website page.

Parents of deaf babies sometimes feel that their child is so different that they are not sure how to communicate with them.

  • Some parents can become very quiet around their deaf baby. They may feel that there is little point in talking to them as they can’t hear
  • Other families go to the opposite extreme and bombard their child with nonstop talking in the mistaken belief that their children will learn to talk by being drowned in language
  • Others find that the relaxed and carefree chats they have with their children are inhibited by not knowing the right words or signs to use

Early support from a range of professionals can be crucial for parents who are coming to terms with deafness in their new baby. But it is most important to remember that families are the most vital and valuable resource for their deaf children. They will be the child’s first and most important language teachers, and there are many ways in which they can positively support their child’s development. The Ear Foundation has made three booklets available which may be helpful for this time, please visit The Ear Foundation website page - Connect and Communicate.