The National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) has produced the world's first interactive parenting guide for parents of deaf children by parents of deaf children.
Although some parenting skills are the same whether children are deaf or hearing, some issues are specific to parenting deaf children. These include: persuading children to wear their hearing aids when they don't want to, using props when telling bedtime stories, and soothing deaf children at night time if they are scared of the dark and can’t hear their parents' voices.
The CD-ROM, which includes tips from 30 parents on raising deaf children, is funded by a Family Support Grant from the Home Office. It is entitled Parenting a deaf child and shows film footage of deaf and hearing parents sharing their experiences in speech and British Sign Language (BSL). It is sub-titled and sign language interpreted.
It was created following research conducted by NDCS among 1,300 parents of deaf children. This found that there was no source of information anywhere in the world on bringing up deaf children.
The research found six key areas in which parents experienced difficulties, which are addressed in the CD-ROM:
· Supporting language and communication development
· Helping your child mix with others
· Warning your child of danger
· Managing frustration
· Dealing with emotions
· Building confidence and independence
A number of families were filmed for the CD-ROM, sharing information they had found helpful whilst bringing up their deaf children, and lessons they had learned. These include advice such as:
· Make an A-Z book of photos of activities to help children understand verbs. This could include everything from 'acting' to 'zipping'.
· Let your child choose fun, coloured hearing aids that they can be proud of.
· Make an 'activity board' that shows the child photos of things you often do as a family, such as getting in the car or going shopping. Then use it to ensure your child knows what is going on every day.
Irene Bell, mother of Robert, 16, said:
"I wish that we had had a resource like this available when Robert was little. You often feel as if you are the only person in the world whose child insists on feeding his hearing aid to the dog, but, of course, you aren't.
"Over the years I have really benefited from the experiences of other parents and I hope my contribution to this CD-ROM will be equally helpful to others."
NDCS project manager Kirsteen Coupar said:
"As 90% of the 35,000 deaf children in the UK grow up in hearing families a resource of this kind is vital. Historically there has been very little information available to parents to help them to cope with the challenges of raising a deaf child.
"This CD-ROM will share tips from the people who have the best experience – parents who have already successfully raised deaf children and learnt the lessons themselves."