'Part of our world': Influences on caregiver decisions about communication choices for children with hearing loss

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Abstract

Caregivers of young children with hearing loss make decisions about which communication mode/s and spoken language/s their children and family will use. Influences on decision-making about communication were examined for 177 caregivers of Australian children with hearing loss through a questionnaire. The majority of the 157 children used speech as part or all of their communication system (n = 138, 87.9%), and approximately one-third of the children (n = 52, 33.1%) currently or had previously used sign as part or all of their communication system. Twenty-two (14.0%) children and 35 (19.8%) caregivers used a spoken language other than English. Four themes emerged from the qualitative analysis of caregiver responses about the most important influences on their decision-making. Theme one identified caregivers' sources of information, including advice from professionals, family, and friends, as well as caregivers' own research and preferences. Theme two related to practicalities of communication within the family and the community, as well as the need for one language or communication mode to be acquired before another was introduced. Theme three described the influence of children's individual characteristics on caregivers' decision-making, including children's ability to access speech through audition, communication skills, additional disabilities, and children' s own preferences about communication. Finally, in theme four caregivers expressed their hopes for their children's future lives, specifically fostering a sense of belonging, creating future opportunities and successes, and giving children the opportunity to choose their own method of communication. The findings can assist families and professionals to make informed decisions about children's communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-85
Number of pages25
JournalDeafness and Education International
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

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