Families also need accurate information and access to resources to support their ability to make informed decisions about important issues such as which communication and language approach fits the needs of their child best and what educational programs and service options are available to them. Families whose children are D/HH report, however, that professionals sometimes cite the best interests of the family to excuse their own biases or provide only selective information about important issues. Professionals need to explore their own biases and beliefs that may interfere with their efforts to provide effective services to families ( McAdoo, 1993).
The parents in this study welcomed the opportunity to provide advice to the professionals that serve families with D/HH children. Their advice included listen to parents, do not patronize, provide information regarding the full range of choices, involve parents in the decision making, and recognize that conflicts will arise in the parents' and the professionals' views. One parent's comments at the end of her phone interview summarizes the importance of this study as follows: "I hope that it helps somebody else. I really hope it helps some other parent some day -- that would make me feel good. Yeah."
Additional research is needed to explore parents' experiences beyond that reported here. This study was based solely on data from self-report on a questionnaire and phone interview. A richer picture could be developed by adding additional dimensions derived from observation of family dynamics. In addition, families with different characteristics could be explored, such as identifying differential experiences for families in which the parents are deaf or members of racial or ethnic minority groups, or families in which the child has an additional disability or whose diagnosis occurred later than average. Another population of interest is families who have chosen to use cochlear implants for their communication enhancement. Such research could provide professionals with more complete information on the needs of diverse families of D/HH children.
The authors wish to acknowledge Kathryn P. Meadow-Orlans for her work on this research and the Gallaudet University Research Institute for funding. We are grateful to the parents who by sharing their time, memories, and advice with us made this work possible.
Calderon R., & Greenberg M. ( 1997). The effectiveness of early intervention for deaf children and children with hearing loss. In M. Guralnick (Ed.), The effectiveness of early intervention (pp. 455-482). Baltimore: Brookes.