Academic journal article The Volta Review

Family Empowerment: Supporting Language Development in Young Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Academic journal article The Volta Review

Family Empowerment: Supporting Language Development in Young Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Article excerpt

The current model of early intervention with children who are deaf or hard of hearing emphasizes parental self-efficacy and involvement. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between mothers' self-efficacy beliefs and involvement and children's language skills in a group of mothers of children who are deaf or hard of hearing and wear hearing aids (N = 32). Mothers completed a questionnaire (Scale of Parental Involvement and Self-Efficacy), and mother-child interactions were videotaped. Mothers' self-efficacy beliefs related to developing their children's speech and language were positively associated with higher level facilitative language techniques (recast and open-ended question), and one lower level technique (closed-ended question). Perceived involvement was also positively related to lower level techniques. Regression analyses indicated that the same higher level techniques were associated with children's language skills. Findings present early intervention implications for professionals who work with families and children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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Families of young children who are deaf or hard of hearing have many more opportunities today than in years past to develop a child's spoken language skills. In the past, parents may have felt isolated in their search for resources related to hearing loss, with parent-professional partnerships traditionally marked by "power over" relationships that are defined by professionals presuming a higher sense of competence and greater knowledge than parents (Turnbull, Turbiville, & Turnbull, 2000). The present model of early intervention, referred to as the empowerment model (Turnbull & Turnbull, 2001), places an emphasis on parental involvement in an equal partnership with the professional. In this professional-parent partnership, both work collaboratively to learn from each other about better ways to support the child's language development.

Current recommended practices for children who are deaf or hard of hearing emphasize the importance of not only parental involvement, but also parental competence. Both the Individuals ioith Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA, 2004) and the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (Sandall, McLean, & Smith, 2000) specify that one desired outcome of early intervention is for parents to perceive themselves as capable of supporting their children's growth and development-parental self-efficacy. Parental beliefs will, in turn, make an impact on the child's learning. The role of early intervention professionals is to support parents as they seek to gain access to the information they require to become competent and confident in the skills necessary to support their children's development (McWilliam & Scott, 2001; Turnbull et al., 2000). Parents' beliefs about their skills and involvement in their children's early intervention program are critical components for children's language learning.

Parental Self-Efficacy

Parental self-efficacy beliefs are defined as one's sense of knowledge and abilities to perform or accomplish daily parenting tasks and roles. According to self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1997), parental self-efficacy beliefs should incorporate (1) the level of specific knowledge pertaining to the behaviors involved in child-rearing and (2) the degree of confidence in one's own ability to carry out the specific parental role. For example, Conrad, Gross, Fogg, and Ruchala (1992) noted that mothers' increased knowledge alone did not result in better interactions with their young children. Increased knowledge and confidence together, however, resulted in more effective interactions with their hearing toddlers.

A key component of self-efficacy theory states that parents' efficacy beliefs are linked to the goals they have for their children (Bandura, 1989). …

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