The Deaf Child in the Family and at School: Essays in Honor of Kathryn P. Meadow-Orlans

By Patricia Elizabeth Spencer; Carol J. Erting et al. | Go to book overview

I
The Deaf Child in the Family

A child's development is integrally related to the ecology of the family. This is as true for deaf and hard of hearing children as for other children. In this section, a unique set of chapters explores the development of deaf and hard of hearing children within the family. Together, the chapters describe the ways deaf children and those around them develop or fail to develop synchronous and reciprocal relationships. These relationships form the ever-changing matrix for social, language, and cognitive growth as children become, perhaps paradoxically, increasingly independent but increasingly interdependent with their environments. Each in its own way, the following chapters provide insights into the ways deaf children and those around them see themselves and each other, the way their behaviors and those of their parents are intertwined, and the increasing complexity of development in context.

In the first chapter, Sheridan explores deaf children's understanding of who they are and their relations to other deaf and hearing individuals in the family and beyond. Researchers are accustomed to using definitions in research to place children and concepts into various categories. Here, Sheridan discovers the categories in which deaf children place themselves. Thus, she provides a glimpse of the social matrix from the perspective of those who are usually categorized. Sheridan's analysis points out the importance of modes of communication in the children's view of those who are like and unlike themselves. Despite this theme, the children's responses to Sheridan's questions suggest that they are not always sure where they fit -- a personal challenge that can continue, often throughout their lives, for deaf individuals.

The five chapters that follow provide a comprehensive, integrative view of the early developmental ecologies of deaf and hard of hearing children within the family. Early research of investigators like Kathryn

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