The Deaf Child and Family in Transition
Parents of deaf or hard of hearing children have to make a variety of decisions that parents of hearing children do not face. The confusing diversity of education and therapy programs, language methods, amplification technologies, and, more recently, the possibility of medical interventions available for deaf and hard of hearing children present parents with increasingly difficult choices. Parents often turn to doctors, educators, and early intervention specialists for information on which to base these decisions. Although professional assistance is often available to parents through early intervention programs, the quality of parents' experiences with early intervention and other professionals is quite varied. The four chapters in this section provide a look at the transition from issues related to the child within the family context to that of the family interacting with professionals who provide support services as parents negotiate the tangle of issues relating to raising and educating a deaf or hard of hearing child.
In the first chapter, Spencer reports on a case study of a deaf child in a hearing family that exemplifies the educational and medical issues, challenges, and decisions such families face. From the parents' first nagging doubts about the ability of their child to hear, to the hard decisions that all parents of deaf children have to make, Spencer provides a human perspective on our too often antiseptic, empirical view of development. This story of the ups and downs of hearing parents struggling to understand and provide support for their deaf child and their positive and negative experiences with professionals should serve as a caution for those who believe that a professional's role is to provide quick answers to complex questions.