Deaf children with additional needs

We have produced this booklet for parents and carers of deaf children with additional needs.

Having a deaf child with additional needs affects you, your partner and your family. Family, friends and neighbours may react to your child’s deafness in different ways. You may like to meet other families who also have a child with additional needs (for example, you can contact the NDCS events team about events run for families with children with additional needs).

No single booklet can give you all the answers, but this booklet aims to start answering some questions and suggest where to go for more information and support.

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Any extra need can be worrying. If you understand the need you can act, find others who have had a similar experience, get advice, start to feel in control again, and enjoy being a family. Sometimes you may feel you know more than the professionals involved and this can be very frustrating. Parents and professionals both have lots to contribute to any discussion about needs, and how these may best be met for your child. And they both have lots to learn.

It is estimated that up to 40% of all deaf children have some extra health, social or educational need. These needs, known as additional needs, arise as a result of other conditions ranging from asthma, colour blindness and dyslexia to severe learning and physical disabilities. Also, every child has their own personality and learning style.

They may be someone who watches or someone who joins in, someone who likes lots of activity or someone who is naturally quiet. It is sometimes easy to let the challenges your child faces overwhelm other aspects of their personality. This is called ‘overshadowing’.

Many parents say that when they are at an appointment, professionals focus on only one aspect of the child and ignore other aspects.

For example, a child who has Down’s syndrome may be seen firstly as having a learning disability, secondly as having a hearing loss and thirdly as an outgoing friendly child, rather than being seen as a whole person.

All levels and types of deafness affect children differently. You may hear phrases such as ‘it’s the least of their problems’ or ‘given other challenges, we don’t need to worry about hearing’. It is inappropriate for any professional to decide whether a hearing loss is important to you or your child. If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, your concerns should be taken seriously.

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