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Me and my deaf brother or sister

Photo: Children tell us about the joys and challenges of having a deaf brother or sister

We asked children to talk about the joys and challenges of having a deaf sibling. Here’s what they said...

What’s it like having a deaf brother or sister?

  • “You have to repeat yourself a lot of times.”
  • “I have to look after my sister when we cross the road as she can’t hear the traffic.”
  • “Feeling special because some children don’t know sign language and you do.”
  • “Hard when he is in the bath as he hasn’t got his aids in so I can’t talk to him.”
  • “They get lots of attention and I sometimes feel left out.” 

What is deafness?

When you find out that you have a deaf brother or sister, you may have lots of questions, like:

  • “What caused his deafness?”
  • “Why are my ears okay? Is it because I’m a girl?”
  • “Why are they the only deaf one in our family?”
  • “What is deafness? I thought only old people like Grandma are deaf.”

There are lots of reasons why someone might be deaf. Some people are born deaf while other people become deaf through being ill, having an accident or getting older. Not all deaf people have the same level of hearing loss; some can hear more than others.

How do you communicate?

  • “I used to interpret for my deaf sister. When I was young, I’d speak for my sister if she didn’t hear what someone was saying.”
  • “Paper and pen.”
  • “I use sign language in our house.”
  • “I talk to him, but we’ve just started learning sign language which is really cool.”
  • “Body language.”
  • “Eye contact.”
  • “I make sure she can see my lips – it is difficult for her to read someone who has a beard as the lips can’t be seen."

Top tips for getting on with your brother or sister

  • “Keep calm when your patience is running out, count to 10 and try and understand that they get fed up too.”
  • “Don’t panic, there is nothing to be scared of.”
  • “If you get frustrated trying to communicate with your deaf brother or sister, think how they might feel too.”
  • “Don’t cover your mouth.”
  • “Don’t be alone – talk to Mum, Dad, or someone else in the family you trust.”
  • “Try to be understanding because they can’t help the fact they can’t hear.”
  • “Don’t let people bully you for having a deaf brother or sister.”
  • “Include them – treat them and love them like you would a hearing brother or sister. Being deaf is just one part of who they are.”
  • “Have fun together.”
  • “Don’t feel guilty for having some time to yourself too – everyone needs that sometimes.”