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Information for grandparents

Photo: Having a deaf grandchild will mean there are new things to learn.

When you first find out that your grandchild is deaf, you may feel shocked or upset. You may have no previous experience of deafness and feel unsure of where to look for support, or have some experience of deafness and feel ready to help. There’s no right or wrong way to feel.

Catherine is mum to Oscar (1)
“We stated early on that we didn't want Oscar to grow up feeling pitied for his deafness, and the attitude we all had to instil in him was one in which he knew he could achieve anything he wanted. His grandparents are a huge part of this. We are open and honest about his diagnosis but we also never talk about it in a negative way.”

There’s lots of support available to help you learn more about deafness and what this means for your grandchild, as well as for your child and the wider family.

As you read this information, bear in mind that every deaf child is different and what works for one family might not work for another. The most important thing you can do is support your child to make the best choices for your grandchild.

First steps after your grandchild is identified as having a hearing loss

Catherine is mum to Oscar (1).
“My parents knew Oscar had failed the newborn hearing screening and we were going for further tests, but no one expected him to be deaf so it was a complete shock. It took me a couple of days before I was ready to properly discuss it with my parents and they understood that it was taking me time to come to terms with the diagnosis. When we sat down and talked about it, we all agreed that all that mattered was that we would all do everything possible to ensure that Oscar grew up a happy, content, fulfilled person.”

If your grandchild has recently been identified as deaf, it’s natural to want to know as much as possible about their diagnosis. However, it may not be possible or appropriate for your child to explain everything they’ve been told by your grandchild’s doctors, especially if they’re feeling overwhelmed themselves!

Developing your own understanding of childhood deafness will help you to understand what’s happening in your grandchild’s appointments. Take a look at our first diagnosis information to start learning about childhood deafness and some of the practical things you can do to help the family.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about your grandchild’s hearing loss, the causes of deafness and the technology that they may start using, take a look at our pages on childhood deafness.

Supporting your child and the family

Maria is grandmother to Oliver (6) who’s severely deaf and wears hearing aids.
“Oliver has a really good Teacher of the Deaf, but I can see how some parents get frustrated if they don’t have that support. I think that’s where grandparents can come into it more. When a parent is down and disheartened and doesn’t know what else to do, it can be good for the grandparents to say, ‘Right, I can get you this information; let me take this on for you – I can fight your corner.’”

As a grandparent, the main way you can support your grandchild is by supporting your own child. There are lots of things you can do to provide support, both emotionally and practically.

We have a range of online events for families that can help both you and your child, from advice on issues like self-esteem, emotional health and wellbeing, to practical things like understanding technology and finding out about benefits.

As well as taking care of your grandchild’s health and wellbeing, you might feel your child needs support with their own emotional health and wellbeing too. Scope offer useful information for helping parents come to terms with their child’s diagnosis. We also have information about professional support for parents on our website.

If your grandchild is identified as deaf when they’re very young, your child will have to make lots of choices on their child’s behalf about things like the technology they use and the language they learn. Try to be supportive of these choices, even if you don’t agree with them. For more advice on how to support your child’s parenting, visit Family Lives.

Enjoying time with your grandchild

Maria is grandmother to Oliver (6) who is severely deaf and wears hearing aids.
“When we take the children to the park or farm and Oliver goes and plays, I make sure we can see each other. I’ll look at him and put my thumb up and he’ll put his thumb up to say he’s OK. If he shakes his head, I know he’s not OK so I’ll go over. Or if he calls me over I put my thumb up so he knows I’ve heard him.”

Spending time with your grandchild is a great way to bond, as well as giving your child some time off! Whether you’re caring for your grandchild regularly, or simply enjoying some time with them when you both can, it’s important that you feel confident communicating with them and looking after their hearing technology.

  • Learn more about language and communication and how you can support your grandchild’s communication preferences.
  • Find out about technology and watch a tutorial on changing hearing aid batteries.
  • See playtime tips and ideas.
  • To find out about making things a bit more deaf-friendly at home, and helping other friends and family do the same, visit our pages on being deaf-friendly.

Support from other grandparents

There are lots of ways you can connect with other families and grandparents. Your Community is our online community, where you can chat with other family members, ask for advice and share your experiences. We also offer events for families and local support groups where grandparents are welcomed.

If you’d like to read other grandparents’ experiences, our brand-new blog for grandparents is a great place to start. Read Maria’s story to learn about her relationship with her grandson.

Providing regular childcare

Maria is grandmother to Oliver (6) who’s severely deaf and wears hearing aids.
“We use Oliver’s radio aid when he's in the garden - although he ignores us on purpose sometimes! We also keep a good supply of batteries for his hearing aids.”

Providing regular childcare for your grandchild whilst their parents are working can be a great experience for you both, but it can also be challenging at times.

For information and resources about taking on childcare responsibilities as a grandparent, visit the Saga website.

If you’re below pension age and caring for a grandchild aged under 12, you may be entitled to National Insurance credits.

For more information about helping children learn at home, either in the early years or after school, visit our webpages on learning at home.

If your grandchild is regularly with you, it’s important that you learn to manage their hearing aids, cochlear implants or bone conduction hearing device. Try to follow your child’s advice on how and when your grandchild should be encouraged to wear their hearing technology.