Survey Shows Parents of DHH Kids Feel Generic Support is Not Enough
The value of informational resources and social-emotional supports for families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing is well recognized in a growing number of research studies. However, the critical aspects of effective family support are not widely identified and established. Many agencies and organizations offer broad non-categorical family support, intended and designed for family members of children with a variety of disabilities, but not exclusively specific to deafness or hearing loss. Preliminary findings from a recent study suggest generic family resources and support may fall short by not specifically tailoring to the experiences of parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
A current research inquiry, partially funded by the Project TIES (USDOE), is examining the critical features of family support and resources valued by parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing (Jackson, submitted). Researchers at Florida State University have reviewed responses from over 450 families nationwide who participated. Among the most drastic contrasts was the difference in rankings of sources of support. Parents ranked support from other parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing among their top three sources of support. In contrast, support from other parents of children with disabilities (not deaf or hard of hearing) was ranked second to the lowest for both 0-3 and school age years.
Clear Preferences for DHH Family Support
This trend was also observed in parents’ responses when asked to rate their preferences for accessing informational resources findings. Discussion with parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing received the highest average rating as a highly preferred source for accessing information. In contrast, discussion with parents of children who are not deaf or hard of hearing received the lowest overall preference rating, with half of the participants rating it as non-preferred or disliked. A full report of the findings and discussion will be made available in publication. The results highlight the importance and need for connections specifically with other parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The value of connecting with other family members was further substantiated by the fact that the importance of connecting with other parents of children who were deaf or hard of hearing consistently surfaced across sections and different question-types (e.g., rankings of sources of support, ratings of preferred social supports, and open ended written comments about desired supports). This is one of the strongest messages emerging from this 2009 nationwide study.