Exploring communication opportunities for your child can feel like a big task. Remember, the choices you make now don’t have to be permanent. As your baby grows and reaches their first milestones, we can help you to monitor their progress and decide whether to try a different opportunity or use different tools. Here are some questions to ask yourself as well as things to investigate and talk about with us:
Questions to ask yourself:
· What level of deafness does my child have?
· Is my child’s level of deafness likely to change in the future?
· Does my child have any additional needs which might make certain communication methods more suitable?
· What support will my family and I need to learn to communicate with my child in our chosen approach? Do we have access to that support?
· What new skills will we have to learn as a family and how can we best commit to that?
· Will professional support for my choice be provided locally or will I need to travel?
· How might my choice affect my child’s future, in terms of social and educational experiences and opportunities?
Questions to investigate and talk about with us:
· What are the communication opportunities available to me and my child?
· What other opportunities might be supported in the surrounding areas?
· Are there any other opportunities that I can find out about?
· How can I meet other parents who have chosen a variety of approaches and learn from their experiences?
· How can I meet D/deaf adults or young people who use varied approaches to learn from their experiences?
· What opportunities exist locally for my child to learn alongside other children in our choice of approach?
Finding communication opportunities that are supported in your area
The way you choose to communicate with your child should be guided by what your child needs, not just by the availability of support for your chosen communication approach. However, support for all communication approaches is not always readily available in every area. If your preferred communication opportunity is not routinely supported in your area, talk to us about how you can access the support and information you need.
Making an informed Choice
As well as getting information from your local services, there are academic institutions, charities, and private businesses that can direct you to research that may help to make an informed choice about communication. These organizations might promote a specific communication approach.
Although charities and organizations promoting a specific communication method might have lots of evidence to show why their approach is successful, there isn’t enough evidence to show that ANY one method of communication is better than another. Every D/deaf child is different, and what works for one family might not be the best option for another.
· Be aware of the potential biases of those informing you about the different opportunities and make sure you explore a variety of perspectives.
· Although some opportunities may work with some children, they may not work with others.
· Your choice shouldn’t be guided by your child’s level of deafness alone.
· All communication opportunities can be successful for children with a variety of levels of deafness but access to sound is critical to the development of spoken language.
Changing your Approach
As your child develops and you learn more about their natural strengths and style of learning, you might want to try different communication opportunities. That doesn’t mean your first choice was wrong. After all, you made your decision based on what seemed right at the time. If you feel that your child is coping socially and educationally, but not thriving, then consider whether your first choice is still the best one. Monitor your child’s development against typical expectations, and also look at how their communication allows them to enjoy their friendships and social experiences.
We are prepared to discuss your child’s progress and development with you and help you consider other opportunities. We want to support your child to make the best progress. If you’re worried about any aspect of your child’s development, please reach out to us. We can work with you as you re-evaluate your choice of approach. Here are some questions to considers:
· Will it involve changing nursery or school?
· Will it involve different ways of supporting your child’s social needs?
· Might you need to learn new approaches as a family?
· What impact might change have on your child?
· Is your child old enough to express a view themselves?
If your child or your family’s view is different from yours, then talk through the possibilities together with the professionals who knows you. As your child gets older, they will develop their own communication preferences. All children are different, and their needs and preferences can change over time. Make sure to give any communication opportunity a chance to succeed before deciding any change may be needed.