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How to help child with hearing loss complex decision

Parents of young children who experience hearing loss are influenced by a number of external factors when deciding how their child will communicate, new research from Charles Sturt University has shown.

This study from CSU professor Sharynne McLeod and Dr Kate Crowe showed when parents decide whether their child would use speech or sign language or use a hearing implant, influences could include advice from professionals, access to hearing aids such as cochlear implants, previous intervention experiences, the practicalities of communication methods, and establishing a sense of belonging for their children.

McLeod says this research will help speech pathologists and educators better support families and children.

“Parents are committed to finding the best possible communication pathway for their child and take a number of factors into consideration when doing so,” McLeod said. “Speech pathologists and educators will be able to better support families and their children by understanding the different characteristics, experiences and perspectives that parents bring to the task of making decisions about their children’s communication.”

Results also showed Australian children and their families often use a diverse range of languages, including sign language. Crowe said more parents than children were multilingual, and that children were more likely to be multilingual at home than in their early intervention setting. She also said a desire to enhance a child’s sense of belonging is often behind decisions to use speech and sign language as part of their communication system.

McLeod and Crowe hope the research will help professionals and organisations develop information and services that cater for language and communication modes used by hearing impaired children and their families, allowing greater access and engagement with early intervention and education services.

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