To assist medical and hearing-science professionals in supporting parents of deaf children, we have identified common questions that parents may have and provide evidence-based answers. In doing so, a compassionate and positive narrative about deafness and deaf children is offered, one that relies on recent research evidence regarding the critical nature of early exposure to a fully accessible visual language, which in the United States is American Sign Language (ASL). This evidence includes the role of sign language in language acquisition, cognitive development, and literacy. In order for parents to provide a nurturing and anxiety-free environment for early childhood development, signing at home is important even if their child also has the additional nurturing and care of a signing community. It is not just the early years of a child’s life that matter for language acquisition; it’s the early months, the early weeks, even the early days. Deaf children cannot wait for accessible language input. The whole family must learn simultaneously as the deaf child learns. Even moderate fluency on the part of the family benefits the child enormously. And learning the sign language together can be one of the strongest bonding experiences that the family and deaf child have.
  • Author(s):
    Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Napoli, DJ, Padden, C., Rathmann, C., & Smith, SR
  • Published:
  • Journal:
    International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
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Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Napoli, D. J., Rathmann, C., & Smith, S. (2019). Support for parents of deaf children: Common questions and informed, evidence-based answers. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 118, 134–142.