Hearing loss in children causing parental distress

Parents are deeply affected when their child is diagnosed with hearing loss. Immediately following the diagnosis the quality of life of the parents suffers significantly. But in the long run a normal quality of life is regained.

Grief, helplessness and aggression are among the emotions felt by parents when their child is diagnosed with hearing loss. This was the finding by German researchers based on a survey examining the correlation between hearing and speech issues in children and the emotional state of their parents.

The survey included 39 parents of children with cochlear implants and 32 parents of children with hearing aids. The parents were interviewed about their psychological condition when their child received the implant or hearing aids and again six months later.

Parents in both groups experienced significant improvements in their quality of life over the survey period. At the first interview, the collective sense of quality of life was low. Six months later, the quality of life experience had recovered to normal.

Stressful choice

The period immediately following the diagnosis was found to be particularly stressful for the parents.

The parents of borderline children advised with some uncertainty to receive cochlear implants over hearing aids were most affected as a group. Even if these children had the best speech and hearing ability in comparison with the other children, their parents felt under greater pressure because of the difficulty in making the final decision about the more invasive cochlear implantation.

Based on the survey results, the German researchers recommend that the hearing specialists focus attention on the parents and their worries and uncertainties, as well as on the hearing impaired children.

Source: Parental Distress: The Initial Phase of Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant Fitting, American Annals of the Deaf, vol. 150, nr. 1, 2005

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