Title: 'The Four Stages of Parental Experience: Receiving a Diagnosis of a Child’s Hearing Loss'
Track: 7 - Family Perspectives and Support
Keyword(s): Family Support; Parental Response; Experience
Learning Objectives:
  1. Understand a framework which demarcates the four stages of parental experience
  2. Understand the needs of parents within each particular stage
  3. Reflect on how to tailor intervention to support parents within each stage


This poster arises from the preliminary theoretical development of a PhD. Having interviewed Irish parents who have received an early diagnosis of their Child’s hearing loss, the analysis of data revealed that Parental experiences can be characterized into four distinct stages: 1) Anticipation: Parents begin to realize that their child may have a hearing loss. There is a huge amount of uncertainly, stress, and vulnerability at this stage, particularly for hearing parents who have had no previous experience or exposure to hearing loss and no deaf role models in their life. 2) Confirmation: The child’s hearing loss is confirmed. Hearing parents, with no family history of hearing loss, no deaf role models, and no previous exposure to deafness, often experience acute grief at this point which encompasses a plethora of strong emotions. 3) Initial Response: This includes the initial response of both parents and services. Parents have very specific needs at this point, particularly with regard to receiving early intervention services, education, and emotional support. Exposure to an older deaf child often transforms parents understanding of their child’s hearing loss and infuses them with a new hopefulness regarding their child. 4) Ongoing Response: This stage encompasses a practically varied collection of experiences because: a. Parents respond with varying levels of involvement in the services their Child is accessing b. Parents vary in their capacity to advocate as they encounter significant difficulties in the health care system c. Parents have varied levels of participation in charities and support organizations The demarcation of these distinct stages clarifies the specific needs of parents within each period. This provides a framework for professionals to tailor their support for families as they travel through each stage. This level of professional discretion and understanding is critical in order to support families as effectively as possible.
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Meabh Kenny - Primary Presenter,Author
University College Cork, Ireland, Europe
     Credentials: BA, Hdip, MSW and current PhD student in University College Cork, Ireland, Europe.
      Méabh (pronounced Mave) Kenny is currently a PhD student. She is under the supervision of Dr Robert Fourie in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, in University College Cork. Méabh has a background in Social Work, obtaining an Masters in Social Work in 2010, and subsequently working in the fields of Intellectual Disability, Family Support, and Research, before embarking on a PhD. Méabh’s PhD is entitled: A qualitative analysis of parental coping following early diagnosis of hearing loss in Ireland. Neonatal Hearing Screening is a very recent phenomenon in the Irish Health Care System and has only been in effect for the past two years. One of the aspirations of Méabh's PhD is to make recommendations improve the Irish system and support families more effectively.

Financial - Receives Other financial benefit for Other activities from University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, Europe.  

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Dr. Robert Fourie - Author
University College Cork, Ireland, Europe
     Credentials: BA(Sp & H Th); MA(Audiology); PhD(App. Psychology)
      Dr. Robert Fourie completed his Bachelors degree in Speech and Hearing Therapy at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), South Africa in 1992. He subsequently worked as a SLT for Deaf children for 2 years; and then later completed a Masters Degree in Audiology. During this time, he worked as an academic and clinical tutor in the Wits University Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology. He was also employed as a lecturer in Linguistics. In June 1999, he worked in Ireland as a Paediatric Audiological Scientist for 18 months; and then later as a Senior Speech and Language Therapist. Robert was appointed as Lecturer in the department of Speech and Hearing Sciences in May, 2003. He has helped develop the undergraduate course in SLT, has lectured & supervised postgraduates & completed a PhD in applied Psychology. He is currently Audiology Lead in the department of Speech & Hearing Sciences.

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