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American Annals of the Deaf

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Parents and Their Deaf Children: The Early Years

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My son loves baseball. I would like him to play on a team, but not all the kids may understand the fact that my son is deaf. That means it would take more input from me to push him a little. Sometimes you may not want to push them too hard. You want him to make his own decision and things like that. How far would you push him before you push him over the edge? That type of thing. [A deaf adult friend] said he played with everybody just like a normal kid. He said push him a little and see what happens. Which is what I have to do now. Push him a little and see what happens. (Interview 2)

Financial Concerns
The NPP survey indicates that in Hispanic households, mothers often did not work outside the home (68%) or had lower-paying jobs. In African American families, the mother was more often working (51%), with about one third in clerical positions and another third in lower-skill-level jobs. These employment conditions contribute to the challenges that minority parents face with deaf and hard of hearing children. One mother described her frustration in getting Social Security coverage for deafness-related expenses:

Right now, Iím still trying to get his Social Security thing going. . . . It has been difficult because theyíre not making it easy. I know a lot of people whoíve gotten Social Security for lesser things. Itís not like heís faking his hearing loss and stuff like that. Iím still in the process of that. That has been very difficult. (Interview 2)

Another mother felt her child needed more speech therapy than the school provided. Because her insurance did not cover the expense, extra therapy created an economic hardship:

They felt like he was getting it at school. We didnít feel like it was enough. . . . They give it to you at school, but they only give you like 30 minutes a week. (Survey 334)

Other parents expressed frustration with insurance companiesí high deductible fees. Because of the lower economic status of many minority families, financial expenditures are a special concern.

Because no services for deaf children were available close to their home, one family sent their son to a residential school many miles away. The mother wanted to be involved in her sonís education and to support the school when behavior problems arose. However, she found the distance created a financial burden for her:

If my son gets in trouble or something, they want me to drive 150 miles, 300 miles to come get him. And thatís so hard on you. And, um, here it is, Iím barely making it, and Iím a struggling mother and they want me to, I mean, I know this is my kid and this is coming out wrong, but you gotta understand the background behind it. If youíre poor, and they want you to come get your kid, you donít have the gas, your car barely runs, and I donít think that they see that. But yet thereís nothing I can do because thereís nothing up here for him so I can put him close to me. (Survey 53)

Gerner de Garcia (2000) reports that Hispanic families may be unable to obtain services or participate in their childís center-based program because of lack of transportation or child care, work schedules, or cultural or language barriers. With this knowledge in mind, the NPP invitation to participate in focus groups included reimbursement for transportation, child care, food, and financial incentives.

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