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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The proliferation of national and statewide universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) programs is ensuring that early identification of deafness (within the first few months of life) is now the norm in many developed counties. In combination with sustained and quality multiprofessional intervention services, early identification holds the promise of enhanced developmental outcomes for deaf children. However, medium- and long-term developmental outcomes remain largely unknown. Following a brief review of this background, this chapter will primarily focus on the impact on the family context of the very early identification of deafness through routine UNHS. It will begin by assessing how much and in what respects it is possible to claim that early identification is changing the basis on which hearing parents engage with the challenges of parenting a deaf child. Three issues in particular are considered: potential changes in grief and loss responses, the impact of the timing of confirmation of childhood deafness, and influences on parental envisioning of the implications of their children’s deafness. The evidence review will enable an analysis of the extent to which it is still possible to trust the findings of longstanding studies on how hearing parents adjust to childhood deafness, or whether new questions for research and practice now arise.

Keywords: universal newborn hearing screening, parental adjustment, early intervention, early identification

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