Health, education and social care professionals are failing to provide families of deaf children with complex disabilities with the services and medical care they need, claims a new report by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).
Researchers found that families encountered problems relating to late diagnosis and access to appropriate medical treatment and specialist support. The report says that some professionals are “overwhelmed by the complexity of needs” while others treat deafness as a minor condition that can be addressed later in the child’s life.
Increasing survival rates for children born prematurely, and for those who suffer serious illness, have led to rises in the numbers of children with complex needs. Speaking on publication of the report, NDCS Chief Executive Susan Daniels called for services to work closely with parents and to “drastically improve” how they support these children. “It is particularly shocking to discover the low expectations that some professionals have of these children, often seeing the collection of conditions rather than the child,” she said.
Conducting the research, Dr Wendy McCracken of the University of Manchester interviewed 50 families of deaf children with conditions such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy which, when combined with their deafness, require more tailored approaches to their individual needs.
The report, Complex Needs, Complex Challenges, is available at: