Parental conceptualizations of autism and deafness in British deaf children

Alys Young, Emma Ferguson-Coleman, Barry Wright, Ann Le Couteur

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The co-occurrence of childhood deafness and autism raises complex challenges for diagnosis and family support. In this article we explore with hearing and Deaf parents their observations of the interaction between deafness and autism and identify how the intersections of deafness and autism are conceptualized in everyday life. Eight parents participated (two of whom were Deaf BSL users) in semi-structured interviews in either BSL or spoken English. Data analysis was underpinned by a phenomenological approach in the hermeneutic tradition. Findings are discussed in terms of parents’ perceptions of the relevance of deafness to their understanding of autism for their particular child, the effects of autism on sign and spoken language development and the relationship between deafness and autism in terms of their own and others’ attributions of their children’s characteristics. The significance of the findings for parental contributions’ to diagnostic assessment and the tailoring of family support are considered.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Early online date6 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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