2023 Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Conference

March 5-7, 2023 • Cincinnati, OH


3/14/2022  |   10:05 AM - 10:30 AM   |  Catch them on the FLIP Side: Supporting & Empowering Parents of Children who are Deaf with Disabilities   |  Room 6

Catch them on the FLIP Side: Supporting & Empowering Parents of Children who are Deaf with Disabilities

An estimated 40-60 percent of children who are (D)deaf/hard of hearing have additional health challenges outside of their hearing. (https://www.handsandvoices.org/resources/dhh-plus.html) These additional diagnoses, from mental health challenges to cerebral palsy and beyond, often complicate the standard processes of hearing loss identification and interventions, not only for the child but for the family. Parents of children who are (D)deaf with disabilities need a different type and level of support than the approach to which many hearing professionals may be accustomed. This presentation, from a first-hand parent perspective, outlines four key areas where hearing professionals need to FLIP the script when working with parents of young children who are (D)deaf with disabilities: Flexibility: Professionals must be flexible in their scheduling and approach while families need to know that they have the freedom to be flexible when it comes to making choices like communication mode for their child. If something is not working, families must know that they can make a change to find the right fit. Language: Professionals should never assume that certain labels/language are acceptable to a family. Additionally, professionals must be careful to avoid language that may inadvertently make parents feel defeated and derail progress with interventions at home. Integration: For children who are (D)deaf with disabilities and their families, nearly every aspect of development and even daily life is connected. Hearing professionals should strive to integrate physical, occupational, and other therapies into their interventions. Priorities: For parents of children who are (D)deaf with Disabilities, the metaphor of spinning multiple plates is about as close to literal as it gets. Often, the child’s hearing is NOT the main health priority for a family. Professionals must strike a delicate balance of making hearing a priority when it needs to be while recognizing that it simply must take a back seat to other needs at times.

  • Participants will reflect on ways they must change their current practices to better meet the needs of parents of children who are deaf with disabilities in order for them to achieve at their highest potential, both now and in the future.
  • Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges parents face when raising a young child who is deaf with disabilities.
  • Participants will leave with a simple framework to display or refer back to as they work with families in their professional settings.



CART transcripts are NOT YET available, but will be posted shortly after the conference


Amy Keslinke (Virtual), Illinois Hands and Voices Guide by Your Side, akeslinke.gbys@gmail.com;
Amy Keslinke is an educator with experience teaching students from middle school into adulthood. When she learned during her second pregnancy that her son would be born with a congenital heart defect, she knew her life as a parent would be different than she expected. When he was diagnosed with severe-to-profound hearing loss at six months old and continued to pile on multiple other medical diagnoses before his first birthday, Amy’s passion for writing and teaching morphed into a special interest in empowering parents of children who are deaf with disabilities. Amy has presented at the state and national level and is a Parent Guide with Illinois Hands and Voices Guide By Your Side, where she provides unbiased support to parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing, many of whom have additional disabilities as well. She is also a Parent Facilitator with the Illinois Service Resource Library, where she helps plan and coordinate events to educate parents of children who are DHH and is an adjunct faculty member in the Adult Basic/Secondary Education program at Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois. She lives in Gilberts, Illinois, with her husband, Dan, and children, Emerie and Evan.


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