Support group imparts hope

2018-01-31 06:02
The first meeting of the Department of South African Sign Language at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) new support group for parents with hearing impaired children was held at the Bon Hotel Bloemfontein Central. From the left are Pinkie Mngoma (mother of an eight-year-old), Susan Lombaard (acting head of the Department of South African Sign Language at the UFS), Lefu Moga (parent of a six-year-old) and Zelda Lombard with Liam Lombard (nine months).Photo: Lientjie Mentz

The first meeting of the Department of South African Sign Language at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) new support group for parents with hearing impaired children was held at the Bon Hotel Bloemfontein Central. From the left are Pinkie Mngoma (mother of an eight-year-old), Susan Lombaard (acting head of the Department of South African Sign Language at the UFS), Lefu Moga (parent of a six-year-old) and Zelda Lombard with Liam Lombard (nine months).Photo: Lientjie Mentz

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They recently found out that their nine-month-old baby will not benefit from a cochlear implant and they are devastated.

This is just one of the stories of the group of 13 parents who attended the first meeting of a support group for parents who have a child with a hearing disability.

Susan Lombaard, acting head of the Department of South African Sign Language at the University of the Free State, says they are overjoyed by the number of parents who came to the first meeting at the Bon Hotel Bloemfontein Central on Monday (29/01).

She says research shows that more than 90% of deaf children have hearing parents and siblings.

“When parents find out that their child is deaf or has a hearing disability, they are shocked, sad and often blame themselves.”

At the meeting, she said that these parents go through stages of grief when they find out.

They suddenly find themselves in unknown territory without the slightest idea of how to adjust.

Most of the parents at the meeting said their biggest challenge is communicating with their hearing-impaired children and that it would help to they all want tolearn sign language better.

The support group is an initiative of the Department of South African Sign Language and aims to help these parents with the choices they have to make and adapt to their situation as best they can.

Lombaard says many children go to schools for the deaf and use South African Sign Language as communication.

The department will give special classes to parents who want to learn this language.

The support group will meet monthly.

The next meeting will be held on Saturday, 3 March, at 15:00.

Parents who want to attend this session can call Lombaard or Wilmare Terblanche on 051-401-2251.

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