Social Participation of Children and Adolescents With Cochlear Implants: A Qualitative Analysis of Parent, Teacher, and Child Interviews
Psychosocial factors, including socioemotional well-being, peer relationships, and social inclusion with hearing and deaf peers, are increasingly becoming a focus of research investigating children with cochlear implants. The study reported here extends the largely quantitative findings of previous research through a qualitative analysis of interviews with parents, teachers, and pediatric cochlear implant users themselves in three eastern states of Australia. We interviewed 24 parents, 15 teachers, and 11 children and adolescents. The findings displayed commonalities across the three groups of participants, indicating positive experiences around the children’s psychosocial development with their cochlear implants, but also ongoing difficulties communicating in groups of people and problems related to social skills. Some children had little contact with other deaf children (with or without cochlear implants) despite parents and teachers perceiving such contact beneficial. Children attending schools where there were other deaf children valued friendships with both deaf and hearing peers. Adolescence was a particularly difficult time for some as they struggled with feelings of self-consciousness about their deafness and external cochlear implant equipment and worries around friendships, dating, and their future place in the world. Recommendations for practice and further research are made.