The initial experience with health professionals and the manner in which the news is communicated to parents has been found to affect the resultant viewpoint of the parents as regards the implications of their child’s disability and their role in the same (Taanila 2002; Graungaard & Skov 2006). It has been found that regardless of what the condition diagnosed is, the same shock, sadness and concern about the newborn’s health overcome the parents upon communication of the information. Yet it has been observed that a display of genuine sympathy from the professional, the statement of a certain and not an unknown diagnosis.
The initial information determines to a large extent the framework in which parents would then act to service the needs of their child, the same extending to their perceived future for the child and their manner of interaction with him or her throughout the development process (Parette, Hourcade, & Brimberry 1990). Thus, the manner of communicating initial information directly affects the entire system in which the family as a unit interacts. Prior to their child’s birth parents are likely to have been exposed to professional dominance and consumerism.
Because they are ill prepared for the birth of a disabled child, they are likely to rely heavily on the advice of professionals. Inability of professionals to provide accurate information and guidance may result in parents’ awareness of consumerism to lead them to challenge professional authority. It has further been observed that upon discovery of impairments, professionals tend to withdraw from the family leading to lack of information on the side of the parents (Seligman & Darling 2007). The tendency of professionals to use medical jargon may also have the same effect as lack of information.
The inability to comprehend the nature of the diagnosis immobilizes parents from responding to their child’s situation. It must also be noted that timing is of the essence. When professionals determine the diagnosis during the prenatal period and they are able to communicate the same to the parents effectively, parents are able to gradually adapt to their situation. It is common to encounter feelings of denial from parents who receive initial information prior to birth (Seligman & Darling 2007). As the child has yet to be born, the hope that the doctors are wrong is stubbornly held by parents, particularly by mothers.
Regardless of such resoluteness however, the time that the period of pregnancy affords parents gives them more time to learn about the diagnosis. It also enables them to assess their means of coping with the situation. Thus, even prior to the birth of the child, parents are already adapting to the knowledge of the impairment. This allows for adequate emotional and physical preparation for the child’s needs which would inevitably arise upon its birth. Furthermore, early diagnosis allows for parents to relay the news to family and friends giving these same individuals the opportunity to reform their expectations as well.
Such change in perspective from the significant others of the parent’s tempers the negative stigma related with the birth of an impaired child (Seligman & Darling 2007). Finally, receipt of positive feedback from those significant others who are informed prior to the birth of the child enables parents themselves to feel less apprehensive of the impairment (Seligman & Darling 2007). What is needed then of professionals is the adequate provision of information and background regarding the diagnosed disability.
This information not only helps the parents cope but will enable them to properly communicate the situation to other persons. It is also important that professionals back up their diagnosis with several tests run on the intrauterine environment (Seligman & Darling 2007). Medical tests serve as proof to the parents of the diagnosis and aid them in moving on from a stage of denial to that of acceptance. Finally, just as positive regard for the child is important from family and friends, such positive regard is more so needed from professionals.