Original Research

Influence of hearing loss on sibling relationships: Perspectives of the normal hearing sibling

Suvishka Barath, Senamile N. Hlongwane, Marylene Madlala, Sinawo L. Mzanywa, Jessica Paken
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 70, No 1 | a939 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v70i1.939 | © 2023 Suvishka Barath, Senamile N. Hlongwane, Marylene Madlala, Sinawo L. Mzanywa, Jessica Paken | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 June 2022 | Published: 13 October 2023

About the author(s)

Suvishka Barath, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Senamile N. Hlongwane, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Marylene Madlala, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Sinawo L. Mzanywa, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Jessica Paken, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Sibling relationships, one of the most extended relationships in life, contribute to an individual’s social and emotional development. However, this relationship may be influenced if one sibling has a hearing loss.

Objectives: This study explored the influence of a hearing loss on the sibling relationship by gaining the perspectives of the sibling with normal hearing.

Method: Adopting a phenomenological research design, semi-structured online interviews were conducted using Zoom and WhatsApp with nine participants who have siblings with hearing loss.

Results: Hearing loss may significantly impact the normal hearing sibling’s quality of life, affecting their psychological and social well-being, familial and peer relationships and overall experiences. Personal development, independence, maturity and closer sibling bonds were some of the positive influences reported by the participants. Attendance to aural rehabilitation therapy sessions, knowledge of hearing loss, personalities and household living arrangements positively influenced the relationship between siblings. The lack of attendance to aural rehabilitation sessions resulted in communication difficulties between siblings.

Conclusion: There is a need to include siblings in aural rehabilitation and family engagements related to the child with hearing loss to provide a holistic and more effective rehabilitation and adjustment process.

Contribution: This study aimed to improve family-centred intervention as it is focussing on the siblings’ perspectives of the hearing loss. Furthermore, previous studies have generally focussed on adults and not much research has been conducted surrounding the sibling relationship.


Keywords

siblings; hearing loss; aural rehabilitation; communication; family; relationship; South Africa

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