Self-esteem, family climate, and communication patterns in relation to deafness

American Annals of the Deaf
D D Desselle


The purpose of the study presented in this article was to determine the effect that family communication patterns have on the self-esteem of deaf children. Deaf students at a southern residential school, ranging in age from 13 to 19, were administered the Modified Self-Esteem Inventory (MSEI) and the Subject Communication Questionnaire. The subjects' parents answered 10 questions about their communication patterns with their deaf child. The parents were not deaf themselves. Analysis of the data revealed that there is a positive relationship between the family's communication method and the deaf child's self-esteem such that parents who use total communication (speech, fingerspelling, and sign) have children whose self-esteem scores are higher than those of children whose parents use an oral-only method of communication (speech). The parents who were best able to communicate by using sign language had children whose self-esteem scores were higher than those of children whose parents were less skilled in sign language. Also, a positive relationship was found between student self-esteem and reading level.


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