During the process of implantation, parents may have rather heterogeneous expectations and concerns about their child's development and the functioning of habilitation and education services. Their views on habilitation and education are important for building family-centred practices.
We explored the perceptions of parents and speech and language therapists (SLTs) on the effects of implantation on the child and the family and on the quality of services provided. Their views were also compared.
Parents and SLTs of 18 children filled out questionnaires containing open- and closed-ended questions at 6 months and annually 1-5 years after activation of the implant. Their responses were analysed mainly using data-based inductive content analysis.
Positive experiences outnumbered negative ones in the responses of both the parents and the SLTs surveyed. The parents were particularly satisfied with the improvement in communication and expanded social life in the family. These were the most prevalent themes also raised by the SLTs. The parents were also satisfied with the organization and content of habilitation. Most of the negative experiences were related to arrangement of hospital visits and the usability and maintenance of speech processor technology. Some children did not receive enough speech and language therapy, and some of the parents were dissatisfied with educational services. The habilitation process had generally required parental efforts at an expected level. However, parents with a child with at least one concomitant problem experienced habilitation as more stressful than did other parents.
Parents and SLTs had more positive than negative experiences with implantation. As the usability and maintenance of speech processor technology were often compromised, we urge implant centres to ensure sufficient personnel for technical maintenance. It is also important to promote services by providing enough information and parental support.