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Negotiating deaf–hearing friendships: coping strategies of deaf boys and girls in mainstream schools


Daniela Martin, Social-Personality Psychology, City University of New York Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA


Background  Increasingly, deaf students are educated in mainstream school environments. This poses a question of how deaf children negotiate the demands of forming friendships with their hearing peers. The present study was designed to examine coping strategies of 35 deaf children attending full or partial mainstream school settings.

Method  Using a qualitative analysis design, a range of coping strategies used by the children was described based on parents’ reports. The relative success of these coping strategies in establishing relationships with hearing peers was assessed by examining strategies that increased the social success of deaf girls and boys.

Results  The results showed differences by gender in the effectiveness of coping strategies used by the participants. Deaf girls who were confident and frequently asked for clarifications or who were comfortable playing alone tended to achieve good relationships with hearing peers. In contrast, deaf boys’ relationships with hearing peers benefited mostly from the boys’ ability to perform well in sports.

Conclusions  These findings are discussed in light of existing research on coping and current debates on the benefits of mainstreaming for deaf children.