My Deaf child is not a tragedy.
As Ez has gotten older and more communicative, my decision not to tell strangers that my child is Deaf doesn’t really work. When he was little, I always let the little old church lady, the waitress or that nice neighbor down the street go all goo goo and gah gah all over him without saying a word about his Deafness.
Once you let that cat out of the bag, there are too many questions. Too many well intended yet offensive comments. Too many annoying looks of pity. However, now that he is older and we sign constantly it is much harder to avoid the stares. Since, he has a vast ASL vocabulary, “hiding” his Deafness is virtually impossible. Of course, most people think that we are just “using baby sign with him.” So when they ask, I graciously have to explain that he can’t hear and that ASL is his primary language.
Which is always followed by shocked and sad expressions of sympathy. Awkward comments about someone’s cousin who wears a hearing aid. Or worse, the dreaded, I learned fingerspelling once in girl scout camp and always wished I could sign. Which is all fine and dandy, except the fact what the person is really just trying to cover up is their own unnecessary discomfort.
Because being Deaf is absolutely not a tragedy.
Deafness is not a devastating diagnosis. It is not a debilitating disease. My child is not sick. He is not going to die from being Deaf.
When you view Deafness as a tragedy, you are discounting all of the parents that have truly sick children. Children who’s lives will be limited by the breadth of their disabilities or worse yet, who’s lives will be shortened by their diagnosis. Parents who would give anything to have their child just “be deaf.”
My Deaf child has just as much potential as your child that can hear. He can become a teacher, lawyer, computer technician or an actor. He can be the first Deaf professional soccer player. He can enjoy hobbies and have a beautiful family. He will grow up as normal as normal can be.
The only real challenge he will face is the ignorance, discrimination and oppression from those who see him as broken.
Because he’s not.
He is absolutely perfectly imperfect.
Just like the rest of us.