Shortly after Nyle Demarco won the coveted mirror ball a NY Times post entitled Parents of Deaf Children, Stuck in the Middle of an Argument began making the rounds on Facebook. There was a beautiful picture of Nyle DiMarco and Peta as click bait for the reader but it wasn’t an article applauding Nyle’s accomplishment, no, it was another article bemoaning the fact that an unaided, unimplanted individual is finding successes and in turn perpetuating the great divide between parents who choose sign language and parents who do not.
Even though I knew what to expect, I couldn’t resist the temptation to read the story and while I normally shy away from the comments, I read all of those too. Then I spent the next several hours frustrated and angry. As a parent of a Deaf child, one that is “culturally” deaf, who’s primary language is ASL, I too am exhausted by the arguing. I am tired of listening to “educated” hearing people tell me the how and why my child will “never be successful,” and how I am depriving him of a normal life because I am choosing to accept his deafness instead of fight it or try to change it. Trust me, it is just as draining to be on THIS side of the argument.
As a parent, when I read these personal news posts and the related comments, one of the most frustrating factors is that every single article always emphasizes this statistic: “90% of Deaf Children are born to hearing parents “(**although the number is probably a bit higher as this “statistic” is from the 1970’s). Then the writer will conclude based on this sole fact that it only makes sense that these children learn to speak and function in what they view as “normal” society. Then like in every other article, the writer will eventually mention how the deaf/Deaf community always vilifies hearing parents for not choosing sign language.
Only don’t you see how blatantly flawed this argument is?
If 90%(+) of deaf children are born to hearing parents, then who exactly is the Deaf community? Should we be so naïve to believe that ONLY the 7-10% of Deaf children being raised by Deaf parents create the single resounding voice that cries out to parents of deaf children to also include ASL and Deaf Culture in their children’s lives?
I would like to suggest that maybe, just maybe these “deaf” people who are constantly being accused of creating the BIG DIVIDE are part of THE 90% raised by hearing families, who felt deprived, isolated, lonely. Who’s siblings rarely made the effort to include them and who’s father never once tried to find a way to communicate with them. Did you ever think that those individuals who fight so hard for the rights of Deaf children are fighting because they were once THE 90%.
And, if an oral only approach is so successful, where are all these people? Why are they not speaking up to tell us how happy they are? Preaching about how great their life is without sign language? Yes, I know there are a few outspoken individuals but if this method of communication is so successful, shouldn’t their voices be just as strong or even stronger than the d/Deaf Community that is so often blasted in the media?
And just to clarify, I am not talking about the 16 year old who would do or say anything to please their parents and I am definitely not talking about the parent who wants to tell me how successful and thriving their child is thanks to their choice to not use sign language.
I am talking about oral deaf people that are now independent, functioning members of society. Who now have their own opinions and make their own choices. Who are thriving without sign in their communities.
I am talking about the real deaf people, pre-lingually deaf, raised in hearing only environment who are happy and content with their lack of sign language. Individuals that do not struggle with identity issues, who marry hearing partners, who don’t need any “extra” help while in college or at work. Those who are comfortable in group settings, those who can hear easily on the phone and that other people can understand?
Where are they?
With millions of deaf people falling in the 90% category, why don’t we see them out and about in our communities? Why don’t we interact with them in our daily lives more often? Why are they not our children’s teachers in a regular public classroom or a manager at a local restaurant? Why are they not our favorite soccer coach, dental hygienist or hair stylist?
Where are the 90% of deaf children born to hearing parents that don’t want or who have never needed sign language or Deaf culture?
Let’s just think about that for a minute. How many non signing, oral only deaf people do you interact with in your every day life?
Does anyone see the flawed argument here? Can we just humor ourselves a bit and maybe assume that the d/Deaf community that feels so strongly about children having access to ASL and Deaf Culture are part of the 90%? Maybe not all of them. I am sure there are some who were raised oral and enjoy that life, having no need for other deaf people, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that shows a large number of young adults leave their oral only homes and desperately seek sign language and the Deaf community.
During the #WhyISign campaign, video after video of deaf adults shared heartbreaking stories of loneliness and isolation and each and every story ended the same, with that single moment when they found sign language for the very fist time. Why do we as parents of deaf children let doctors, audiologists and speech therapists, many who have never actually interacted with a real deaf person, tell us what is best for our child, yet we blatantly ignore and even silence the voices of the those who know first hand what it is like to live fully between both worlds?
If we just took time to learn WHY those horrible, “parent choice” stealing, “Deaf Culture” people are so passionate about our deaf children, might we actually learn that they are simply speaking out of their own loss and pain? Might we be able to see past the fear and worry perpetuated by the medical community and embrace both cultures for our children? Might we learn that it is not one or the other? But both.
Now before you tar and feather me, please know that I am absolutely not against anyone’s choice for their child. I understand the difficult road that you are walking. I understand the crazy amount of information and decisions you are forced to make. I truly do. I am just asking for you to take a minute and consider who makes up the Deaf community and why they are so passionate about your child.
Because maybe, just maybe your child reminds them of themselves.
I have had the joy and the frustration of writing on topics of deafness for the past 3 years so let me predict some of the comments I will receive…
- Technology is better than it has ever been so we as parents are depriving our child a normal life by not choosing implants. Part of this is very true. Technology, specifically cochlear implants have made amazing improvements over the past decade but they don’t work for every child and there are still limits in how they function. Children with CI’s have to work exceptionally hard to “learn” to hear. Young adults with upgraded CI’s report difficulty hearing in group settings, through the phone and when they can not see a person’s face. Also, not every child qualifies or benefits for these devices. ASL should not be offered to parents only when their child FAILS at being hearing with their implants or hearing aids.
- You are brainwashed. One of “them.” This was actually a real comment on another post of mine. I am proud to be married to a Deaf man, raising a deaf child. Long before I met him or gave birth, I was an advocate for deaf children. Until you have sat in the room and interpreted for a 12 year old to a non-signing parent that they had been being sexually abused by a sibling, you don’t get to tell me that I am brainwashed. I have seen the worst of the failed oral kids. It is not pretty.
- My child doesn’t need sign language. True. Your child probably doesn’t. Because you have the extensive means and financial abilities to provide your middle or upper class child with an abundance of speech therapy and interventions. However, the reality is that there is a ridiculous number of deaf children, born to hearing parents that can not regularly access the services necessary to truly remove the need for sign language. Every year deaf children are still coming into pre-k programs with ZERO language. So instead of making this fight about your choice, why don’t you become a vocal proponent that no deaf child suffers from language deprivation.
Comments on all my blog posts are always open and answered. I have a deep respect for communication and exchanges of thoughts and ideas. We can only learn from each other. If you choose to comment, please do so respectfully and kindly. I reserve the right to remove comments that belittle or bully individuals on either side of an argument and will do so without apology.
** In a 2002 Gallaudet University research study, they concluded that the actual number is around 93-95%.
I can’t say I know what its like to raise a Deaf or hard of hearing child. I’ve just taken a few ASL courses, and have had occasions to interact with those in the Deaf community. I had a relative that taught voicing and ASL to her students. Voicing is for us those who hear, not for them. She said at some point they’ll encounter a need to, and if they are able they should learn. Not all that are Deaf can learn to voice, but always ASL first. That is their language. She insisted family learn too. I can’t imagine the rejection when your own parent refuses to learn your language. Lonely wouldn’t even begin to cover it. I have my own opinion of implants. I don’t view being deaf as being “broken” so “fixing” hearing isn’t really something I think has to happen. Also, I don’t know that the risks, and a little research showed quite a few, worth the possible benefit of the implants. I wouldn’t make the decision for someone else though. I still don’t know enough ASL to easily carry on a conversation, but I know enough that communication can happen- awkwardly and slowly. And my daughter and I have learned a couple fun things too, like the game Elephant, which I in turn taught to a group of hearing kids whom loved it!, and the King Kong story- that we are overly entertained by! I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to be fluent, but I really think if more hearing people, just learned a little bit about this beautiful rich, language and culture they’d realize that maybe we’re the ones “missing out” on something and not so much the the other way around. Blessings!
Many people assume that I am against implants because we didn’t choose them for Ezra. Absolutely not the case. I have seen first hand amazing successful kids with implants and applaud their parents for all he work they put into creating that environment. I have strong feelings about the *new* brain-stem implants but that is another story for another time.
Every person who even learns a little sign is always a blessing to Ezra and our family. I am glad that you enjoy it. And I totally forgot about the Elephant game. I wonder if kids in deaf schools play it still. I don’t think I have seen it done in ages.
laura clarke says
what is the elephant game. would love to know to teach poppy my daughter who is profoundly deaf and uses bsl and lip reading and her voices as much as able to communicate. she does have implants which give her access to speech but only limited. we have had to move county to ensure she is schooled in her first language and it has not been an easy move at all. i wish every hearing person in the world would learn the sign language for their area and embrace their deaf as part of their community not as some one on the outside to be shunned and derided. my daughter is funny intelligent beautiful loves to communicate caring sharing very talented swimmer horse rider and quirky but most people only see her as deaf. i wish this were not the case with all my heart
Melonie Smith says
Very well written. I don’t have a deaf child, however, I am passionate about children with differences and our society’s desire to make everyone communicate in the “normal” and “typical” way…and the misnomer that the closer a child is to “typical” the happier and more successful they wil be. This would also ring true for parents of nonverbal children that choose to use assistive communication devices (in the autism community) over solely demanding that they attempt expressing themselves verbally. I love learning through your posts, thank you.
Thank you and I learn so much from your experiences as well. You opened my eyes to the whole neurotypical perspective and I agree that it can also be applied to deaf children. With the rise of deaf & autistic children, I think that increasing the use of ASL for them can only benefit them in the future.
miss kat's mom says
I know hundreds of such people and I would invite you to AG Bell in Denver next week to meet them. I have 3 just in my Masters degree program and know at least 5 more who work in oral schools in the St. Louis area and another 5 or 6 who have deaf implanted children as well. You aren’t looking in the right places.
Ron Lake says
I’m curious, how many of these people retreat to social events in the deaf community?
Miss Kat's Mom says
Of course, it depends on the person. The people in my Masters program (who are learning to be listening and spoken language teachers of the deaf) do not sign. Some at AG Bell do, some don’t. The deaf parents of children who are being raised with spoken language and CIs do, but their children don’t. The teachers at the oral schools do, but they advocate for spoken language and CIs for children.
Miss Kat’s Mom recently posted…Full Circle
miss kat's mom says
Oh, and as a parent of a child with two CIs, it is obscenely offensive that you think that because my child uses spoken language that I do not accept her deafness and that I am trying to change her. My daughter is 13, so I am a lot further down this road than you are and that is a nasty thing to say to a person.
Thank you for sharing on my page. 13 years is definitely a long time to be parenting in the field. As a professional in the field for more than 20 years, I have seen a wide range of communication users and developed great relationships with a whole variety of deaf/Deaf individuals. When I write on here, I am not only writing from my experience as a parent but also from my 20+ years of professional work as a teacher, interpreter, MH communication specialist.
Jennifer Pfau says
Thank you! Beautiful article! I am a parent who happens to be deaf from oral education and I finally found myself by using sign language. I was deprived of a true identity. There is nothing wrong being deaf after all these years of low self esteem believing there was something wrong with me after hours and hours with audiologists and speech therapists. Again thank you for the beautiful article.
Thank you for sharing. I am so happy to hear that you have found a place in the deaf community.
I think you wrote an excellent blog. I have been teaching deaf children for 25 years. My second son was born deaf 16 years ago. He was diagnosed at 5 weeks of age with an ABR. He had an ABR because he was a preemie and was being discharged from the hospital. We signed with him immediately. He was implanted at 17 months of age and got his second one at 4 1/2 years of age. We didn’t stop signing until he stopped signing. However, I still sign to him when his processors are off and he voices back to me. Sign language was such a bridge for him and still is when he is a distance from me and I need to tell him something.
I wish more of the parents of my students would sign. Whether they choose sign or oralism (CI or hearing aid) it is work. Parents need to be committed to their child. Language acquisition is so important. My son also has Tourette Syndrome, OCD and ADHD. These other disabilities have hindered him more than his hearing loss. However, it took us a LONG time to figure out the tourette syndrome, OCD and ADHD.
Thanks for the great blog.
Thank you for sharing your story. That language gap is so important to address while pursing whatever avenue a parent chooses for their child.
One flawless argument here, 99% Spanish speaking parents had children grown up speaking Spanish only then by the time they enrolled at Pre-K, what happen to their acquisition of bilingual skill in English? They flourish and greatly achieve within academic standards and social life. Its true. They had their neural language already developed at birth. So should go the same for all Deaf babies to have their neural language of ASL developed. Its simple basic necessity and simple common sense.
Yes, wouldn’t it be great if hearing families had easy access to sign language as early as we have identification now?
Miss Kat's Mom says
The problem is that parents aren’t fluent at the start. By advocating for ASL as a first language, you are advocating that parents use a language they do not know to build language in their child. How do you immerse a child in a language you only know a few words of? Words are not language. Children need access to a full and fluent language model, right from the start, and parents of deaf children cannot provide that in ASL, but they can in their native language.
Hi Miss Kat’s Mom,
Ok. What would you do if a child doesn’t get success from having a CI? It’s more likely that this child is already language delayed due to no early exposure to sign language. What I don’t get is that hearing children are encouraged to learn sign language for the benefits while it’s often hard for deaf children to learn. As an educator, I truly respect all decisions of parents as they know what they think is the best, but I am struggling to understand why some parents choose not to learn sign language while choosing the CI route. I know some deaf children who are CI users – they have full access to ASL and they are truly happy. Since it takes a lot of a deaf child to learn your language, why don’t you do him or her a favor by learning ASL in return? I know that some don’t want to be in the deaf community at all but giving deaf children a chance of learning ASL will never be a loss. It’s a bonus. And what I am most bothered is that some hearing parents can’t afford the costs of speech therapy if they decide to do a CI while I wish all families get what they would need – with a guarantee of available services. All in all, ASL is a beautiful language that never hurts the spoken language. M
Crimson Wife says
Parents have limited time and energy. I choose to spend it learning how to facilitate the development of my child’s native language (spoken English) rather than on trying to learn a niche language that is becoming less and less used as technology has been such a game-changer. My child will study ASL as her 2nd language when she’s older as it will be the most accessible option. But while she’s young, our priority is spoken English.
Nikki Kepoo says
Crimson Wife I am very heartbroken by your response because I’m not sure you see the issue here. The article that was written by whomever and even your comment suggests that ASL is a dying language. Do you realize that it should be an option for both? There was no mention of “scaremongering” anyone. My heart breaks for children who have parents assume that just spoken is the only allowed option. Statistics today show that a child’s development occurs from 0-3 yet no one addresses the fact that technology isn’t the solution, it is a bandaid. Today (not in the 80s) it is still not recommended to keep the device attached 24/7. Additionally, today, the success is not 100% for all implanted children. Why would you make the assumption that this is a scare article when you don’t research the NOW information. I am very very happy that your child was implanted and extremely supportive of your decisions for YOUR child, but if you research successfully implanted deafies (as she mentioned) many wish they did have the option to know ASL. Yes, your child can learn later, however, I read (and I wish I could share his message) but an adult of successful CI just one day couldn’t hear in a public setting. The device broke and he became anxious and scared because he had nothing to fall back on as any other option. My point is WHY NOT LEARN BOTH??? it’s not hard and, no disrespect, but I feel parents who don’t learn it are simply lazy.
Please learn a new language in less than a year and get back to me on how that went for you. Unless you move to France or something, I doubt you would feel confident that you could give cultural nuances, full syntax accurate sentences to your child and successfully and fluently read to baby on your lap translating from your native language into the one you just learned as that childs first and primary teacher. To say “why don’t parents just learn it” disrespects ASL as a full language and implies it is easy to learn easy to teach, etc. Now please do the exercise above without a fluent teacher or changing your life at all. More parents would learn if they had the supprt system to really learn. And now let’s flip it…please teach your baby 5 new words a week and those are the only words that you can actually impart to that baby. Good luck building a reading brain. My child was diagnosed at 2 weeks old and I was completely unprepared to teach her any language without hearing. I’m one of the middle class moms who has the means to do the work around teaching my baby to listen and talk and she is thriving. I know there are kids who don’t have that support. But now is the time when they would have the best chance for success with technology and early identification either way, someone is going to have to train the parents to do the aural rehab at home or to learn a new language at home. Otherwise to get this beautiful utopia where deaf babies are getting perfect bilingual access, the residential schools for the deaf are going to need to open their doors to infants.
Miss Kat's Mom says
No one encourages families of hearing children to use ASL as their child’s primary language. Facilitating spoken language through a few signs is completely different from having ASL as your first and native language. You are advocating for a family to try to give a child a first language that they do not know. What ends up happening is that the child has massively delayed language until they are sent to a Deaf school and then the family is taught signs by the child. That is not fluent language access, and it is not natural language aquisition.
Except, if your child is deaf, your native language is inaccessible to them. For them to learn any language, it must be accessible. This is why the research on using ASL, even if going the oral route, is beneficial. Because it gives them an opportunity to learn an accessible language.
It was not inaccessible, it was harder. In LSL early intervention you learn a ton of ways to change your parenting behavior to get exponentially more language imparted to the child and how to tell if they are listening and attending to voice. Simple things,like a two week old infant should be able to get much much more than you think because it is very rare to have a baby with absolutely no sound perception. It is a matter of amplifying and talking close to the ears which you do anyway and carrying the baby all the time and narrating your day within 2 feet of their hearing aids all the time, etc. I read exponentially more and sang exponentially more and therefore when some things were missed, which I’m sure they were, my next five sentences would make up for those few missed words. I did baby signs with her. I personally have zero capacity for learning new languages as an adult, but I tried. There were no free classes for ASL for me to learn in her first year. I paid for a class and took away 6 or 7 core signs and could sign some of the vocabulary in the hungry caterpillar at the end of it. For her to have access to a language I would have to have the capacity to provide it. I didn’t and she would have struggled without my attempts to push in my own fluent language. She did not get an implant until 1 year old, but through my language push with her she had 8 spoken words by then. She dropped all of her baby signs and was dancing to music within two weeks of activation. We are the lucky one because we were able to give her access to English. And there are lucky ones whose parents have the capacity to give their children fluent ASL. The ones in the middle need a lot more support that neither system of EI is providing adequately. That should be the focus. I know I sound naive and American when I say this, but let’s make sure all parents of hearing kids can impart exponential conversational language to their kids in their own language so everyone can be ready for kindergarten because they had fluent language and reading at home. Those without capacity for their hearing children would also be failing their deaf children, right? Give me a full time certified instructor so I can learn. Or, I hope we are not implying here that all deaf babies should have deaf parents or be institutionalized or adopted???
Miss Kat's Mom says
It absolutely is NOT inaccessible. That is the whole point. Deaf children today have access to all the sounds of spoken language at very soft levels. They can and do have access and acquire spoken language.
That’s a huge assumption that parents “aren’t fluent at the start”. I know many parents that are.
As parents, of any child but especially those with “disabilities”, we need to support each other in the decisions that are made and ALWAYS assume the parents have their child’s best interest in mind. As a professional in the field I didn’t fully understand this until I was blessed with a child that is deaf-blind.
Deanne Bray says
They can grow with the child and learn.
Most hearing parents who are not by chance a CODA or a TOD are not fluent. That’s most of us.
I was not fluent but it was important to me to give my son access as soon as possible so I started watching YouTube videos and met people in my community so that my son could have more access. I really dislike hearing that “parents have limited time, energy, and resources” not accusing anyone but it sure sounds selfish “it’s just too hard to learn a second language so he can just struggle to learn mine” we have unlimited internet access and videos and communities that truly will welcome you if they see that you are trying your best. My 2 year old is now bilingual and where his speech is delayed his ASL makes sure I know what he needs and wants, I hope he has both resources his whole life, cochlear implants aren’t an option for him as his loss is not sensonureal and when his HA breaks and we have to send it in for 2 weeks to get fixed I don’t have to worry about communicating with him, he has options and while yeah I’ve had to put in time and energy, in my opinion it is already paying off.
Linda Levitan says
Miss Kat’s Mom: ASL is the third most-popular foreign language being taught and learned on a high-school and college level (not too far behind Spanish), so the actual number of those know ASL is considerably larger than your estimate. Interest in ASL continues to grow as more people learn it.
Miss Kat's Mom says
There are only 1 million fluent ASL users in the US which means that only 1 in 300 people would know ASL before their child was born deaf.
The issue with your logic here is this: it’s much more difficult for the deaf child to learn how to speak and “hear” than it is for the parent(s) to learn ASL. YOUR child may be an oral success, but a few success stories still doesn’t cancel out the thousands and thousands of failures. That was the point of this article, please try to look beyond your own bubble. As a mother, I can understand why you’re feeling defensive but like Melanie said, she’s talking about the countless deaf adults and children who suffered because of a badly flawed system. Try rereading her article and not making it all about yourself.
Miss Kat 's mom says
No, actually, it isn’t. The children I work with every day are easily and naturally learning English because they have great access to spoken language. I see it every minute of the day when working with deaf students.
It is hard to teach your own deaf child to listen and talk. Those who imply that LSL parents are lazier or less brave have never shepherded a deaf child on the LSL journey. If the goal is true language equality, fluency and literacy, and a child gets that, you should not judge the parents’ choice.
My daughter is Deaf, now 18 y-o. She was not identified until 8 months. Until then I talked to her like normal. The day after she was identified I enrolled in sign classes. It is true that a hearing family who doesn’t already know sign is challenged in the beginning. But infants and toddlers will only learn one sign at a time, so learning as you go isn’t as much of a challenge as one might think. As long as the family learns faster than the child, you still come out ahead. You work your tush off to learn and model everything you possibly can. By age 3, my daughter had a better sign vocabulary than most of her hearing counterparts. So it may seem that it isn’t enough for parents to begin learning when their child is identified, but it has been successful for many families.
After having my daughter who is HH/deaf, I initially felt she needed and Had to have her BAHA’s and fought to get them bilaterally for her. She was 6.5 months when she received her first one and then 13 months for the second. I continued to watch and read about the deaf community and try to understand what life would be for her as she got older. As time went on, I realized this is who she is and sign language is the way she also needs to communicate. Instead of choosing for her, I know one day she may not choose to have her aids implanted. I knew I had to learn ASL, trach her, and as a family we needed to learn so she has both options. Not everyone understands why I continue to learn and teach her to sign but I know it’s the best choice to offer her both worlds. She goes to speech therapy and wears her BAHA’s but we also sign as we speak to her. I learned she didn’t need to be “fixed” and that I needed to understand her first language will always be signing.
Nikki Kepoo says
That’s awesome!!! Congratulations on doing both!!!
I was just sent this article because I am a mirror of you. I am a hearing mother of a deaf child who was born perfect. Everything you said was SPOT on and I am currently advocating for the rights of their education. I find myself in that battle with people who think they know everything there is to know, but they don’t. I see lies upon lies being thrown at new parents who are in an emotional state of mind and rush at those options because they are fed the idea that NOW has to occur and there is no other option for them but that. I am infuriated by the bullying of people to those parents who cannot fight back. THANK YOU for this article. Please continue to write these for those that are afraid to.
Ron Lake says
Beautifully written and backed with sensible facts. I was born and raised hard-of- hearing until age 24. Until then, I could access communication with hearing aids, have clear speech, and relied heavily on lip-reading. At 20, I worked at a Deaf and Blind camp in Malibu, where I learned sign language, the world opened up for me. Today, at 57, I sign fluently, and absolutely love American sign language. In all my years as an educator for deaf children I have seen many students and had met many adults raised in the hearing community, “cross-over” to the deaf community and adopt ASL as their language of choice.
Thank you.again, for sharing this great article!
Don G says
YOU SAID IT!
Beautifully written! I have noticed the most noises about how great their life is without sign language are hearing parents of Deaf children. We want THAT children to speak for themselves, but most of time they FINALLY speak for themselves is when they are in their teens, or young adulthood AFTER they found Deaf Community and only learn about ASL. Also those Deaf children who doesn’t know sign language are almost ALWAYS fascinated when they saw someone signing, and you could see their hunger for communicate. I came from Deaf family, so ASL was a must, but I have seen most of my friends who grew up orally, and have C.I. were not happy with their parents for taking their right to learn ASL because they felt ASL is part of who they are. It is not something they know, but part of the culture. Speaking from experience, children, especially, small children tend to be a bully when they don’t know fully how to express themselves. Again, beautifully written! *Hands Waving*
McCall Scadlock says
Thank you so much for your post! It makes me very happy to see you wanting what’s best for your son and to use ASL as a mode of communication to have a better and fulfilled relationship with each other as mother and son. I am Deaf myself and have been deprived of the ability to have that type of human connection with my family and friends who don’t know any or very much sign language at all. It’s not that I don’t love my family or friends, but I’m finding myself to be more sociable with those who are willing to learn, learning or have been advancedly experience in using sign language because I get the opportunity that I been craving for over the years of connecting with others and communicating without any complications, isolation or repetitions with those who are reliable on oral communication. I was born as a hearing child, but eventually became profoundly Deaf at about the age of 5-6. I taught myself to read lips and read facial expressions and body language to survive or understand others. My family didn’t know I was Deaf until after visiting a series of doctors who kept telling my mom I was “okay” and “normal” and that she didn’t have anything to worry about. But it wasn’t until after the last doctor we have seen, noticed that I wasn’t really following the conversations between him, my mom and me. He decided to go do one final hearing test but to my disappointment he turned off the lights and put a clipboard against his mouth and began asking me to repeat the words he was saying back to him. Sadly, I couldn’t. With this “discovery”, they were able to get a diagnosis and from then and there I was diagnosed as Profoudly Deaf. So in my right ear, I am COMPLETELY Deaf. And in my left ear I am able to function with a highly advanced technology hearing aid, but now as an adult to tell you the truth I still can’t hear everything but I can hear voices of others who are talking to me,, when I am in a bus, car or train, I can only hear everything coming from the vehicle or engine, not hearing conversations all that well with the gears and engines grinding in the background of your ear. So as to what people who are completely clueless or uneducated about how cochlear implants and hearing aids work, but I can’t hear everything. As a child, I spent numerous of countless hours doing speech therapy during school causing me to miss other subjects being taught while I am away, which caused me to sometimes become fallen behind on certain subjects or misunderstanding instructions given to me from the teachers( especially when they are completely facing the white/chalkboard and talking at the same time) this caused me to stay after hours at school and get help from teachers, staying up late at night to get homework done and finals projects completed, I don’t regret taking speech therapy at all. In fact my speech therapist was my only true friend and confidant during my educational years, until she passed away my sophomore year of high school. (At this point I quit speech therapy for good) I know in my heart that this had put a load of stress on my parents and siblings. And to answer the question of the FM System Yes, I wore an FM system, but truth be told it sucked and cracked in my ears all day long and was to be taken off only during recess and physical education hours.(Thank goodness how much I loved those hours during the school year) some teachers actually told me to keep my head up and fight for myself, some even supported my dreams and visions that I had in the past. I have been “pulled, “dumbed” down by educators telling me I might not graduate high school until I was 21. And might not make it to college. Honestly in the beginning I believed them. Until I began fighting to show that I can do it. But hey I made it through high school by graduating at 18 years old with my graduating class. I wasn’t able to identify myself as being Deaf until I was about 24 years old. And it was because I hated that I was different from everyone else around me and that I was not “normal”. I was picked on a lot growing up because of my hearing loss. But now I am 28 a senior in college majoring in Deaf Studies at Utah Valley University. I’m now proud to be able to identify myself as a Deaf individual, a member of the Deaf Community, and to be able to voice my opinion on matters that many are not knowledgeable enough about including Deafness, Deaf Culture, Opression, Audism, and American Sign Language. I am currently an advocate for a new program known as “ASL ACADEMIC VILLAGE ” at UVU and this program is for all who are either Deaf, Hard of Hearing, learning ASL, learning about Deaf Culture, are advanced in ASL, are interpreters, are involved in the Deaf Community, are parents of Deaf children, are Kids of Deaf Adults and last but not least the community at large. I support all Deaf worldwide, and Deaf entertainers such as Marlee Matlin, Sean Berdy, Katie Le Clerc, and Nyle DiMarco. It’s time for the Hearing World to know that we Deaf people exist on the same planet and are human, have feelings, and we have a true culture,
Karen Smith says
Excellent article! Thank you for putting some heavy topics “on the table”. Every child matters. Every child has a right to learn, a right to communicate, and a right to have a language that is accessible at all times. THANK YOU! -Karen Smith
Michelle Grodecki says
This story is EXACTLY mine! My son is now 7. Culturally Deaf. He’s bilingual. ASL opened a whole new world for him. The Deaf adults that mentor him and provide him with opportunities for meaningful conversation were that 90%, they were raised on oral philosophies and immediately rejected that when they reached adulthood. I’m often the vilified parent because I choose to sign to my son. I’ve had services cut off because I went against the oral philosophy but at the end of the day I wouldn’t change a thing because it’s my son who I need to answer to, not some AG Bell theorist. Thank you for sharing this posting.
I love this article. I am Deaf. I went to a deaf school pre-k and my mother went as an aide so she, too, could learn simultaneously. I was then moved to a regular mainstreamed classroom. So I the argument I am both oral and signing. My hearing aids and my speech were enough to get me through school. Without hearing aids I hear nothing whatsoever. I was also born with other problems and held constantly. I actually learned to speak through being held and talked to constantly. They didn’t realize I was deaf until I was three. Yep. The good old days before it was checked at birth. Everyone is born with the ability to learn to communicate. It is a basic survival skill that is built in. As an adult I began interpreting. As an educational Deaf interpreter I feel like I am a role model for deaf children. I have worked for 24 years in this field and have worked with all manner of children whose parents chose mainstreaming education for their child. I don’t agree with every parent but I do accept their choices. It is exactly that..their choice. As we become more aware as a community of the Deaf around us we all grow, I had a hearing student who every year would say she wanted to grow up to be an interpreter like me. One year she changed her mind and she cried when she saw me reading her essay. When I asked her why on earth she would cry she said to me, ” I’m so sorry I want to be a doctor, not an interpreter. Please dn’t be mad”. My answer. ” I don’t want you to become an interpreter. I want you to become the best You that You can be. Then with your knowledge of sign (she was a natural signer) you can help someone become a part of the world. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, hairdresser, mother. One day you will meet a deaf person who needs a friend, help finding their way around, or services that your job offers. Then
will make that person feel accepted” You will have done what I want to do…spread my love and understanding of the Deaf to one more person. From that class where I interpreted for one deaf student and taught sign language to 101 more I have nurses, a doctor, hairdressers, masseuse, mechanics, sales clerks, teachers, army, Air Force, navy soldiers, mothers and fathers who have all at some point isn’t their lives helped someone or befriended someone who was Deaf or in the case of one, birthed a deaf child who has parents who have already been introduced to the culture. One will touch many.
I found myself cheering you on through the article as if there was someone saying the same things I have been saying. My child has progressive hearing loss and was diagnosed at age 4.He is now 7 with severe to profound loss. That didn’t stop us from encouraging ASL and allowing him to be a part of the decision on when (if ever) he will receive CIs. We participate at Deaf events and he just finished a day camp with our Deaf school (he is mainstreamed). Access to ASL should be the bigger issue and not whether to teach ourselves and our children ASL. What’s wrong with learning a new language? It can be fun. There is nothing wrong with looking at someone else’s story and struggle (i.e. The Deaf Community wanting ASL access for D/HH children) to learn to not repeat those mistakes. We should be humble enough to see that if it ruffles our feathers, ask why in a meaningful way. Usually that wall that goes up is because there is a sense of fear. It’s ok to be open to other opinions…
Thank you for making me feel I am not alone in this!!!
Amber Duffy says
I have two children that were born Deaf. I immediately embraced sign language to give them access to a language. I am a hearing adult so I had to learn sign with the first one. We chose to give both children cochlear implants because we want them to experience both worlds of hearing and ASL. When they get older they get to choose what world they want to live in… or embrace both! I really enjoyed reading your article. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for your article! Yes, yes and yes. I am a teacher of the Deaf who works with children and families birth to three. I’m in the trenches of these “decisions” everyday. I’m an also in a relationship with a Deaf man raised orally, who is a proud AGbell failure. We have an adopted 16 year old Deaf son who has huge language deficits due to language deprevation. It amazing to see what ASL and living in a signing home can do for children and adults that haven’t had access to language so long. Here we are…the 90%.
Crimson Wife says
Oralism did not work well for past generations who grew up with crappy analog hearing aids and who were typically not identified until age 3+. That is tragic but their experiences are so completely different from today’s young dhh babies and children who are identified at birth, fit with powerful digital hearing aids in infancy, and implanted at 12 months or even before. The first generation of early identified and implanted kids are still in their teens to very early 20’s. And even their experience isn’t going to be as good as the ones receiving the most current technology. Your argument would’ve been true in the ’80’s but it is not true in the 21st century. Shame on you for scaremongering based on outdated information.
Unfortunately, that is not true. I work with Deaf children between 0 and 6 years old and many of them come from oral programs with no language despite having cochlear implants and spending hours and hours in speech therapy. So, this is still very real today. I don’t deny that there are probably far less oral failures due to improved technology but it doesn’t erase the fact that it does not always work for everyone. Technology does not guarantee language access and acquisition. The oral-only route is full of risks and not everyone gets to succeed. This is not a thing of the past. Don’t deny current lived experiences, realities, and truths of many Deaf and HoH children.
miss kat's mom says
I also work with deaf students in early intervention and in the preschool setting. I am not seeing what you describe at all. We have children who can’t even qualify for services by age 3 because they are completely caught up. Almost every child is mainstreamed with age appropriate language by 1st grade. In the two programs in my city, there are only 15 students above the age of 7 who are receiving services in a specialized setting. That is when we start with over 300 in early intervention.
Exactly. Well said.
Linda Levitan says
The “It’s so different nowadays” argument is a canard. That is a favorite argument among AGBell members/CI/AVT advocates, that modern CI technology renders Deaf people’s concerns moot, and our objections are thus outdated (and the Deaf community is headed for extinction anyway, so there’s no need to listen to these folks). What these oral/CI/AVT advocates never mention are the many, many complications and failures caused by CIs—medical, technical, linguistoc, academic, social, etc.. Forcing a deaf child to learn language solely through oralism and CIs is an invitation to disaster. Sure, we have a relative few shining successes—I call them the ten-percenters—but we also have a HUGE number of language-deprived deaf people, those for whom the CI has not been a biotechnological boon, those who are frustrated and angry . . . and it is not history, it’s ongoing. Deaf children, many of them, are growing up with language deprivation and delays BECA– USE of CIs and oralism. I have yet to see AGBell acknowledge these failures . . . its failures. AGBell’s stance, from what I’ve seen, is that CI/oral-auditory/AVT failures don’t exist, and if they do, they don’t want to be bothered discussing them. Well, we in the Deaf community ARE concerned about these failures, and we are not scaremongering, we’re talking about a reality, and we are taking action to address it.
You ask some very good, very valid questions. As a parent of a young adult who is now very close to independence (living away at a mainstream college, making choices about his courses, advocating for himself when necessary, earning money, playing guitar in a band, making friends, and leading his own life), I would like to offer some answers that might help you understand where someone like me could be coming from.
First off, my son isn’t able to live happily and independently *because* he uses spoken language and does not sign. Deaf children and adults can do that, as well. But what I often see from the Deaf community is the assertion that kids like mine can’t. They can, and do. Here are some answers.
I would imagine it is. All us parents who have children with various challenges live lives of fear and judgement. We’re going through the same things.
I am not sure what you mean here when you say “preclude”, but if you mean “conclude”, then I have to say, I haven’t seen articles where it says it “only makes sense” that they should want to be “normal”. I have seen articles and web sites and professional associations that assert these children *can* learn to listen and speak without sign language, if they so choose. Then it’s up to families to decide if that’s what’s important to them. It was very important to me. We have a close-knit but far-flung family with lots of traditions — including music, which is a huge part of our lives. I wanted my son to be able to participate in our family’s culture, if at all possible. When I learned that that could be possible, I decided to work towards that goal.
I have found that to be true. I find that your blog post is doing the same thing. Am I wrong?
No, of course not. The Deaf community is made up of thousands of Deaf people, the highest percentag of whom were born more than 20 years ago. It was beginning about 20 years ago that technologies such as newborn hearing screening and cochlear implants began to emerge in the mainstream, and become widely available to deaf children.
Absolutely true. And it’s why I feel understanding for the people in that community who have been so cruel to us for choosing to listen and speak. That sort of horrid childhood can turn a person into an adult who projects unspeakable pent up anger on proxies for their own parents — people like me. They think my son is going to grow up isolated, deprived, and lonely, because they did. But that’s simply not true anymore. Deaf children can, and do, in huge numbers, grow up included, immersed in their families’ cultures, and their neighborhoods and communities.
I’m sure that’s *exactly* why. Think back to the days before women were allowed to vote. Women’s suffrage was a volatile time. Women who were denied the right to vote were angry. Then the 19th amendment passed. Times changed. Imagine then, women who grew up pre-1920 telling parents of young women today that they will not be able to vote. That’s what these taunts from the Deaf community sound like to me. I look at my son and his deaf friends, and I hear that they will feel isolated and deprived throughout their lives, and it just isn’t true. It’s already not true. And then people in the Deaf community call me a liar, or in denial, or they tell me that he’ll change his mind when he’s grown up more…but those things just aren’t happening.
This is a great question, and I’m happy to clarify the confusion for you. Back in 1993, the first state in the US passed a bill to require newborn hearing screenings. Also in 1997 or so, digitally programmable hearing aids came to the market widely, and cochlear implants were approved for children 24 months and older. Then, in 2000, eligibility for cochlear implants was changed to 12 months of age by the FDA.
So, where are these deaf adults who’ve had early amplifications and interventions? The youngest of them are only around 20 years old! Average age of detection of hearing loss 20 years ago was 3 years old. By then, with no language, a child was already so delayed, it would be a vast struggle to catch up. Now, children are receiving hearing aids, implants, and auditory verbal therapy starting when they are only months old. (My friend’s son had hearing aids fit when he was 10 days old!) Some states didn’t approve universal newborn hearing screening until 2012. Those states are still seeing lots of kids who are language deprived at age 3, and those children are less likely to have the listening and speaking skills of a child who receives amplification as an infant.
We parents have been talking about the successes of our children, but people in the Deaf community often don’t believe us, because they don’t see these thousands of successful oral deaf adults. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait just a few more years.
As I said, if you don’t believe us parents, then you’ll just have to wait until these children come of age, and you will see for yourself. It’s only a few years from now that the narrative will be undeniable. It’s only a few years from now these thousands of children will have standing as adults to show the fruits of their hard work. Then how will the rhetoric change?
Go to Denver next week, to the AG Bell convention. You’ll see hundreds or thousands of children who are on the brink of being exactly those people.
There are only 500,000 D/deaf people under the age of 65 in the United States. Most of them were not born deaf, but acquired deafness post-lingually. That’s about the population of Wyoming. About half the population of Montana. There are ten times more people who have dwarfism than are D/deaf. And most people who are oral deaf — you’d never notice they were! So where are they out and about in your community? They’re right under your nose. The thousands of them are in mainstream schools, martial arts classes, horseback riding, playing guitar, and hanging out with their friends in the neighborhood. You don’t notice families like ours.
Because they’re still teenagers!
No one said that just because a child is born to hearing parents that they don’t need or want sign language. Some children are born with hearing loss that cannot be mitigated by hearing aids or cochlear implants. Some children weren’t fortunate enough to have newborn hearing screenings, and be able to develop their auditory neural pathways before they were three years old. And frankly, some families are told that they shouldn’t *expect* their children to listen and speak, so don’t bother. They are threatened, scared, cajoled by members of the Deaf community, as I was. They are told that cochlear implants are child abuse. They’re told that learning ASL should come first, and your child can get an implant later (which everyone who knows anything about language development knows is patently false). So yes, the 90% of deaf children who are born to hearing parents don’t all have the ability to listen and speak. But those who are fortunate enough to be eligible for cochlear implants, and who have parents who are committed to working with their children on listening and spoken language, can learn listening an spoken language.
Is that better or worse than parents working hard to learn ASL? Nope.
Lots! I have two in my family. I have lots of friends who are oral deaf, or who have kids are oral deaf. Just because you don’t see us doesn’t mean we’re not here.
I might ask, how many well-adjusted, successful, happy Deaf people do you see getting along in the world every day? I almost *never* see signing Deaf people where I live. Those I do see look at me or sign at me in anger when I’m with my son. (I’ve learned a few angry, nasty signs that way!)
They used to. Women have the vote now, too.
Yes, all those kids are deaf. Do they seem deprived, isolated, or lonely? And this only the few dozen kids at one year’s LOFT. There are thousands more like them all over the US. You just don’t notice them.
No good parents would let someone else tell them what to do. Good parents look at all the options available to them, get second and third opinions, read books, and make the best decisions they can with the information they have at hand. That’s why some families choose ASL and some families choose LSL.
This sounds rather disingenuous. You’re perpetuating the myth that parents of deaf children who are raised to listen and speak are lazy or uninformed. Do you really, truly think we haven’t thought about these things? Really? Your assertion that we’re in this together, and that we’re walking the same difficult road presumes that if we only knew, if we only listened, we’d change our minds. We’d know better. It’s an emotionally charged debate tactic. But this decision for families isn’t, shouldn’t be, *can’t* be based on emotion. It must be based on the family’s needs, wants, resources, and abilities. Not emotionally manipulative stories from oppressed people who did not have the opportunities that our children have. That kind of manipulation is toxic, and discredits the Deaf community even further.
I am not a parent of a Deaf child. However, I worked at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC for 30 years. I’ve heard all the arguments on every side and I guess I’m mystified that any parent wouldn’t use ANY method available to teach their child. ASL? Absolutely! It’s documented that a child will respond to hand signals much faster than oral when they’re infants. Oral? Of course. Most people will use words at the same time they sign to a baby, anyway. Implants? If they will help the child in their life, go for it. Total Communication was the goal at Gallaudet for many years. Don’t know if they’ve changed their philosophy since I’ve retired, but I do know that if I had a Deaf child or grandchild, I’d do everything possible to give that child every advantage in life. But, in the end, it’s up to the parents and the child itself as he or she grows, to decide the best method for communication. The arguments and accusations are tiresome and ultimately hurtful and detrimental. My hats are off to all parents who are doing their best to teach their Deaf child to survive in this world
Luna Lou says
To be asking where they are is proof that the spoken language method is working! They’ve assimilated into society. They aren’t walking around with signs on nor are they dependent on a culture other than their own family’s culture(s).
I am glad you stated that you respect a parent’s right to choose and I respect your choice as well. I think the dedication that you show for your sin by blogging, etc, means that no matter what he will be fine. I do think from my interactions with deaf adults who are not Deaf, that they assimilate and move on and deafness may be core for the parents while they raise them and may not be core to the kid once they are off doing their own thing. I also think that your article ignored early intervention and newborn screening practices that were implemented quite recently. We don’t have as much historical success with LSL methods as we will in the future because newborn screening is only 16 years old. The large numbers you seek are still being spoken for by parents, but I believe, if they care enough, will be out and about in greater numbers in the next decade as adults speaking for themselves. I personally know that getting a LSL adult with bilateral implants to get as much attention does not fit the media’s need to sensationalize and pull heartstrings as much. The most we get are incomplete pictures of how hard it is to choose a LSL path with all of these activation videos out there that look like instantaneous perfect hearing. Nyle is a better story.
You sound so negative. I am raising a child with deafness. She wears hearing aids and is loving life. Do I think she will go out and talk as the “face” of deaf or hard of hearing, no, but I do believe she will live life the way she chooses. Why does it have to be such a black and white issue. It’s people like you who make it an issue. Just because there are not as many outspoken oral/deaf happy people speaking up like you, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Stop being so one-sided.
Bugs on the Windshield says
Hello. You wondered where the “90% of the deaf population is” and why you have never heard from them. I am in that 90% category and I will be happy to explain a few things:
1. I have chosen to blend in with the hearing world. I have very little to zero interest in the deaf community (more on this in the next paragraph). I am not trying to be mean when I do this — I am just too busy with other things than to pay attention to the going ons in the deaf community. I understand that for the culturally “D”eaf people, the deaf community is their whole world, their front page news, their everything (well, almost). But to the rest of us, it isn’t.
2. Even when I did approach the deaf community and learned sign language — I was bullied by the big “D” people. They made fun of the way I signed. They said I was not “ASL enough.” They attacked my hearing parents for not having learned sign language. They accused my parents for (in their own terms) “denying me a language” by not learning signs, which is an incredibly absurd argument considering I am fluent in five languages (both my parents are fluent in four languages). Do you see why my interest and goodwill towards the deaf community dissipated quickly? Now the incentive for me to stay in the deaf world is gone.!
3. Whenever I hear of deaf rallies or protests, with their poorly written English displayed on posters/signs – I am embarrassed to be associated with them. I pray my hearing colleagues don’t ask me if I know any of them, or even worse, if I am anything like them. Which makes me shy away from the deaf community even more and just “disappear” into the hearing world.
Those are some of the reasons why you don’t hear from people like me very much.
Miss Kat's Mom says
I have twice linked to a page that shows CI users (many adults) telling their own stories. If you are looking for these people, why is my comment not being allowed here?
Due to restrictions with Google and my relationships with various companies, I have a very secure comment blocker on my page. My comment blocker deliberately does not allow any 3rd party links to be posted and they are immediately scrubbed as spam. I have approved you as a someone that can comment without my approval. Therefor you do not wait in line for moderation. I approve every comment by hand due to the large number of spam comments I get per day. Currently there are 316 posts in the Spam folder but 11,030 that have been quarantined. I am sure my readers are capable of doing a Google search just by using the information that you have posted multiple times.
miss kat's mom says
But you were the one asking, did you look?
WARNING, TYPING FROM PHONE: so if anything is misspelled or grammarly misplaced, Forgive me. And bare with what I want to share with you. Thank you and enjoy….
I AM HERE! I am one of the 90% that is part of the prelingually deaf population and has succeeded beyond any measure that I thought possible. Many of my former teachers didn’t believe that I could amount to anything in high school let alone graduate with a bachelor’s from Edinboro University (a hearing college) and a Master’s in Deaf Education from an intensive program at RIT in Rochester, NY. I am one of those few who have never collected SSI because of my disability, I never let my disability own me. My jobs included, working retail as customer service and cashier with little to no issues, I’ve had a few customers whom I’ve just wanted to slap but that’s normal in any retail situation. I have worked in restaurants and trained hearing people to be just as awesome as I was at my job. (Read that again, a deaf person training a hearing person to work in position at a restaurant) working restaurants is one of the top most stressful careers to deal with high stress levels and must have a high octane level of energy to perform everyday. I have never asked for credit, praise, or acknowledgement because I am deaf, only to acknowledge my skills as a working class citizen. I have worked in the human service fields servicing those with cognitive disabilities, deaf, blind, autism spectrum, down sydrome, you name it is may have worked with that population. I now work with people who suffered brain injuries until a teaching spot opens as a teacher for the deaf in my hometown. I have a natural curiosity to the human psyche and to learn about what makes them so unique. That’s why I have has so many various jobs.
My parents supported me in ways that allowed me to become the person I am today. They paid out of pocket expenses so that I could have the speech skills I do today. They paid out of pocket so that I can sign the way I do today. I have the best of both worlds. Honestly I get irate when the whole AGB and deaf culture divide happens. Because I am from both sides. And it’s difficult as a person of both cultures to choose one over the other where I fit so perfectly in both BUt not at the same time. Because that’s a NO NO. I don’t care anymore. I will be the person. Who will represent both sides at the same time. Because without either one I would never have become who I am now.
Because my parents wanted the best of everything for me and tlc submerge me in both worlds has lead me to become versatile.
I am versatile in ANY culture. My first language is spoken english, but my second language is ASL and I can flip flop between the two. I speak clearly enough that if a person never met a deaf person before I’d have to convince them that I am deaf because they’d never know it. Same thing for deaf culture. Most think I’m hearing. It’s an interesting take on my world at present.
With my level of hearing loss, I don’t not qualify for a CI, nor would I want one if I did. Simply because I can hear enough natural sound to really enjoy life without the hassle of learning new sounds again. I don’t want to wipe out what I have left just for the hope to hear until it becomes a specific sound, and to be honest I am content with that.
I date the hearing population more so often than the deaf population because most of the deaf men in my area are either gay, taken, or moved away. There for more opportunistic chance for me to date a hearing man than there are with a deaf man.
I wanted to share with you that I am one of the 90% and I am here to encourage those deaf or hearing to open their mind and hearts to both worlds and live and learn to live with both. It’s not so bad, I love it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Well said. As the daughter of 2 deaf Galluadet graduates, I grew up as a CODA in the deaf community. In my work, I meet very few “oral only” people, and meet many ASL people. The overwhelming support of the deaf community that encourages early language development and communication is absolutely essential to making deaf children successful. I have nothing against deaf children being raising in the “hearing world.” My concern is the developmental delays and the social exclusion that occurs when so many children have a difficult time mastering speech and lip reading.
I am currently a teacher of the deaf and actually head of my department. I can tell you there are parents of deaf children who are not signing and who are not taking their kids to speech therapy. There are parents who get their child implanted and then the child doesn’t wear the processor at home, they wear it only at school. There are parents who say they will sign, but only sign words and don’t learn the language. I don’t know what the answer is, but it needs to be WORKING TOGETHER and understanding that not all parents have the education to understand language acquisition OR they don’t have the finances.
There are many successful children who are excellent CI users. There are probably MORE who are not. No one focuses on the kids who are not successes.
the thing is, I work with parents all the time, and I advise them and help them make their choices. I cannot make that choice for them. I had to make these choices for my own son. I know kids can succeed with a CI but it TAKES WORK… A LOT OF WORK and money. I know kids can succeed with sign language BUT IT TAKES WORK… A LOT OF WORK. too many parents today want an easy fix and it isn’t there.
Just realize that not everyone has access to the resources that some of us have access too.
I don’t think this blog was meant to “attack” anyone. She was asking an honest question and just was curious.
Mary recently posted…Playing the Insurance Game
YOU ARE EXACTLY RIGHT!
I am one of those 90% Deaf person who was Orally raised up until I was 17 y/o. To be honest with you all, it sucked because I was so disconnected from hearing people including my family. It was a very lonely time in my life. If not for books, I would not have developed the English Language. Hours and hours and hours of speech therapy (with a hearing aid) I’m able to speak fluently. When I discovered ASL at Gallaudet College, my whole world opened up. I finally was able to connect with people, understand what emotions I and Others had, and got connected spiritually.
Being Oral raised deprived me of my emotional, mental and spiritual access. Shame on those who think they know how to raise children without ASL….I am NOT putting down LSL or CI because they do benefit deaf kids but without ASL….they are missing a huge part of growing up, including family values
Faith Stein says
I enjoyed your article. My son was H of H from birth to 5 years. Then by the grace of God his moderate hearing loss was gone. He no longer had to wear hearing aids. We did both for my son Jude, he did speech therapy and we also learned some sign language, until he made that choice for himself. He still knows some sign language, and will use it occasionally. He is now almost 11 years old. My point is I was willing to do anything for Jude, it was not even an option not to teach him sign language. We introduced him into the Def culture , which has got to be one of the nicest, accepting culture out there. The invited us to activities for Jude, it was just AWESOME! I’m all for having kids that HH and Def learn sign language, and adults for that matter. I think you are doing a disservice to your kids if you don’t let them experience the Def culture.
What a flipping brilliant rant!! Thank you for saying just about everything I have thought. I too am a mother of a beautiful Deaf boy. We chose language over speech. We all learned Australian Sign Language (let’s not go into how little support there is for that!). We are proud that he is Deaf, love his language & culture. He CHOSE to be implanted at 9. At 10 he signed eloquently, as he returned his CIs to their box, saying “these change how I feel about myself. These confuse me and make me feel anxious & shaky. Without them I’m a Deaf boy and people ask me all sorts of questions about school, sports, what books I like, movies…with them people ONLY ask me what I can hear! I am more than my ears.” So proud of him. Great blog!! Thank you! It’s validated me hugely and be encouraged, I have actually asked those same questions…where are all the many brilliantly successful deaf people without sign language?
I love your statement. They are so intrusive and while I accept why parents lean towards implants, I don’t think many people understand that it changes the way (and expectations) of people. Thanks for sharing your story!
Tina Ortega says
Exactly! When my daughter was born 12 yrs ago profoundly deaf. We took the road of trying to provide total communication. Thankfully we were gifted an oppurtunity to attend a conference for DHH. It was there that I heard the stories of Deaf adults, heartbreaking stories of isolation in their on families, forced to persue oral communication. Most if not all resented it and sadly their home lives were memories of feeling so alone so excluded! I know no parent would choose that for their child and we as parents want what we feel is best for our children but I oersonally am so thankful for the Deaf community for imparting wisdom and understanding for us as we set out on the journey to raise our precious daughter.
Our experience.. My daughter received her 1st set of hearing aides at 4 months. We saw absolutely no benifit. We had began learning sign as soon as we learned she was deaf ( not easy 12 yrs ago in a rural town) She continued to wear her aides but come to find out later she really wasn’t getting benifit and the original audiologist didn’t even have them programmed right! My husband wanted to persue a CI because he wanted her to be able to communicate with our hearing family which we knew most likely wouldn’t learn ASL and to give her every oppurtunity. I was reluctant but understood the reasoning. She was implanted at 14 months, received intensive sppech therapy and after 4 years only said “mom” and “op” for stop. My daughter had several ear infections and her mastoid bone cleaned out 3 times. The CI blew out her implant and had to be removed! She was 5 yrs old at the time and I can tell you I was relieved! I kept thinking it is ok, she has ASL! If we had not taken that approach she would have been 5 almost 6 with no language! Hearing aides and CI’s don’t work for everyone and it is ALOT if work for these kids! Thank you for sharing!
Sheri Howard says
My daughter was overdosed with medication when she was ten days old and this caused her to be profoundly deaf. I didn’t realize she could not hear until she was 9 months old. I decided at that time I would give her everything she could possibly need to be successful in her life. She was fitted with hearing aids and began learning sign language. I chose SEE sign for her because I thought it might help her learn to read and write easier. She had interpreters in school from kindergarten on up. She spent ages 3-5 in the oral program at the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind. As she transitioned into high school she also transitioned into ASL. She chose at age 11 to receive her first cochlear implant and at age 14 to receive her second cochlear implant. She spent her middle school years at a charter school where she had the opportunity to go to Taiwan as a foreign exchange student. She graduated from public high school with a 3.98 gpa and several scholarships. She is now at a university. She speaks English and Mandarin Chinese as well as being fluent in ASL. She has been successful in many ways. I will always be grateful I gave her everything I thought she could possibly need and she chose what was helpful to her. She interacts equally well with the Deaf community as well as the hearing world. She thanks me often for giving her the opportunities to be in both worlds.
That is amazing! I wish I could take her to China with us. We could use a good translator. I can imagine how much work learning Mandarin must be through the CI’s. She sounds remarkable!
Hello Melanie, thanks for posting this experience. I would personally like to give you a huge appreciation in doing this most wonderful thing in the entire world.