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Posted Aug 25 2008 6:48pm
Living in Italy and approaching Jordan's deafness using the oral approach, we have had extremely limited contact with the Italian Deaf Community. Jamie Berke's strong moderate voice was the first person I found whose blog (please blog more) touched me and led me to begin investigating the American Deaf Community. When taking a closer look at the Deaf Community, I found a powerful sense of community and identity, which is unfortunately highly exclusive and riddled with fear. There are too many judgemental voices unwilling to take a liberal stance in regard to the cochlear implant and hearing parents. These radical voices are overpowering those moderate voices, at least in respect to many hearing parents whose deaf children will not need to become part of the Deaf Community. I posted one of Geo's videos a while back about how he ran into a parent and a child with a ci, and I liked him. (I also liked the Harry Potter jelly beans video - hysterical and the hat thing works for him!)

Anyway, there is no need to feel a sort of false empathy for our kids, because they are not missing out on anything and will have every opportunity in the future to find whatever it may be that they will need when that time comes. The Cochlear Implant Community is growing, just to give an example - the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle led by one amazing mom together with the Gift of Hearing Foundation , has created a PARENT TO PARENT: COCHLEAR IMPLANTS FOR KIDS BROCHURE and the demand has been both overwhelming and gratifying to all members of the Circle who put a helluva lot of love and heart in creating the brochure. Hearing and Deaf parents alike need to have access to a growing CI Community that does not judge any person regarding communication methods. We will create our own community whether or not the Deaf Community wishes to partake, but just think how powerful a collective voice could be in educating others regarding DEAFNESS...we are in the year 2008.

Paula Rosenthal has created a community for deaf teenage youth. She said:

There are so many things wrong with the comments you quoted from Rita's Expressive Blog that it would take me hours to respond. In particular I am outraged at the assumption that because we don't choose to teach our kids ASL it means we don't love them! Ludicrous!

This one got me too: "In short, sometimes parents don’t realize they neglect their children by depriving them to full access to communication." Hmm... but teaching them oral language IS full access to communication. We're not neglecting our kids, we're allowing them the freedom to choose to be part of the world at large, the hearing world. If we only teach them ASL they are going to have limited options if they want to become members of the hearing world. Communication with the larger world of people with normal hearing is going to be tough. Not so the other way around. If we teach them to listen and speak and they or we decide to learn and use ASL afterwards, then they have a choice and can go back and forth between the two cultures.

My sincere feeling though is that it is up to the families to make these choices. One choice is not the right one for everyone. Oral language worked for us when both hard of hearing parents were oral and we had a hard of hearing child. No one should criticize me for my choice. I'm her parent, not the collective Deaf community.

Parents need to make difficult choices when they have children with hearing loss. It is up to them to do their own research about communication choices and cochlear implantation. They don't need people (on either side) to say, "This is what you should do."

Abbie said

Jodi, I swear, again and again you continue to amaze me :) You hit the nail right on the head in EVERY single subject, pure diversity of deafness and you nailed it.

While it took me a very long time to accept being deaf, it wasn't my parents that neglected my access to communication, it was the educational system. I lost interest in signing since I was scoring 100% and picking up the English language quite nicely. The school felt what do I need signing for? On top of that, they felt signing class consisted of learning the ABC's. Looking back at that now, I see the error in the schools ways. With my parents trying to teach me sign at home and the school system telling me I don't need it, that isn't equal opportunity.

No wonder it took me so damn long to say "I'm deaf." My personal belief now is that if a child is deaf or HOH or whatever other acronyms they have for us, is in a mainstream school push sign language as much as possible. Technology fails and its those kind of failures that high school doesn't prepare you for.

And Val , Gage's mom, parent volunteer and co-owner of the yahoo support group learn2hear , which provides parents with a variety of helpful resources, powered in with this biggie:

Listen, we love our kids, in fact we adore our children like most parents do. I don't see why my kids need to learn a second language at such a young age when they have no one to use it with. We know absolutely no other deaf people and no one signs. I mean, they don't need it to talk to us since they can speak. I did teach my first born (deaf)child signs as a baby/toddler, he was receptive but never expressive. He still to this day does not want to learn sign. He has no interest in it. It's been offered several times, and I actually wanted him to learn some now that he's six, at the top of his class and for the most part on a eight year old level in his language and other areas as well!(as per several, several tests by a local Children's Hosp). He still knows what I taught him as a child but has never, other than I love You, signed anything. I don't think searching out and moving where there is a Deaf community is right either, for us. These days kids are getting full access to communication, despite what some want to believe. For my son to sit in a reg. classroom and still bring home 100's and A's consistently, lets me know he's getting full access. When he's happy after school because he and his buddies crawled around like cats during recess, that's heart warming. People need to realize that these kids now, are being brought up by powerful people. We've learned from parents before us and we are teaching parents new to this. Information is powerful. Learning what to do with it, can be evolutionary. And to see my kids teaching other kids about what it's like to wear equipment to hear, spreading information about how some deaf kids can hear and talk is changing our community. To be able to go to the library now and check out a book they can relate to where a kid has an implant and speaks like they do instead of all of the deaf characters singing only, is amazing. We couldn't do that a few months ago. That's thanks to a powerful mom who saw a need and met that need, not only for her child, but for mine and thousands more children. It's amazing to me to see babies that can sign, hearing or not. I wanted that for my kids and it didn't happen. However, we adapted and we moved forward and I realize it just wasn't meant to be. I would have gladly picked up and moved if I had to, to find a proper Deaf Community for my children if they never progressed verbally, so they could be exposed to sign other than just at home. There is one about two hours from here at a Deaf and Blind School which my kids were a part of for three years during their early intervention. We've investigated sign, believe me, and I personally find it interesting. I enjoy hearing how the different signs came about. How many of those opposed to being verbal have investigated AVT-auditory verbal therapy? I know of a couple of college kids who sign only, they were not too happy w/those parents who didn't teach their kids sign. However, when they met with two AVTs, had one-on-one time with them, they got the big picture. They were completely okay with it. I even watched one girl do her "speech" as the interpreter translated, she said she was completely okay now that she understands that advancing language is the focus. I personally don't need other people to be okay with my choices, as I am absolutely, 100% confident, that my kids are okay, they're loved, they're getting full access to communication, they're progressing and happy, and my son just wants to build monster trucks when gets older and my daughter(4) just wants to be a mother. I also saw a family (signing only) writing notes back and forth to a lady who had a kid w/an implant at our audiologist's clinic. Finally the interpreter came in and they were all communicating with ease now and the Daddy who signs was telling the lady that he believed that HER child should've been taught to sign and she of course said that the parents make the decisions on what language is used (Spanish,Sign,Spoken English.,etc) and he simply smiled and agreed with her and followed up with he just wanted the same respect in return. She told him that she fully respected them and not once questioned HIS choice and they both smiled as they walked to their appointments, not sure how they felt leaving the conversations.

p.s. as for the kids'future if devices fail and they can't be replaced...we would have to move anyway, no one in this area signs so I image they'd pick up sign quickly and still use their lip reading when needed, they happen to be very good even though they can't fully rely on that for sure. I like to look at the big picture but I try to live in the moment and enjoy my kids as you never know what could happen. Kids are taught different languages in school these days anyway so I am fully confident that we can cross any bridge that lay before us. Just my thoughts.


keep them coming! we fist-smack you (as said in ASL meaning that we just love you).

Whoa! My first fist-smack...beyond an emotional experience.

(Not to worry, I'm sure I'll calm down soon...kind of living a strange period right now.)
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