Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WordFUL Wednesday

This was going to be a Wordless Wednesday because I have 5,673 things going on in my mind, but not really wanting to sit down and hash them all out. Then I saw this post responding to a letter that was written to Pepsico from the AGBell association. I was annoyed. Then I started to get really mad. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. I thought, boy, I have something to write about now!! But, because it's just what I do, I had to let it all mill around in my head for awhile. I went to the gym to pound it out. As I am riding the bike listening to a soaring soprano thinking there are never any good solos for us altos, I began wondering what about all of this hullabaloo has gotten me so upset. This isn't my fight. I'm not Deaf, deaf, or Hard of Hearing. My children and family are hearing. I started to realize that what infuriates me is the injustice of it all. The oral/manual debate among the deaf community has been raging since 1868, or maybe forever. My little mind can't even begin to speak to it, but of course, I have an opinion. Meanwhile, O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion~Contralto Aria came on my iPod and I thought~ah yes, a beautiful alto solo...But back to my rambling...
I have worked with children who, because they have a cochlear implant, there is NO sign language allowed. I worked for months (yes, I'm probably exaggerating a little to make my point) to teach this first grader the concept of big and little. We walked around finding things that were big and then another day finding things that were little. One day, he drew a big giraffe on the board and a little giraffe on the board. He had it! What a glorious day! All of that is fine....except that this child, 7 or 8 years old, didn't have any language. There is an important distinction between speech and language. It reminds me of the scene in Mr. Holland's Opus when the boy and the mom are in the kitchen and he's crying and pointing because she doesn't know what he wants and when the dad comes in the mom says "I just want to be able to talk to my son!" (I'm sobbing by this point)
There is no right answer, there are many communication methodologies out there and they all have pros and cons. But this is a very devisive debate. People on one side generally choose not to see the points of people on the other and innocent children get caught in the middle. OK, well, what I'd really like to say is that the people on the oral end of the spectrum usually chose not to see the redeeming qualities of total communciation or bi/bi. And so I said it. I'm sure I'll hear from someone about that.
I feel like doctors sometimes just implant kids and leave the parents to hear from someone else this is not going to magically make their child a speaking/listening child. It takes years of Auditory Verbal training to be successful, and it doesn't always work. The most successful little girl I ever met with an implant was 5. She was in a mainstream Kindergarten class with no assistance, but her mom said "When her implant is off or broken, she is still a deaf child." They used sign language before the implant and for a little while after it was turned on. The child functioned beautifully, but parents were realistic.
My heart went out to the guy in the post referenced earlier. He'd probably want to choke me if he knew that. He had a hard time, by his own admission, growing up Deaf. He doesn't want his child (if the child is or becomes deaf) to grow up in this world with the way people think.
I guess it would be too much to ask that we just all get along, huh?


One Scrappy Gal said...

I have always been told that I would be a great candidate for the cochlear implant. I was born hearing, becamse hard of hearing, and I'm now legally deaf. I learned to speak Spanish first, then english and sign at about 5 years old when they discovered my hearing loss. I'm an adult now and communicate by both speaking (because I don't want to lose that ability... which would be easy to do) and signing. My children are picking up both. I've sometimes thought about what it would be like to hear... but an honest audiologist told me that if I got one, my hearing wouldn't be the same as a normal person's hearing. Everything would still sound like donald duck under water. So what's the point? I'm happy the way I am anyway. My husband, who is hearing, says that I don't need to change at all, and that I'm wonderful just the way I am. :)

Michelle said...

Wow, you are trilingual!! How awesome is that!?