«

»

Deaf Mom of Two Deaf Children

January 25th, 2008 by | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments »

A deaf mother of two deaf children just sent me a FANTASTIC e-mail explaining to me why certain people in the deaf community have a difficult time accepting cochlear implants and the oral approach today. She is extremely opened minded and understands that her children’s opportunities and future come first. Here is her letter:

I am a mom of three children. We are deaf parents of two that are deaf as well. Our second child has bilateral implants (at 14 months and 15 months). He is now 3 1/2 years old and wants to have his processors on all the time. We have no doubts about proceeding with bilaterals again for our youngest who is 8 months now. We are looking at 12 months to begin the CI journey for him.

When we learned our second born was deaf (via ABR testing), we were told to check out about cochlear implants. I was very skeptical about it initially because of the different things I had heard about it then. I decided to be open minded and say no if we did not want to pursue it. After 10 months of researching the different aspects of the CI, ( talked with CI adult users, e-mailed parents of CI children, joined list servs such as CIcircle, checked out several implant centers, etc.), we decided to pursue it. Aren’t we glad? Yes!

I am profoundly deaf but can speak and use the phone (some of the time) and communicate both in signing and orally with the children. My husband signs only. We make it all work! Nevertheless, here is the point I wanted to make. In our generation, oralism is viewed very negatively which is understandably so depending on the residual hearing one has, however, we CANNOT view oralism with CI children as it is a completely different way of raising deaf children today. Entirely. My son could pick up the k’s and g’s and could tell them apart and those consonants are difficult to learn in therapy sessions. It is a small example but an example of what my son can do. He amazes me every day with what he can pick up from incidental listening. He can pick things up without lip reading. We deaf parents must let go of our experiences of how we were taught in oralism and embrace what CIs can do for today’s children. It still takes hard work yet it is half the battle when you are able to pick up auditorily.

One woman of a deaf husband heard my son say “I want that” pointing to some food on my lunch plate. She asked if I was teaching him to be oral. I thought to myself, well of course! Why put all that money into it for these CIs…isn’t that the point? I had to remember she was viewing through the older generation of deaf “eyes”…

26 Comments

Naomi

January 25, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Rachel

thank you for sharing this story on your blog. Many thanks also to the mother that sent this to you. It shows enormous courage, understanding and openess. I truly appreciate her insight into why we see some of the reactions to CIs in people of her generation raised orally. What a truly amazing mother and equally what an amazing family looking at all the options, making an informed choice and then as she put it “making it all work”. Hats off to you all!

Anonymous

January 26, 2008 at 1:01 am

Deaf mom, You made very good points about oralism and CI and hope that will help the Deaf community understand and accept CI in young children. I am also a Deaf mom of a CI kid who is bilingual in ASL and spoken English. Did you grow up as an oral or TC student? You didn’t mention ASL and I thought maybe you used to be oral yourself.

Rachel, can I have this mom’s email address?

January 26, 2008 at 1:09 am

Excellent!

And what Rachel said.

:o)

Paotie

January 26, 2008 at 1:10 am

Oops!

I meant what Naomi said (sorry)!

Great job, Rachel.

:o)

Paotie

January 26, 2008 at 2:03 am

I’m not surprised parents are contacting YOU to share their stories. Beautiful, Rachel…very eloquent post, deaf mom! Jodi

John Critser

January 26, 2008 at 4:13 am

It’s great that you cite the advantages for some that CI implants can be:

“My son could pick up the k’s and g’s and could tell them apart and those consonants are difficult to learn in therapy sessions. It is a small example but an example of what my son can do. He amazes me every day with what he can pick up from incidental listening.”

Now, can the CI/oral/auditory people cite any advantages that ASL offers, that amaze you? I would like to hear from CI implantees that know sign language in sharing their experiences on what a rich and linquistic language ASL is.

Karen Mayes

January 26, 2008 at 6:52 am

I am glad to see this blog… since I know there is a growing trend of deaf parents CI’ing their deaf children, understanding a big picture and wanting more opportunities for them, etc. It shows an open-mindedness, when they realize that sign language (it does not matter whether it is ASL, TC, etc…) rarely has a place in the hearing world where English is often used. The majority of Americans has very little or no contact with deaf people, despite the popularity of ASL offered as a foreign language class in schools nowadays.

Rachel, you have the magnetiscm that makes both hearing and deaf parents of CI children or of thinking of getting CI for their children coming forward and speaking up.

Good job, Rachel :o)

White Ghost

January 26, 2008 at 9:23 am

Beautifully said, both of you girls!

I know it is very difficult for you both to approach this kind of controversy. Just learn from this kind of example you are showing to all of us.

That is what Mishka have attempted to approach the CI, ASL and deaf controversy into the deaf community.

Kudos to all of you, including Mishka.

Girls Power!

January 26, 2008 at 10:56 am

According to one DeafRead editor, Mishka decided to collect comments from the Internet to develop some form of a narrative.

One editor of DeafRead stated that there was a lack of “negative” CI-related blog articles on DeafRead, therefore, Mishka sought to “correct” that.

Of course, the only problem is that there have been so few CI-related blogs on DeafRead up until just recently, so OF COURSE there weren’t enough “negative” CI-related blogs on DeafRead – at least until Mishka ranted and raved against ONE commentator who participated in that same narrative.

Mishka ought to stick to tabloid reporting.

:o)

Paotie

anna s

January 26, 2008 at 2:06 pm

WE ARE NOT ALONE!!!!! Bless you sweet Rachel for posting this!

It is a struggle for us living in a deaf community where there is so much resistance towards cochlear implants and oralism. The times have changed dramatically As Deaf parents ourselves, we hve the responsibility for our deaf children. Their needs come first before the culturally anti-oralism, anti-Total Communication Deafies. It has been a tough journey for us but we are still standing up strong.

We need a network of D/deaf parents with CI children. Most of the blogs are either hearing parents/oral ed with no signing support or radical Deaf who are pro-ASL/anti cochlear-implants. Where do we fit in???? Anyone willing to create a blog representing us, an unique, but growing population?

anna s

January 26, 2008 at 2:20 pm

John Cristser,

You amaze me. You dont just let it go? ASL, sure! What’s wrong with both, ASL and CI? I use ASL and CASE with my kid in the home. He is benefitting from both. It is a hearing world! We have a DUTY to prepare our deaf children to be able to listen , lipread, and speak to their maximum potential. ASL is a wonderful supplement and it is also a great communication tool for babies and very young children while their auditory centers are developing.

Deaf mom of a Deaf CI kid (different mom from the one who wrote the post above).

Rachel

January 26, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Anonymous,

Could you please e-mail me using the e-mail link that is at the top of this page.

Thanks!

Rachel

John Critser

January 26, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Anna S, I don’t have a problem with both CI and ASL, as long as people don’t reject ASL for some notion that it is a primitive language. My only quest is to make people realize that even people who only use ASL with no auditory or speech skills are still equal to those that are able to listen, speak, and lipread to their maximum potential. It’s like saying that Chinese people who only speak Mandarin or Cantonese and who congregate in their own culture in Chinatown are not equal to the rest of the American mainstream. I just want to make sure that all parents of CI implantees understand and realize that Deaf people who use only ASL are enriched with a culture, a linquistic language, and they feel that they are not missing out on anything. It seems like CI people keep telling us it is a hearing world (needless to remind us, though) and that we need to be able to function in the hearing world by being able to speak, listen, and read lips. That is the part, that I think is untrue. We have interpreters. We have videophone. We have more accessories and assistive devices than ever. I do understand for the need of CI parents to have their children to be able to function without interpreters and without those devices and services. I only would like to sound off with the fact that ASL can survive in the hearing world and function normally, and that being oral with auditory skills is just a choice for some parents of Deaf children, and for some Deaf people. ASL being used primarily is also a choice for many of us, too. BUt there is no status posturing whether we use ASL only or are oral only, we are all equal, with different cultures and different worlds, but we are not any better than one another. Someone who speaks perfectly like a hearing person is not any better than a Deaf person who can’t talk at all but use ASL.

That is the point we all want to get across to everyone and make sure we are not classified any lower than CI/oral people are.

deaf mom to 2 CI children

January 26, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Anonymous,

Being born deaf, my parents chose the oral route by putting me in an oral school then I was mainstreamed but did not learn sign language til I was 11 when I had an interpreter for the first time in a classroom setting. I had gone to a summer school for deaf children using total communication yet I drifted to ASL as I mingled more with deaf children as well as onwards into adulthood. I did not mention ASL because it was not the point of what I wanted to say in my initial post which is dealing with some root issues the deaf community may have regarding CIs. It is great to know there are others D/deaf parents of CI children:)

deaf mom to 2 CI children

January 26, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Anna S, glad there are other D/deaf parents like us with CI children, unfortunately I am not computer savvy nor have the time (I think it takes) to create a blogspot…three small children is enough on my plate~hopefully there will be one!

deaf mom to 2 CI children

January 26, 2008 at 9:45 pm

John Cristser,

You mentioned “someone who speaks perfectly like a hearing person is not any better than a Deaf person who can’t talk at all but use ASL”. I wholeheartedly agree with you that having a CI or being oral does not give place above one who uses ASL only as my husband is ASL only and does not speak at all(no benefits from HAs for years). My hearing child signs without voicing with dad but signs with me when I need him to. My second child (with CIs) does the same thing..signs without voicing with dad and voices with me and at times signs as well. We know our third will probably follow suit as well. It is a bilingual home.

anna s

January 26, 2008 at 10:34 pm

John,

Your comment of 3:03 pm speak volumes. I agree with you (finally? ha ha). People do respond to me and my son differently. Why? He has a CI and has somewhat intelligible speech while I am just a Deaf-mute. People see me as less intelligent regardless of the fact that I hold a Masters degree. That is how it is. The more educated and down-to-earth hearing people are, the less likely they will assume my mind is just as good as theirs. It is a cruel world full of ignorance, unfortunately. I do not want to subject my child to struggles, oppression, discrimination, limited workability, and many more. The Deaf world is an awesome place to be! I am blessed that I am a part of the culture and my son is not at all excluded from the warm tight knit D/deaf community!

anna s

January 26, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Oh yikes. I know. I flubbed in my previous comment.

Correction: the more educated/down to earth people are, the more likely they will assume my mind is as good as theirs regardless of my muteness. The worst group of people usually are the upper middle class to the wealthy. They really do judge us, the culturally Deaf. That is why I added down-to-earth college educated hearing people. They tend to be the best!

John Critser

January 27, 2008 at 3:02 am

I was glad to hear of the comments #16 and #17, coming from a Deaf parent. I am still soliciting comments from hearing parents on my comment #13. Deaf people does have more equilibrium with comments as they have tasted both ASL and oralism, as parents of CI children. But hearing parents? I would like to hear their comments as per their response on #13. I would expect their comments to be somewhat different as they do not know any sign language, but I still want to pose my question to them, regardless of their signing skills which may be non-existent, or understanding of Deaf culture, which might be biased. Unless some parents put in a mix of comments to prove otherwise.

By the way I didn’t notice any comments from hearing parents on #13. Cat got their tongue?

Another mum

January 27, 2008 at 6:26 am

Maybe John you haven’t heard from hearing parents re #13 because we are tired of going around in circles on this one. This whole notion that hearing parents think less of those that use ASL, or think of ASL as a primitive language is a red herring, it keeps turning up in these discussions as some kind of “end of discussion” kind of comment, when really the discussion was about the informed choices of the parents who presented their story here. This whole idea of hearing parents looking down on those that use ASL or them thinking about ASL as a primitive language, doesn’t come from hearing parents, the only time I see it brought up is in instances such as this.

Spencer

January 27, 2008 at 10:17 pm

I think this brings up a good point. From my experience, and many many other teachers will tell you the same, Deaf kids with cochlear implants that also use ASL are far more successful–in speech, listening skills, academics, and socially–than those with CIs that are oral only. Mom of 2 Deaf CIs’ kids are probably quite successful BECAUSE they use ASL and have access to a full language. The key word the mother herself used is BILINGUAL.

Anonymous

January 28, 2008 at 12:49 am

“Someone who speaks perfectly like a hearing person is not any better than a Deaf person who can’t talk at all but use ASL.”

I agree with that quote! My husband uses ASL only while I speak and use ASL although my speech isn’t perfect. We are both college educated and work as professionals like anybody else.

I wanted my child to take advantage of both ASL and spoken language with CI so that she can have the best of hearing and deaf worlds. Our therapists said that she s been progressing much more quickly than most other CI kids who received CI at the same age and I believe it s all because of ASL. She understood 250 words and could express over 120 words in ASL when she received CI at 20 months old.

Please contact Rachel if you are interested in joining a forum for deaf parents of CI kids.

John Critser

January 28, 2008 at 3:10 am

I fully expected an answer from a hearing mum in this shape and form, I had no illusions about this:

“Maybe John you haven’t heard from hearing parents re #13 because we are tired of going around in circles on this one. This whole notion that hearing parents think less of those that use ASL, or think of ASL as a primitive language is a red herring, it keeps turning up in these discussions as some kind of “end of discussion” kind of comment, when really the discussion was about the informed choices of the parents who presented their story here. This whole idea of hearing parents looking down on those that use ASL or them thinking about ASL as a primitive language, doesn’t come from hearing parents, the only time I see it brought up is in instances such as this.” Comment by Another mum

My response:

The discussion isn’t just about the informed choices of the parents who presented their story here. Nope. It is about that, but we have to be more broad here, than narrow minded. Discussions can turn into a wider scope discussion about CI implantees and the choices of their parents and even how they view Deaf culture, and the primary language, ASL. My purpose is to bring reality to everyone, even by throwing cold water, but that is life. The reality is there ARE hearing parents looking down on those that use ASL or them thinking about ASL as a primitive language. It is a fact, not some crab theory or some disgruntled Deaf cultured commenter making a point of it. It is cold, stark reality. I fully expected a response of this nature. I do also expect for hearing parents to come forward and tell the truth how they feel about ASL signers who do not speak or have any auditory ability. We deserve to know from their own accounts. I only know from experience, as an insider.

Many parents of oral children who sign later in life are the ones resigned to the fact their children were exposed to ASL. I am curious how they really feel. But I am more curious about how the parents of CI children who do not sign at all feel. It’s not about exposing them incurring the wrath of the Deaf community but it is about them learning more about all the different perspectives and why we feel each perspective we hold have the highest potential for the Deaf child to succeed.

I do not want hearing parents to look the other way while in reality they feel ASL serves as a deterrent to learning how to speak, to lipread, and to listen. They need to express how they feel. Of course, there will be certain ones in Deaf culture who will not be happy with such a narrow view or assumptions, we can respect their honesty.

Let’s agree to disagree, in other words. That’s not going around in circles.

January 31, 2008 at 2:42 am

[...] [and by extension, the hearing world’s] job easier. Wild and crazy Friday night, Deaf Mom of Two Deaf Children, Would Beethoven Have Wanted a Cochlear Implant?, Can Culture Argument Be Applied Equally and Why I [...]

Another mum

January 31, 2008 at 11:30 pm

John, I have no problem agreeing to disagree. My perspective, in all honesty, is that I can speak from my own experience and the experience of the kids with CIs that I see and interact with regularly. When I discuss or present what I see with them, the reaction it generates from some is either that I am lying and misleading people by what I have said, or that this is just a rare instance. I can do no more than to present what I know and see, I can’t make anyone believe what I am saying to be true, anymore than I can grow wings and fly. So if there isn’t a premise of mutual trust that what is being said/presented is the truth as perceived by that individual, then really what is the point? How do we go forward in any kind of meaningful discussion from there? Equally I can’t make decisions/judgements about anyone else’s kids here, I don’t live with them, see their life etc, and so it does bother me when I see sweeping statements made about what I should or shouldn’t do where the comments come from people who don’t know me or my son. It is not a matter of being defensive, it is a matter of not understanding how others can make those kinds of calls without really knowing the deal as it is in my house for my family.

Last night I was wishing you all the tiniest view into my home. There sat my teen (well actually he started sitting and finished up in a very usual teen lounge/slump across the furniture) talking on his mobile to his hearing friend from school. They talked for 20 minutes on the phone, no “whats”, no “pardons” but many many instances of spontaneous laughter, the odd swear word (which of course he didn’t learn from me : – ) and the finalising of plans for a school group get together today at the other boy’s home. They plotted strategies to win the various X-Box games they play, you name it, they covered it.

I haven’t raised a deaf child before, he is my first, so I have no comparison as to whether he would be happier, more successful or anything else if he had learned ASL as well as spoken language. All I can say is that I watch him, his spirit, his love of live and his thorough enjoyment of it all and how successful he is in every possible way that I know how to measure that, socially, self-esteem-ally, academically. He is a full on member of everything he is involved in so I can’t say that I see anything missing in his life.

June 6, 2008 at 10:15 pm

I am a deaf poet who recently recieved a cochlear implant in August of 2007. I love every minute of my implant…..its a great life for me now……

I want you to read more of my cochlear implant journey by reading my blogs on my website……

http://www.stephenmichaelverigood.net