I have about twenty minutes before I have to run to Pilates, my salvation, but I saw this blog and must respond to this (even though I have no idea what she said, because I don't understand captionless ASL)because the title is so significant. We are constantly educating the hearing community regarding deafness, because Jordan is both deaf and a part of the hearing community. The most significant aspect of the cochlear implant is that it enables deaf children to be effectively mainstreamed. Therefore, many hearing children raised with my son have had a firsthand experience of what it means for Jordan to be deaf.
As I've said before, we went from temper tantrums to communication. His classmates lived this transition with him every single day of school, holidays, parties and life. During pre-school, Jordan NEVER sang in the end of the year programs, he would scream, fuss and run to sit in my lap to watch his friends sing - learning the lyrics to five songs was way too much for him. The first year he sang in a small presentation was when he was in second grade. I was so emotional about the experience that I went off to the side to cry in peace, when suddenly, I see my friend Francesca walking towards me, tears streaming down her face. She said, "Jodi, Jordan is singing! Can you even believe how much progress he has made?" WE sat there for another ten minutes crying in silence. I'm so not trying to be dramatic with all of this, I'm trying to say that when you move through the world making others a part of your life, struggles and successes, people open their minds and learn.
When Jordan received his cochlear implant, I went to school with photos to explain to his third grade class what would be happening to Jordan...how important it was for them to be supportive of him during a time when he would have only one hearing aid until his activation. I told these eight year olds how grateful I was that they were such good friends to my son, that they helped him understand the teachers' directions, made sure he copied the homework correctly and overall looked out for him despite many of his frustrations. A mother called me later that night to ask me about the cochlear implant because her son had told her about that talk and how proud I was of him for being a good friend. His class gave him so much love and support after his operation. They were quieter, attentive about the site of the operation and extremely helpful. Communication leads to education. They knew Jordan was deaf. When he had hearing aids, they made sure to speak in front of him so he could speech read. Don't think for a minute that after his cochlear implant, every single one of those kids did not note a dramatic transformation in my son.
Every summer we go to the beach on a daily basis. Jordan does not wear his ci on the beach, he puts it on when he plays cards, but he is totally deaf on the beach. ALL OF HIS FRIENDS know to speak to him so that he can speech read, otherwise, he will not be able to understand them. Sometimes, while I'm playing beach volleyball, I'll hear one of his friends screaming to another kid, "HE CAN'T HEAR YOU, HE'S DEAF, HE NEEDS TO SEE YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU TALK TO HIM!" The hearing children know that my son is deaf...he is educating them.
When people in this town think DEAF, they associate that with my son...our experience. Do they know about ASL (LIS)? Yes, because twice a day, there is an interpreter for the news programs. Do hearing students in this town know about Deaf culture and ASL (LIS)? No, they do not, they only know my son who is deaf, who wears a cochlear implant, who speaks Italian and English.