Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hurricane RACHEL!


Rachel's powerful voice is rocking the Deaf Community:
COOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUGH! Same old criticism that I get all the time - My life’s not good enough without ASL. Deaf people should own deaf children, not the parents.

First of all, I believe that deaf people or ANY people do NOT have the right to make a decision for someone else’s child. ONLY the parents should make the decision for their own child. (AMEN)

I believe that deaf children who qualify for AVT and CIs should NOT learn sign language before learning spoken language; however, I will not go after parents and say to them, “Do NOT teach your child sign language.” I will just share my experiences and tell them that I got a CI when I was a toddler and a second one when I was older, I was raised with the AVT approach and did not learn ASL, and I’m very happy with my parents’ decision. If they ask me what I believe, I will tell them that I believe that deaf children who QUALIFY for CIs and AVT should get CIs as soon as possible, go with the AVT approach, and not learn sign language until they master their auditory skills, unless they find that the CI and/or AVT is not working well for their child for some reason, and then they can try a different method. As I said, I’m not going to go in parents’ faces and say, “YOU should do this and this and YOU should NOT do this and this.” Parents have the right to make their own choices. Choosing the best method is an individual choice, not one big group’s choice nor one famous leader’s choice, not anyone else but the parents’.


Wow...inspirational words for the hearing mother of a deaf child with a cochlear implant. I cannot speak for my son, I can talk about him and his progress, regression, behavior, personality, but I do not know what he will say about this entire experience ten years from now. Please, please let him be as proud of himself as Rachel is of herself. Let him find a strong voice, stronger than mine based on his life experiences.

The Deaf Community requested to hear the voices of cochlear implantees and here she is...RACHEL! Her purpose is not to grandstand, it is to be proud of who she is, what she has accomplished and where she plans to go in the future. She speaks with that young, collegiate, "I'm going to kick some serious ass, because I can" voice. There is NO subtlety of hopefulness in her voice, she is convinced and self-reliant. Independent. Amazing.

This is part of a post I wrote back in December that quotes Melissa's comments about Rachel's travels in France:

Here's a story that is a real testament to how necessary the ability to hear
and speak are to be truly independent in the hearing world. As I had
written before, Rachel was in France. She was volunteering with an
organization called Volunteers for Peace. The organization is affiliated
with UNESCO and recommended by the Princeton Review, and so it looked pretty
good. According to their write-up, she was supposed to be working with
kids, with people with disabilities, helping out in the fields on the farm,
etc. Unfortunately, it turned out that the woman who ran the farm was very
nasty.

She was constantly yelling at the volunteers but especially Rachel
as she apparently does not like Americans. In addition, rather than
activities to help promote peace, she had the girls doing nothing but
cooking and cleaning the house. Rachel tried to speak to her about the
situation as she was the only one who spoke French and could communicate
with the woman, but the woman only got nastier. *There were two other volunteers with her for the week, both from Korea. The Koreans spoke English but not French. The leader spoke French but not English. So, my deaf daughter, whom the experts told me 20 years ago would probably never speak English well, acted as the translator between the leader and the Korean girls since she's fluent in both languages.*

NOTE: Rachel didn't start studying French until the second semester of her 9th grade year. Her high school was on a semester system, which enabled her
after taking French every semester to study through French 5 followed by a
full year of AP French her senior year and a semester of French in college.
Plus, she went on two exchange programs to France and then spent 3 weeks
there with her French friends last summer as well and has maintained email
and written communication in French with a couple of French pen pals since
9th grade as well.

...Rachel had spent $250 of her own money plus her frequent flyer mileage and
my parents' to get there, and so she wanted to try to salvage some of the
trip. Therefore, she opted to leave the farm and make her way to Bayonne,
France, where she has some very close friends and which is at the opposite
end of the country from where she was in the middle of rural France outside
of Marseilles.

She got a ride to the bus stop in the little town near where
she was. She knew that she needed to get to the train station in Marseilles
but didn't know anything more than that. In French, she asked two high
school students at the bus stop how to get there. They were very nice and
sat on the bus with her, showing her where to get off and telling her which
bus to transfer to. When she got off the second bus, she asked the bus
driver in French how to get to the train station. He told her how to get
there. She walked a few blocks to the train station and asked in French at
the station how to get to Bayonne. This entailed taking two trains for a
total of 7 hours, transferring in Bordeaux.

Throughout all of this, she was in constant touch with me and with her friends in Bayonne via cell phone. I cannot imagine what she would have done had she not been able to communicate as well as she can. She certainly would have been stuck at the farm for the full 2 and a half weeks. Also, being able to speak to her throughout this ordeal certainly kept me from being one basketcase of a totally anxious mom.

All's well that ends well as she's back home tonight safe and sound, having
enjoyed the last part of her trip much more than the first. Oh, one more
thing - If anyone knows of any great organizations that run volunteer
programs in Europe for college students, we'd love to hear about them
because she will be there again this summer and has about three weeks to
fill before starting her semester abroad in France in September, and she's
certainly not going through Volunteers for Peace again!

HOW'S THAT FOR AN AMAZING STORY? YEAH, SHE'LL BE AT MY HOUSE NEXT SUMMER FOR EUROPEAN VACATION PART 2 (CAN YOU BELIEVE HER MOM TRUSTS ME WITH HER?:))
Yes...Hurricane Rachel is blowing away Deafread.com with her candid and confident voice.

43 comments:

cnkatz said...

I want to make something very clear.

As a culturally deaf person, I believe the deaf community needs to be confronted with the reality that FEW deaf people succeed with oral language ALONE as a chosen mode of communication in LIFE. Many Deaf people, believe me, know of this. And I believe the hearing world needs to be brutally confronted with the fact that sign language should first be used with deaf and hearing children in order to have a good boost/springboard in language development. If the parents want to focus on oral language development, they can phase out sign language until later when they become young adults.

Deaf people do not own deaf children. Parents do not own their deaf children. Deaf children own themselves. Because they are young and need guidance, their parents need to make good decisions to make sure their children grow optimally. In that, the road ahead for them is fraught with hidden mines. Parents of deaf children MUST be informed of many things and realize that it is a guarantee for an optimal language development of their deaf children if they use sign language with or without speech.

I feel it is arrogant for any deaf person to say "my communication mode is best" especially if rejecting anything else. Life is best lived in moderation and accept what helps them.

It shows the inner motive of Rachel when asserting herself after being exposed to possible ugly taunts by the signing deaf. I applaud Rachel for being assertive and say what she think. But like for anything in life, once carried too far shows its' ugly colors.

I simply love posts like this even if they ranckle me. The more ugly truth is exposed, the inner truth is shown, learned, and appreciated for everyone to cohese together.

Anonymous said...

I don't care if she is success that she can be able to hear like hearing does on C.I. then I am applaud. But if C.I. doesn't make other deaf who can hear like hearing does. I am not applaud that she won't accepted them because they can't hear well and using their ASL for better communication. Gotcha? Or you just prejudged against ASL, mmmm.

K.L. said...

Rachel is among the first wave of early implanted kids to reach adulthood. From what I've seen with my own child implanted at 12 minths, and other families with early implanted kids, it is going to become very clear that the implant works extremely well for very young kids.

involved parents are absolutely critical to successful language acquisition. That is true for ALL languages. For my daughter who knows SEE, but doesn't currently use it much, learning ASL is a choice she will probably make, as she does enjoy sign language, but it will be an option for her, not a requirement.

Anonymous said...

"Deaf people do not own deaf children. Parents do not own their deaf children. Deaf children own themselves."

I strongly disagree with you, cnkatz.

Communication skills are the upmost priority for any parents to make the critical decision. It's the parents' job, neither yours nor the children's job.

As a parent of my hearing girls, Parental Involvement is a *MUST*! Literateness is the main key for *any* children to obtain the academic standards. Parents have the right to ensure the decision for the children's future.

Communication skills are the upmost proirity for any parents to make the decision for the children's sake.

I have always told my girls that I am happy that their literacy are much better than mine, so that way, they can eligible for the colleges.

We all want to ensure *any* and *my* children to capably the writing and reading skills the upmost.

White Ghost

Karen Mayes said...

I just chuckle at the ruffling of the feathers...all right, Rachel has SPUNK and it will serve her well throughout her life, especially she was recently diagnosed to have Usher's syndrome (she said it in her blog.) She is a survivor and she speaks her own mind... good for her. There are many people who are like her (Aidan for an example, a complete opposite of Rachel, but kind of same spunk.)

I see people are harsh on Rachel...and other people because they speak their own minds and we feel "threatened."

Well, whatever... life is short! No whining over spilled milk ;o)

Candy said...

CI is a different breed. Kind of similar to HOH person who have succeeded in speaking and listening. Rachel is not a typical deaf person. Her CI enables her to accomplish what she has thus far. I don't think Rachel was giving out impression that deaf people should be oral. This is what her mom chose for her and she is happy with it. That's it. If a parent chose not to implant their child and the child is profoundly deaf and the parent forces oral method on that child, then, yes, there is a problem. What works for one child does not necessarily work for all. There are success stories all around whether one has CI or not. Parental involment (intense) is obviously the key in whatever decision the parents make. I applaud Rachel for speaking out and I hope the deaf community would just listen and say "ok, this works for you, I'm happy for you." and at the same time say "I'm happy with the choices my parents made for me because it works for me." Because some deaf people were putting words in Rachel's mouth and/or putting her down, the hurricane in her came out. Can't say I blame her. Yet, I do believe that Rachel will continue to grow and learn more about the deaf community over time. Kind of unfortunate that she has Deaf Read to learn from because DR is not representive of the REAL deaf community.

Karen Mayes said...

*cough,cough...politely...* White Ghost and Candy have good points. I don't need to say anymore.

Anonymous said...

K.L. if you don't want to learn ASL nor social with deaf then you are hearing. Get off the deafread blog, get lost.

K.L. said...

Anon,
Nice hiding there.
I'm not on DeafRead, I'm on Jodi's blog. It just happens to be connected to DeafRead.

Cochlear implants are now part of the deaf community. Inescapable. You might want to learn about how they work rather than just diss the families that choose them.

Mike McConnell said...

anon, another thing, you don't own Deafread. Neither does the Deaf community. DeafRead is owned by the founders of DeafRead. And they made it very clear that DeafRead is open to any and all bloggers and vloggers whether they are deaf, hard of hearing or hearing (with a hearing aid, cochlear implant or none at all) and their subject is a deaf-related one.

Anon, if you have a problem with that please go and complain to the owners and/or editors of DeafRead rather than to tell people to get off of DeafRead. YOU...DO...NOT...OWN...IT!

Anonymous said...

Ok, the CI is great. That's great. It's wonderful to be BI-LINGUAL though, isn't it, like in this example of Rachel's travels in France. The only reason she was able to communicate as well as she did was because she knew French.

I don't understand at all why it is a conflict of interest for the AVT kids to learn sign language also. It's sort of silly to deny someone the ONE language they can access visually, rather than betting their entire development on the way they use one machine. Technology fails, technology improves, why not know ASL too? John Egbert had a great post "Oral as Accessory," when he talked about oral skills as a great tool, but not the foundation for development. Children who grow up knowing more than one language are smarter anyway, so I don't see the big issue.

dog food said...

its so cute to see that both of your feathers are ruffled.

like, this isn't a big deal, y'know? you can't speak for me, and neither can rachel. you two speak for yourself; anything else, i learned (and continue to keep learning) that its to be taken with a grain of salt.

K.L. said...

As I understand it, the AVT philosophy is to put ALL your efforts into verbal and auditory language. This will stretch and strengthen the neural pathways in the auditory center of the brain. Since that area of the brain is behind and needs to catch up, all the auditory input focuses the brain in on that area to create a strong aural foundation. Time spent on ASL is time spent away from verbal speech therapy. And if the brain is getting the info visually, it won't work as hard in the aural area.

mishkazena said...

Putting on my deafread editor hat here:

Anonymous, you do not have the right to order K.L. or others to get out of DeafRead. Only the owners of DeafRead have the authority. As long as their posts are deaf-centric enough and within the guidelines, the bloggers and vloggers are welcome. It doesn't matter if they are Deaf and use ASL or oral deaf using spoken English.

Putting on MZ's hat, anyone who has any type of hearing loss is part of the Deaf community whether you like it or not. They may not be part of Deaf Culture. However, just because they are not interested in Deaf Culture nor ASL doesn't make them hearing. They are still deaf.

Deafhood means accepting all deaf people, oral, ASL, PSE, TC, cochlear implants.

Yes, Rachel has some attitude, though it's better than before. To be fair to her, there are some Deaf people who has an attitude toward oral deaf people, too. We need to keep trying to understand and accept each other without prejudice.

Tiffani said...

Jodi, thanks for this post. I visited Rachel's site and am impressed with her, too.

We can go back and forth forever on this issue. I just don't understand all the vitriol from both sides about a family's personal choice. We chose CIs and AVT, and we're learning some signs for specific situations. This is our choice, and what is best for our family.

Thanks!

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

Whoa, rockin' comments! First of all, don't tell K.L. to "Get Lost!" on MY BLOG!
I clicked on the free comments bar thinking everyone was cool enough to be responsible in their comments, that comment was ridiculous. If you do not agree with K.L.'s way of thinking, exercise some critical thinking and writing skills to debate her, otherwise, refrain from such comments.

Thank you, MK for your input...as always.

cnkatz..thank you for your comment, very interesting and I agree that Parents of deaf children must be informed of all options, this does not happen.

White Ghost, I agree that communication skills are a top priority in making decisions for your deaf child.

K.L. - live for you. I agree with this: "involved parents are absolutely critical to successful language acquisition."

Karen, I also agree with your comparison between Aidan and Rachel and how they use their voices. I believe that Rachel is much more flexible in her views than Aidan...however, they are both open to dialogue.

"I like Candy" as usual, excellent comment.

Hi Tiffani! I'm really happy that you found Rachel's site. She and her sister are incredible people. I am learning a lot from the debate between the Deaf community and the CI Deaf Community.

Hi Mike!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that all parents know what's best for their children?

I have a student in my classroom that is 13 years old, had a CI since she was 2, and still is not speaking or able to understand anything other than her name. She is not using ASL or any other language or code, visual or auditory. Yet, the mother refuses to use any other method than oralism. Can you honestly tell me that this mother is doing what is best for her child?

Or take the 12 year old girl who is using ASL beautifully, uses hearing aids for environmental sounds, and is generally very happy and content with herself. Her father is trying to get her a CI. Is this really the best option at this time?

Or take the 11 year old boy who is deaf, has autism, and severe behavior issues. Anytime he misbehaves, his father beats him with a belt. Is he really doing what is best for his child?

I'm sorry, but I'm sick of parents claiming that they know what's best for their own children when they don't. It is in these situations of child neglect and abuse that we tend to want to take a step forward and say hey... this isn't necessarily the best option. If you saw your neighbor beating up their child, wouldn't you intervene? I would certainly hope so. It takes a village to raise a child. If you aren't raising them right, I sure will step in and say so.

Anonymous said...

"Time spent on ASL is time spent away from verbal speech therapy."

Time spent on AVT is time spent away from learning math, science, social studies, reading, etc. etc. etc.

"And if the brain is getting the info visually, it won't work as hard in the aural area."

If you have proof that visual information impedes auditory development, please cite it. All of the research I've read on this(including research easily found on baby signs websites) has indicated the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the transcript, and for sharing your story!

Comment by Bill — March 17, 2008 @ 11:42 am
Miss Chaikof:

Can you translate your audio-video
in French?

Merci bcp.

JB

Comment by Jean Boutcher — March 17, 2008 @ 12:04 pm
Bless you for your passionate bravery!

When I wrote the blog post the other day, the way the other bloggers analyzed my post made me realize that I came wrong way.

I basically tried that I have NOTHING against you, and other cochlear implantees asn individuals. If your technology decreases the society’s disabiling of you and you like it, I am more than happy to hand-wave you for that.

What I insisted was whether you would supported Deaf Bilingual Coalition’s basic goal that deaf children be presented with access to signed languages (ASL here in U.S.) until the deaf child find his/her true desire (whether to go on to speak spoken language, sign signed language, or both when he/she grow up.

I only protested the ideology that insists that signed languages are not relevant to deaf children. They are for the majority of deaf people. Will that eventually change for the deaf community? We will see. But I prefer that WE DEAF PEOPLE decide it, not hearing supremacists who refuse to listen to deaf people’s opinions. Now there may be good well-intending hearing people but that doesn’t negate ablism and audism inherent in “easy way out” of cochlear implants or any other fast fixes. There had been too much history here between hearing world and deaf world.

I understand and respect your preferring to go without signed language (though I wonder at what you are missing out, *big grin*) but can you clarify your position relating to Deaf Bilingual Coalition’s mission statement? So that we can know that you had already sat and analyzed the ideology of cochlear implant industry. Looking forward to more from you, and thank you for the access to your mind with the text!

Comment by Oscar Serna — March 17, 2008 @ 12:26 pm
Jean Boutcher: quit being an ass, ok?

Comment by anon — March 17, 2008 @ 3:38 pm
Anon, you attacks Jean Boutcher. I agree with her.

Comment by ChrisH — March 17, 2008 @ 5:25 pm
It’d be interesting to know why JB wants it translated into French.

Comment by mcconnell — March 17, 2008 @ 5:32 pm
C’est parce qu’elle veut voir si je dis la vérité. - It’s because she wants to see if I’m telling the truth.

I will translate the transcript into French.

Comment by Rachel — March 17, 2008 @ 8:00 pm
Rachel,

I was wonder ….. Do you like to sign ASL or not? You’re young and can learn anything right!

Davy

Comment by Davy — March 17, 2008 @ 8:42 pm
COOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUGH! Same old criticism that I get all the time - My life’s not good enough without ASL. Deaf people should own deaf children, not the parents.

First of all, I believe that deaf people or ANY people do NOT have the right to make a decision for someone else’s child. ONLY the parents should make the decision for their own child.

I believe that deaf children who qualify for AVT and CIs should NOT learn sign language before learning spoken language; however, I will not go after parents and say to them, “Do NOT teach your child sign language.” I will just share my experiences and tell them that I got a CI when I was a toddler and a second one when I was older, I was raised with the AVT approach and did not learn ASL, and I’m very happy with my parents’ decision. If they ask me what I believe, I will tell them that I believe that deaf children who QUALIFY for CIs and AVT should get CIs as soon as possible, go with the AVT approach, and not learn sign language until they master their auditory skills, unless they find that the CI and/or AVT is not working well for their child for some reason, and then they can try a different method. As I said, I’m not going to go in parents’ faces and say, “YOU should do this and this and YOU should NOT do this and this.” Parents have the right to make their own choices. Choosing the best method is an individual choice, not one big group’s choice nor one famous leader’s choice, not anyone else but the parents’.

Every deaf child is an individual. AVT may not work for all deaf children, but neither is the DBC’s approach the right way for all. It’s best for the DBC to advocate and to support those people who are using ASL and spoken language and who believe in the DBC and to inform those people who are seeking information about the DBC’s method rather than wasting time protesting against other methods. I will support, advocate, and help people who use CIs and the AVT approach. I’m not going to go to any ASL, DBC, or any other events except for AVT/AGBell and CI and say “Here’s another option! Look into the AVT approach!” I will only go to AVT/AGBell and CI events, and support and inform about the AVT approach and CIs and share my experiences and tell them that I’m thankful to my parents. I think that parents should be informed about all options and then make their own choices. My parents were informed about all options, including ASL, when my deafness was first diagnosed, and they made the choice that they felt that would best suit them and ME.

“I understand and respect your preferring to go without signed language (though I wonder at what you are missing out, *big grin*)” - Could you please explain to me what I’m missing out by not learning ASL and how ASL would benefit my life even more even though I can communicate fine with the wider population?

Comment by Rachel — March 17, 2008 @ 8:50 pm
Rachel Rachel you are talking in the air ….. chill out. Now I know you are not intersting ASL of your mind. I just wish you have open heart can do both side communcation because you can learn it that all and please try not to be selfish. Please Please come on think real real hard on this for Deaf people have to say bright side and bad side. You came in Deafread and make hard your self why!
I did learn both side what Deaf people have to say. I myself agree along with Barb Digi and she is very bright powerful any of her message on her Vlog ever I seen ….it touch my heart and tear also happy too.
I just pray for you Rachel that I really am hoping you open your heart and sharing learing each other and grow understanding Deaf need the better bright for us not breaking apart. The wider population can be include ASL too and no missing out!

Thanks
Davy

Comment by Davy — March 17, 2008 @ 9:36 pm
DBC advocates that all Deaf babies have a right to visual language at birth through ASL. It is a coalition that has been established to show support for the benefits of ASL in language acquisition. DBC is not against other opportunities and technologies that may be beneficial to Deaf babies as they grow and develop. DBC is against leaving out ASL as a part of the whole Deaf child’s language development.
Rallies are simply a part of bringing about public awareness and education. DBC is a very positive grassroots organization made of people who know how the system is failing many Deaf babies and their families.
AVT programs “protest” the use of ASL in their therapies. I have read that sign language is not to be used in AVT therapy on AGBell’s website. Therefore, I believe that they are going about this all wrong… Double Standards do apply here.

Comment by Hearing Mom — March 17, 2008 @ 9:38 pm
#4. anon — March 17, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

Ipse dixit, anon. You can write, but you cannot read.

#6. mcconnell — March 17, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

Simply put, McConnell, Rachel Chaikof says in the seventh line, “…I’m able to speak French fluently….” Semantically not clear. Therefore, I asked her if she could translate in French in her audio-video to see if she could speak French WITH ACCENTS fluently.

Being able to speak is not the same with being able to read and write. Some people can speak — or sign, for that matter — but they are illiterate in reading and writing.

#7. Rachel — March 17, 2008 @ 8:00 pm

Vide supra #6.

Comment by Jean Boutcher — March 17, 2008 @ 11:50 pm
Jean, she was “semantically” clear when she said she is able to *speak* French fluently. What you want is proof. Nothing more. And now you want to see if she could speak French with accents now rather than just being fluent in speaking French wasn’t enough for you.

??

Comment by mcconnell — March 18, 2008 @ 8:51 am

Anonymous said...

Deafhood means growing up as a deaf person not a hearing person duh!

mishkazena said...

The reason for the vitriol of some deaf people toward AVT and CI is due to the nonfunctional responses from some deaf kids with c.i. The Deaf Community sees these kids everyday while the hearing parents are shown the successful cases. The hearing parents are not usually given the full information on the pros and cons of each communication methods, with the failures of c.i. frequently swept under the carpet, with some failures blamed unfairly on ASL. Sometimes the hearing parents are not always able to see what is the best for their deaf kids, thinking what is the best for them as hearing parents, especially if they are in denial or bear unrealistically high hopes. The problem with the picture is the failure to acknowledge that not all parents are created equally, so it gets very complicated quickly. : /

mishkazena said...

Anon,

Deafhood means more embracing of the diversity surrounding us.”


From Ella Lentz, one of the Deafhoodl leaders:

Deafhood: “The true success of Deafhood is when Deaf people feel “at home” with being Deaf and finds a commonality with other Deaf people in their use of Sign Language and their visual orientation. When we are secure with our own natural language and community, we can be healthier, more creative and more embracing of the diversity surrounding us.”

http://www.ellasflashlight.com/?cat=5

K.L. said...

Anon,
First off, quit being anon, and sign your posts with something.

You asked for the AVT philosophy and why they don't use sign. I answered. Now it isn't good enough? You want to argue with their philosophy? Not signing is part and parcel with that method.

As to the question of "do all parents really know best?" No. Of course not. There are some really crappy parents out there, and not just parents of deaf kids. However, that does not mean that you get to take away all choice for all parents. The individual parents raise the child. That is how it is. So if individual parents are not doing a good job, or are unwilling to recognise they are not meeting their child's needs, then you need to take issue with those parents individually.

John Critser said...

"Yawn," Rachel's category 3 hurricane is nothing compared to my category 5 hurricane.

When I was 17 years old, I embarked on a solo trip to Venezuela, an oil rich country in South America. I arrived in Caracas, expecting for a deaf friend who was oral to meet me. By then I was a fully inflamed ASL user. He never met me at the terminal, because he was in the wrong terminal.

So, after waiting for a few hours, I decided to go ahead and buy a one way ticket to Merida, a town with college students. I didn't know any spanish except for a few words and phrases, so I mustered enough grit to convey a message to find someone that can speak English then I used that person as a mediator to guide me to the right ticket counter to buy the 1 way tix to Merida.

I was annoyed because my friend didn't show up and now I had to navigate myself as a culturally Deaf person in a solely Spanish speaking country, where machine gun toting soldiers were milling all over the place.

I flew to Barquisimiento for a stopover on my way to Merida and knew better than to get off the plane, and finally arrived in Merida. Since my friend's mom didn't have a home phone line, I had a slip of paper with a phone number of a wealthy friend of hers that had a personal home phone, and called them to pick me up.

I finally saw a cadillac cruise to the pick up lane and instantly knew it was the people I called to pick me up, and I waved and got into the car with my suitcases put in the trunk.

Finally they dropped me off in front of the house, I recognized the jeep as her vehicle from seeing photos sent to me. I told the people a big thanks and walked to the front gate and entered and walked to the front door and put my suitcases down and knocked on the door.

Finally, the door opened, and my friend's mom looked at me in shocked and shrieked, "JOHNNY! You're here! Where is my son?"

I said, "he failed to meet me at the terminal upon my arrival, and waited for your son for hours, finally I decided I had to get the hell out of that airport with all those soldiers roaming around."

She shrieked with a higher pitch, "Johnny! It's so amazing you found your way here on your own two feet without my son to guide you. I am just shocked, Johnny."

I was so tired, all I could do was to muster a smile and say, "can I come in?"

"Yessss, Johnny come in here. Make yourself at home."

Soon that night she dropped me off to a party where my friend's hearing brother was at, and my friend gawked at me, too and was thrilled to announce to the already drunk Venezolanos that a fresh American has just arrived, a Deaf American who uses sign language.

I partied away into the wee hours, teaching people some ASL signs and being so cool. And danced away into the night.

I had no slept for over 40 hours and when I got back to the Venezulean style adobe villa, I went straight to bed and slept for 14 hours straight.

When I woke up, my deaf friend sat on the bedside, peering at me, amazed at my tenacity at arriving alone all by myself.

"You could have been killed, Johnny."

I woke up, fully wide awake after he said that, but only to...

laugh..

Yes I am a category 5 hurricane storm and during that trip in Venezuela I was held at gunpoint three times.

What a country. Sometimes a Category 5 hurricane storm has to weaken to a category three and eventually dissolve.

Melissa said...

Anon -

"Time spent on AVT is time spent away from learning math, science, social studies, reading, etc. etc. etc.
"

This comment shows that you are not fully informed about the A-V approach today. The fact is that most children who are implanted as babies achieve language that is age appropriate or better by kindergarten and then enter a mainstream school with A-V therapy behind them. Some get support in school for academic subjects, but the therapy is over.

My younger daughter was implanted at age 15 months. At age 6, she completed her A-V therapy with language that tested age level to two years above. She is now in 6th grade, is in regular mainstream classes for all subjects and is reading and loving Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." I'd say that her English language skills are excellent, and her academic instruction and skills are certainly not suffering from her years in AVT.

Anonymous said...

Hey, need a break and take a flirty visit at Seek Geo's blog, "Seek Alex" -- plezzzeeee visit his blog at DR's extra and vote to move his blog into the front!

Seek Alex is a damn cute! He's really Legola from "The Lord of the Rings" movie!

Oh my....I'm flirting....

White Ghost

Tales from the CI Gal said...

For 39 years, I lived my life. For 36 years I have been deaf. For 7 years I lived my life without any hearing aids or assistance. For 29 years, I wore hearing aids and was mainstreamed in school. For 7 months I have wore bilateral cochlear implants.

For the past 7 months, I have reached out to the Deaf Community for a chance to connect with others. I have found the good, the bad and the ugly. "The Good" is fantastic. A great group of people who see me not my CIs, not my lack of hearing, but me. "The bad" passes judgement based on my use of technology. "The ugly" is just that ugly - there is not other word that describes how they make me feel. It hurts. I refuse to let others pass judgement on me because of my choices. I refuse to let others pass judgement on parents for trying to be parents.

Yes, there are some terrible parents. I have sent parents to jail for sexual abuse. I attended three funerals in the last year for parents who "forgot" to give their children medicine for asthma or seizures. I watched a parent take off his belt and beat his child in my classroom. But I also cried with a parent who buried her son after he died of a heart attack at Disney World. I helped a parent find affordable housing and a job to get out of a relationship. I cried when parents came home from Iraq and hugged their children for the first time in 15 months. I celebrated birthdays and holidays with families. I excited children to learn. I watched fantastic parents raise great children. These parents are not too proud to ask for help and they are not too proud to cry with you and celebrate as well.

Maybe I need to not be so focused on Deaf Community. Maybe I need to remember I want to be involve in the Human Community. I want positive, great people to be around. Join or stay within your own community. Thank you Jodi for your words. You always make me think and go hmmmmm..
Valerie

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

Val...THAT was beautiful. I would DIE for my son to have you as his teacher...Thank you for sharing your experiences and heartfelt words here for others to learn from and become better people. YOU are a true teacher. love, Jodi

Karen Mayes said...

Val, wow... your comment is a very heartfelt one.

Yes, we keep forgetting that we all are human beings FIRST....not deaf.

Thanks for reminding us...

Divided said...

Oh my, what a blog today!! To KL, White Ghost, Karen, MZ, KI, CKatz & Val...I sentiment your comments. Kiss fist you all!!!

Rachel...bravo! A young girl so full of life and success. She's definitely a success story for one who received CI at a young age. Kudos to her parents for making the correct decision for her. No doubt, she'll succeed at anything she does. I would be happy if everyone has the same success story as Rachel...she does not fit in the deaf world and that's OK.

but sadly, that's not the case with many others. There untold stories that you won't hear at any convention about those who did not succeed. We tend to accentuate the positive and negatives are usually swept under the carpet ...and remain unheard & untold.

Parents need to be made aware of all options that are available and decide for themselves what may be the best option for their child (often parents base their decision on what is best for them and that's not necessarily the best). We (the deaf community) do not say that all deaf babies should not be given auditory training...but we say add ASL to communicate with your child and see what works best for the child. What does AGBell say?? Banish using ASL or any visual language....why?? why?? why?? Does this really prevent the child from speaking and listening well?? C'mon...the truth now!!

In my 58 years of existence on this earthly life...I have yet to see that visual information impedes auditory development. The deaf community is my life (I am 2nd generation deaf, went to deaf school til I was 9 yrs old then transferred to public school without interpreters only because I could hear well enough to function in public school...I have 55 db loss in both ears and wear one hearing aid)...I still hear and speak as well...haven't loss my ability to speak because I sign with my husband, friends and children ALL the time. I LOVE music...and yes, I talk to hearing people, without problems. I was raised using ASL first before I spoke my first word at age 3...don't see myself any different from those who received strictly auditory training...

humm...who says that visual information impedes auditory development? Is there evidence of that? Pray tell cuz I can't find it.

Mike McConnell said...

divided,

What age were you when you got your first hearing aid? And, today, do you have any problems using the phone with anyone?

K.L. said...

Divided,
I cannot answer that. Here is what I do know. AVT has proven successful for CI kids who were implanted early. Now, that being said, my husband and I started our daughter out with TC and SEE, so we could say and sign the same things. My logic told me that she would understand the verbal words faster if she could hear them at the same time she saw the familiar sign.

My speech therapist at the time told me that the TC kids got off to the fastest start, but that the AV kids did not plateau and the TC kids did. (spoken English). So we allowed the sign language to slowly drop as she got better with verbal language, and no longer needed the sign. Kind of a cobbed together approach, but it worked for us.

Divided said...

Mike...being born to deaf parents and an older deaf sister, my parents thought I was deaf as well. I was fitted with a body type hearing aid for the first time at age 3 when I was enrolled in deaf school in NYC (the school, at that time, emphasized on speech training in classroom and we used signs outside the classroom). I didn't utter a word til after I was sent to the school at 3 yrs old but I signed ASL quite well.
I have no problems using the phone (without amplification) with most anyone. Just a few who whispers or mumble words or talks too fast.


KI...I can see where AVT would be great for those who need to learn to listen and speak. Here's where you are different from some others I've read about...you were open to learning and using sign language (TC and SEE) and eventually, dropped using sign language. TC...signing and speaking is like thinking in German and speaking French...not an easy thing to do and one does not "sound intellectual" trying to talk using 2 language simultaneously. I can sign ASL and speak at the same time but I don't come off sounding what I mean. I much prefer to either sign ASL or talk....and will not do TC...not ever!!! anymore!!! It's not natural. I will only do this in certain situation but never when I'm making professional presentation. I will choose one language be it ASL or spoken...depending on my audience. However, I am much more comfortable using ASL than the spoken word because that's my first language. I express myself better in ASL. Just as my husband does expressing himself in his first language which is in German, rather than English (and he is hard of hearing and also uses ASL as his primary mode of communication).

Divided said...

KI (or is it KL...sorry)....geez, I just re-read my comments to you and saw that I rambled on about TC and got off the point. That happens to me ...a lot!! grin

What I tried to say was you were open to learning and trying different methods and that was great about you...being open and you went the way that worked best for your child and when you saw that your child was successful auditorily...you eventually dropped sign language because the child no longer needed it. Kudos to you and your child. I wish nothing but success for your child.

What I'm saying is every parent should pursue learning ASL and start using it while they are exploring other possibilities such as CI and the like. Begin communicating with your babies from DAY ONE.....not from when you find out that the CI or hearing aid fails and the child cannot utter words out of his/her mouth. By that time...precious time has been wasted on training the child to learn to speak when you could have fun playing and teaching your child new words...through ASL until you see what works best. Is that such a bad thing to do??

Hearing and deaf babies get such a kick out of visual stimulation. We all know that...we're always making faces...goo goo, gaa gaa, hee hee, baa baa, wheee whee
This is where it gets painful for me... to hear others say that sign language is "not good" for your deaf babies. Has sign language actually hurt anyone...NO, only those who did not receive adequate communication at home and/or school. It wasn't sign language but those who were trying to teach them using auditory method when the deaf child could not comprehend in class or home.

Oh geez, here I go again..rambling on. Maybe I ought to change my name from Divided to Rambling thoughts.. :) I choose divided because I am divided between the deaf and hearing world that I live in.

Lisa C. said...

Hurricane Rachel?! Where? When will it happen? Didn't see it in the news.



(chuckle)

Loudest Mom said...

Jodi (and RACHEL :)-

Rachel, you make my heart happy :) Coming from the mom to four deaf/HOH children. Thank you for sharing your experience,

Melissa

K.L. said...

Hi Divided,
My experience with Signing Exact English and speaking, was that it was actually pretty easy. At least for little ones with simple language. I could sign preschool age stuff fairly well. And since I was signing the same words as I was speaking, it was just slower than speaking by itself. And that was actually good. I could never have signed ASL and tried to speak. As you said, two different languages.

Mike McConnell said...

Divided, thanks. I guess that means you have a cell phone that you use regularly (speaking and talking)?

Interesting that you have a 55 dB loss and have no problem and mine is a 71 dB loss and I have no problem with the phone (without amplification) and I do not use the t-coil, either. I was fitted with a hearing aid at age 2 but it was in the wrong ear (my left is around 95) and put in my right ear several months later (1967 or so). I think it is fortunate that your parents fitted you early on to take advantage of that crucial "window of opportunity" to develop your auditory skill.

Divided said...

Mike,
Yes, I do have a cell phone and blackberry (that I use for my business that I do on contract). I'm not much on using voice phone because I do have to ask to repeat now and then. I like using my blackberry but then I've never been much on chatting...only using it when necessary.
I wear my hearing aid on my "bad" ear which has about 55db loss. my good ear is about 50 db loss, the last time I had it checked few years back. When people talk with me they're often shocked when I say that I am deaf and comment that I speak so well. I used to say I am hard of hearing but not anymore. I'm deaf to a degree and I feel that hearing population needs to be educated that there are different degree of hearing loss. Also, I was raised in a deaf community and have that in my "soul" if you get my meaning.
Yeah, the school (Lexington School for the Deaf) fitted me with the hearing aid and I was trained early on to develop my auditory skills. I interpreted for my parents quite often and they installed a telephone in our house just so I could use it when I was 12 years old. They made me practice with my other deaf friend who could use the phone and we'd call each other. Funny, when I look back. But...my experience in public school was not positive as the other kids would always mock me...I often wished I had stayed in Lexington and think I would have had better role models there. I would have had more friends too.

k.l....you're right, it is easier to use TC with young kids when you're teaching them sign language and to recognize speech. Agree with you. :)

Mike McConnell said...

Divided,
gee, too bad you had some bad experiences while in public school. Mine was full of good memories and all positive experiences..all the way from 4th grade up to the 12th grade. Prior to that it was at first an oral school, then mainstreamed and then starting at the 4th grade regular public school.

I use my phones extensively at work, even do conference phone calls as well.

Divided said...

Mike...although I didn't have the most wonderful experience in public school, I lived my life to the fullest in the 60's and had a blast with friends (both deaf and hearing). Then in 68' I went to Gallaudet then my life changed again...and it was great then and ended up working at Gallaudet for 30 years til I retired in 2004.
I used the phone quite extensively when I was employed and met with both deaf and hearing professionals in my career. I remember you as a student at Gallaudet. You and I have had different upbringing and exposure to ASL...even though we both have similar abilities to hear, speak and sign. It's a small world...for sure! :)

Mike McConnell said...

4Hey, no fair. I don't even know who you are, Divided!

:p

Divided said...

:) Grinning....be glad to email you. Disappointed that you've put your blog on hiatus for the time being. So, now I gotta dig for your email addy.