Friday, May 30, 2008
When Listening to the Child Requires Choosing ASL
Posted by a mom on the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle:
My daughter is not a stellar oral child. She is 5 and lipreads a few phrases and
speaks with all her signs but it is mostly unintelligible. Our difference is
that our implant team refuses to do a CI unless we completely drop ASL...we
refuse. (I had never heard this before and was kind of surprised.)
My only insight is that all children are different. Some deaf kids are just not able to learn to speak and listen exclusively, no matter how much we want it.
When my daughter was a little older than 2 we had a highly respected TOD come to
our home and work with us for a few weeks. The second time she came, just as she
was leaving she said "Wow, she is all ASL isn't she! You have yourself a
signer....nothing you do can change that!" She had only had her hearing loss for
about 8 months and it was only 60 db and she was aided to 0!!
Turns out the TOD was right. We do speech and she has been improving, but she just doesn't care all that much. She wears her aids and gets great benefit from them, but not with speech. She sings and vocalizes constantly, she even has sound effects when she plays. We will continue our listening and speech therapy, but our emphasis has
shifted. We recognize that our daughter is fine without speech and that being
happy and having real language is the most important thing, and through ASL and the Deaf community, she has those things.
Our daughter is Deaf. She attends a school and church for the Deaf. Her friends
are all Deaf and we now function inside the Deaf community. My daughter's
identity and personality are intrinsically linked to her Deafness and there is
nothing I can do to change this. I know there are many on this list that do not
feel this way, but that is the path that my daughter has lead us on. We have had
to shift some of our goals and dreams....NOT give them up, just change what they
look like. But for us, this has been our journey.
There has been an interesting thread on the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle regarding progress made with a CI, and I wanted to share this mother's post. Hers and a couple of other parents reinforced the same fundamental concept with regard to choosing communication methods and parenting a deaf child: Listen to the Whole Child, because a child communicates in many ways on many levels.