Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Look out Jenny McCarthy! If there is one person, one "Mother Warrior" who has always encouraged me, provided me with necessary info and links, offered her experience and assistance unconditionally - with great love and passion...that would be VAL BLAKELY! And so, it is with great emotion and pride that I share with everyone who doesn't already know, that VAL has written a new book entitled I'M ALL EARS together with her beloved Speech Therapist Tamara Harrison. We have all seen the incredible Blakely children, a true testimony to the professionalism of Tamara.

I've had the book for about three months...*smile* (can't believe I managed to keep my big trap shut) and feel privileged to have been asked to review this inspirational project that not only tells Val's story with Gage and Brook, but which provides extremely useful information for families raising Deaf children. This was what I wrote:

I'M ALL EARS shares a family's journey in deafness- cochlear implant style and provides readers with a very personal account of difficult decisions, daily struggles and lifestyle changes. This insightful and informative book demonstrates how the cochlear implant combined with a strong family support system and creative and stimulating Auditory-Verbal Therapy has enabled the Blakely childrne to conquer a predominantly hearing world and its many challenges with glowing, yet determined smiles on their faces.

The most beautiful part of the book aside from obviously Gage and Brook is that Val and Tamara have created an important resource for parents of Deaf children by defining difficult terms, offering suggestions for quality Auditory-Verbal Therapy and providing access to support groups. I am honored that she included RALLY CAPS in that list of resources.

Click here to purchase I'M ALL EARS.

Click here to read her official blog announcement. Here is an excerpt from her blog:

I've been asked in the past to please give tissue warnings in some of my blog posts so for those of you who know us personally, this might touch your heart in the beginning so I do give a slight tissue warning for the first half of the book. I will note however that there are stories in there to make you laugh also! It's not intended to be a sad book, just a book of my travel from ignorance to advocacy on this road my children have led me on. It's been hard, it's been amazing, and it's taught me so much! I planned a perfect picnic but didn't consider the weather. Sometimes, it's just better to have your picnic despite the weather and I hope that this book will serve it's help some family somewhere, know that they are not alone.

To view this video with closed-captioning, click here.



Anonymous said...

Congrats Val!

You know what's interesting? I see more hearing parents of C.I. kids writing a book compared to deaf parents of deaf children. I wonder if it has to do with technology? or with the fact that it is a whole new water to be charted by one group than another?


Dianrez said...

Candy, interesting question. I think it's more like one kind of parent changing their kid to be more like themselves and the other kind just accepting their kid as he is. Nothing bookworthy in just raising kids normally as most people have.

The child in the video is aware that they have defective hearing and if he would change anything, it would be to hear.

This shows that the parents have placed a value on hearing and communicated this to the kids.

I don't necessarily say this is a bad thing, but...this is an awfully young age to be aware that one is lacking something that other kids have, and having to defend themselves against other kids "pushing their buttons".

Kids. They learn to roll with the punches of life. The lesson to be learned here is to look for aftereffects of this kind of beginning later when the kids are adults...was it a good thing, or a problematic one? I'd be curious to know and be relieved.

Christian and Lily's Mommy said...

I am so excited to read the book! YEAH VAL!

Naomi said...

"I think it's more like one kind of parent changing their kid to be more like themselves and the other kind just accepting their kid as he is." and this sweeping generalisation is based on what??? Some blog posts, some read comments, come on, it is a pretty lofty soap box to stand on and judge another person, their family and their reasons at face value like that.

Kids push other kids buttons for any number of reasons, red hair, big nose, glasses or a hearing loss, and raising resilient kids is actually a big deal in parenting for all parents these days, deaf or not, so I dont see that as a negative, especially in times where bullying is rampant.

My preference in looking at this would be not "one kind of parent changing their kid to be more like themselves" but rather providing their child with as many opportunities and possibilities as they can.

VBnBama said...

Gage likes to add lib to make his stories more interesting, and I assure you that the buttons on his ci are set exactly the same when he returns home as when I sent him to school. I did question that later w/him and he said they didn't really touch it. Doesn't mean they never will but for now it was just to embellish the story.
**thanks for all the props guys**
and from my view point, and probably many other hearing parents who follow this path...I was forced to sllllloooowww down, breathe deep, be patient...and by doing this I have really got to enjoy a lot of things with/about my kids that I may have missed if they had just been born hearing. I am very thankful for my kids because like I talk about in the book...if my kids had been born hearing and asked me what something is....I would have quickly given an answer and moved on. But by using all the language building tips from AVT, I don't just slow down, I, teach, describe, smell, feel, hear, and so on...on a regular basis with everything we do, at least I try. Had my kids been born hearing, sad but true, I likely wouldn't take that time, and think of what all I would miss. Some of the actual principles of AVT like I described above can be used in any mode, using all the descriptions, discussing each subject more in depth, and it can be used w/hearing kids too, in my opinion...

Dianrez said...

Naomi, Candy had wondered about book writing, and my remark was directed to that...why are hearing parents of CI kids writing books and deaf parents of deaf children not?

Books are written about challenges, which would be exemplified by a hearing parent dealing with a deaf kid through the CI route. It is different than the norm and therefore bookworthy.

Typically, books about disabled children are about bringing them to a level expected by society of normal kids. That is the challenge.
Hearing is considered primary in this society.

In the society where deaf people like myself live, hearing is secondary and other functions still primary: creativity, intellect, knowledge, skills, expressiveness apart from the oral/aural routes, and satisfaction with life. Raising a deaf kid in this society is like raising a hearing kid in the hearing society...nothing unique enough to write a book about.

Anonymous said...

My advice to Candy and Dianrez is to read Val's book. Her story about her kids is extremely unique, and you will definitely find some surprises about her journey with her kids. When you read the story, you will understand why she chose to write the book.

Unknown said...

Dianrez...I believe people write books for different reasons. Regarding the ci books that we've seen: Mine was written because my dad wouldn't leave me alone until we finished it and the character was created to provide children like my son a character with whom they could identify in literature. It was also for the purpose of introducing mainstream society to a person like my son considering he is mainstreamed.
Rachel and Elizabeth's books were written for a couple of different motives - above all to give deaf kids with cis a voice by means of their characters to explain their ci to other very young children - at the same time they are useful av therapy materials.
And Val's book shares her inspirational journey of raising her kids and provides resources and avt techniques for others living similar experiences.
And there are so many more books with Deaf characters who use ASL than those with cis. It's all about sharing experiences...

Unknown said...

One more thing, you said:
In the society where deaf people like myself live, hearing is secondary and other functions still primary: creativity, intellect, knowledge, skills, expressiveness apart from the oral/aural routes, and satisfaction with life. Raising a deaf kid in this society is like raising a hearing kid in the hearing society...nothing unique enough to write a book about.

In the society where I live, ignorance is prevalent, therefore educating children by providing them with characters like my child takes them one step closer to humanity instead of fear of the unknown. Deaf people are a minority and THAT will always be prevalent in the Deaf community,(as I have always seen and been exposed to) don't be so idealistic...I am not. Jodi

Anonymous said...

Well, I didn't mean create anything but, It did come to mind when I was thinking of all of my mom's friends (all are deaf) who has kids (most are deaf) and not one of them wrote a book. So, that thought and question just appeared out of nowhere. I think it is awesome to be writing a book, in fact, I do think it would also be smart for deaf parents to write a book about their deaf kids, too! Because the more you put out there, the more information is out there for new first time parents of deaf/hoh kids to have at their disposal, all kinds of information.

It may be true that parents influence kids' perspective on things. I mean, I grew up thinking nothing of my hearing loss. With the exception, I knew I was somewhat different from my hearing peers. My hearing peers did not see me as being any different from them until they actually find out that I am hard of hearing. I could pass for a hearing person easily until some little flaw stands out, like for example, I said ear instead of year, these kinds of things, but I have learned how to pronounce things correctly over the years with help of my speech therapist and friends and even now, my kids! There's always one or two new words I don't bother to include in my vocabulary because I don't know how to pronounce it. But with great people around me, I've kept growing all these years.

Come to think of it, I could write a book about my life, ya know...

I think it is awesome for you guys to write a book and, yes I definitely will read it. Val's kids have always intrigue me because of their spunk and Jodi's son seems like a cool kid to get to know, all by just reading you guys and watching your videos.


VBnBama said...

Candy, there's plenty of words that I mispronounce and I'm hearing. One person lovingly referred to me as "well writ, but poorly spoke"...and I had to laugh because hey, that's just the way it is. My problem is that I do include them in my vocab, and get corrected w/chuckles to follow usually. Oh, well, at least I can laugh and not get embarrassed. So it does happen to us all.

Abbie said...

I just purchased mine today :)

Anonymous said...

The major contribution to Candy's original question is this: 90% of all deaf children are born to hearing parents! So not only is deaf a minority, born deaf to deaf parents is even more of a minority.
- Barbara

Unknown said...

Thanks, Barb...interesting.