i was glad to get there safely. it must have been the rain because everyone was driving like mad men as i made my way to Gallaudet to be on a parent-panel. the purpose of the panel was for the doctorate students and other educators in the field to fully understand the emotional and mental needs of patients and their families when a child is diagnosed with a hearing loss and how to best support them from that point on.
i was fortunate enough to not only share my story, but to hear 6 other accounts of families with deaf children and their perspective on hearing loss, implants, sign language and the deaf community.
being in a deaf environment i had plenty of eye opening experiences on my way to the panel.
- i needed further directions so i rolled down my window and yelled “excuse me!” to the person that was walking away from me, towards their car. after a few more times trying to get their attention, i assumed they were ignoring me only to remember i was on the grounds of a deaf university.
- i had the same luck once i found the student center information desk. i asked where JAC 1011 was and he looked at me and shrugged as if saying, “good question”. i was not getting anywhere, i obviously need to practice my basic signing skills.
it was then i was reminded of how different alexander’s life would be without his cochlear implants. it was only yesterday i yelled across the cul-de-sac to warn alexander of the car coming in his direction. he turned, then looked and ran towards me to safety.
(alexander with his new N5’s. yes, they are trimmed with silver, it is not an option, they all come like that. patient review: he loves them!).
i met amazing people at the parent-panel. there was a broad spectrum, each with their own unique stories of life with raising a deaf child. i was most interested in the families who were deaf, raising hearing and deaf children. what would it be like to be a deaf parent and implant my deaf child knowing they would be apart of my world and another foreign world that i would never know? I sincerely appreciated how they viewed their life as wonderful and never as a handicap.
most of the deaf parents still didn’t feel the need or rush to implant their children. either it was because they believed their child was not old enough to make the decision for themselves or the other reason being the cochlear implant technology was ‘not good enough’ to guarantee success yet. that is an old stereotype it’s been floating through the deaf culture for years. mainly it is the experience of older deaf adults being implanted and not finding success. the technology is not to blame. can i expect a twenty-year-old who has never been educated to write their name beautifully if i give them the best #2 pencil on the market? i struggled with their lack of urgency because as their children grow older it will only be more difficult to teach them spoken English clean enough for society to understand them.
as for me, i still believe with anything in life the earlier the better.