Tuesday, April 21, 2009
AFA: Hearing Mother of Deaf child speaks out!
Beth speaks out at International Day of Deaf people and Sign Language in
Norfolk, VA. September 29, 2007
(Voice of Beth's speech)
Hello my name is Beth and I am the proud hearing Mom to Lily age 2 years, 7 months and Deaf. I was living in Ocean City, Maryland at the time that Lily was diagnosed as having moderate to severe hearing loss. I am thankful Lily was diagnosed in MD because the first Audiologist she encountered encouraged me to learn sign. He told me that was the most important thing I could do for my child is to give her a visual language. He told me no matter what technology is here today that Deaf children need ASL as a first language. I am so thankful he was referred to me first. The Maryland School for the Deaf would drive 2 ½ hours each week to do home visits. My life would be different today if I was exposed to Audio Verbal Therapy and oral training. Although that is not the case in Hampton Roads!
I moved to Suffolk for family support in May of 2006 and hoping I could find more resources for my daughter. I have been climbing an uphill battle since I have moved here. Lily is being raised with ASL as her first language and English as a second language. I also want Lily to know about Deaf Culture and history. I want my daughter to be proud of what other Deaf have done so that her life is better today than their’s was. I want her to know that being Deaf is a part of who she is and she can be proud to be Deaf. I also want her to know that she comes from a hearing family that is loving and ready to make a commitment to her by learning American Sign Language. We hearing folk aren’t so bad but give us a chance We hearing parents, are too, learning.
I am reaching out to all Deaf in Hampton Roads because we need a change. My support has been given to me through the Deaf community. Most of my networking resources have been passed to me through Deaf individuals. Please keep it up but we have a lot of work to do!
Little has been given to me through early intervention programs,,, this just proves how dire our need is!
In a perfect world when you are told your child is Deaf you would get to meet Deaf adults to understand their perspective. Parents are pushed by the doctors but yet many hearing parents with a Deaf child have never met a Deaf adult. That is very sad and we need to change that current situation. I knew very little until I met a Deaf adult.I was very blessed to have my daughter diagnosed in MD Because of this knowledge of what a hearing parent needs to know…. I needed to know that that most important thing you can give a child… any child…is the gift of language…a language both she and I understand… a visual language and that is American Sign Language…
But you must understand what hearing parents go through….
Hearing Mom, don’t teach your Deaf child sign “they will never be normal” or “AVT will only make your Deaf child normal” I have heard this from several doctors in the area. Also, because I have made the decision to NOT implant Lily with a Cochlear Implant, The doctors have made me feel like I am committing child abuse. They have told me so,I am abusing my child because I opted NOT to have her implanted with a cochlear implant. I am happy to say we don’t see those doctors anymore.
Here is my issue with the Cochlear Implants and Lily. She is responding at 30 dbs with her hearing aides she is maximizing on her residual hearing but yet they want to implant her. Lily has a medical condition that will one day make her profoundly Deaf so they want to implant her now under that assumption. They are so eager to implant her… yet I resist this major brain operation…. This intrusive, invasive, brain surgery… I cherish my child as a whole being… I chose ASL instead. My daughter is bright, she’s brilliant, she’s capable of so much…. But those who don’t recognize ASL while never know.
The big issue is the education of Deaf and HOH kids. The state of Deaf education in Hampton Roads is unacceptable. I have fought and fought only to be turned down in spite of IDEA laws…I dream of a Charter School,,, a central school for all the Deaf and HOH kids, so they could all be together in Hampton Roads. I fully support Residential Schools but we need some other options in VA but I, like many parents, wont sed my child away….. I want these benefits here, now, for my deaf child.. Lily is a brilliant Deaf child and she deserves to be able to have access to everything a hearing child has. She will, one day, be leading this county to a brighter, more beautiful, equitable future.
Yes I want to hear my daughter speak and that is the natural inclination of all hearing parents.. English is my first language, I want it to be hers, too. We all want sameness and hearing parents are frightened by differences in language. I have come to accept that my child is different and she is a child of visual learning… she will always be a “child of the eye” – her natural access to language is through her eyes, thus she learns through American Sign Language.
Hearing Lily speak is not the issue The issue is literacy. Lily’s speech might never be perfect but she needs to be able to read and write at an age appropriate level. That is my goal! But a school system that graduates a deaf child at a 4th grade reading level is one that has not only fail deaf children before Lily, but is already set up to fail my daughter.
Now here I stand and this is the battle I face for Lily and all the Deaf and HOH kids out there. I am desperately trying to make a change but this is a difficult battle and we need YOUR HELP.
“No children left behind” is an oxymoron………….All Deaf children are being left behind and will be continued to be left behind. I am determined to make sure that Lily will not be one of those children. She will not be left behind!!!!!