When someone tells you -(Professionals, Teachers, Doctors, and other opinionated people)
YOU HAVE A DEAF CHILD THIS IS WHAT YOU MUST DO...
Their answer is not your answer. It is your Childs’ answer.
This weekend I reflected on our journey (my husband and I) of raising a deaf child. We have searched for answers. The answers for questions that had us crying in the hospital. The stages of grief became our empowered search to meet deaf adults and asked them for their story. Our children do not stay children forever. We knew that our choices would shape her future. We sought after nuggets of truth through others’ experience. My husband and I met deaf adults from many “walks of life.” We knew their parents tried to pick what was best for their child with what they knew then.
We asked them the following questions
How did you grow up?
How did your parents communicate with you?
What did they do right for you?
What do you wish was different?
If you could go back in time and tell your parents what you know now...what would it be?
Are you happy?
These questions are a mirror to the possible choices their parents had decided. Gather as much information as you can. Look for unbiased research. Speak to other families with d/hh kids, meet deaf adults, and know there are NO guarantees.
Success is NOT measured based on how much a child can hear. Faith should not be placed in a medical device. It may fail.
A parent should NOT be faced with the black and white choice of Spoken English or ASL.
I do not expect my child to be your child. You can expect your child to want LOVE, language, communication, and connection.
My child is capable of both. My child has bi-lateral cochlear implants and has bi-cultural values. My child uses spoken language and sign language. My child is confident and comfortable around deaf and hearing people. My child learns through both modes. My child has worked hard to hear what she can and we worked hard to learn sign language. Lily is my child. She is not the Audiologists child, the teacher’s child, the Deaf woman’s child, my next-door neighbor’s child, or your child.
We allowed our child every possible mode to acquire language from VISUAL to SPOKEN to WRITTEN. Sign language never prevented her spoken language with a cochlear implant. Nor is there any scientifically based research to prove otherwise. (That is why baby sign language is working for hearing babies.) We gave her a beautiful VISUAL language that will never fail. We gave her LANGUAGE that is not waiting for a medical device to work. We gave her keys to knowledge. The tool for success does not have to be a single choice. What can you give your child?