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AMY RUBERL said (I paraphrase) that parents who are deaf would have an easier time communicating with their children whether hearing or deaf because they would all communicate in ASL. However, parents who hear can not communicate with their children who are deaf because the parent's don't know sign language.
Dear Amy and others,
Wait one minute. I think it is important to redefine total communication. Total means "all" and communication = communication. Even a mother and father who hears can use non-verbal communication along with their continued use of speaking to communicate with their young child who is deaf until the parents learn signs and ASL. Don't think that young children can't learn to interpret gestures, self-made signs and all other forms of communication.
I think you parents out there know that you could still communicate with your young child who is deaf by every means possible. We professionals need to encourage parents to do this so that communication is not broken between parents and children. Eventually, with proper support, the parents will accept the responsibilities of the best form of communication they feel is most comfortable for themselves and their children - whether it is aural/oral, total, ASL, Cued Speech, Signed English, etc. But, just as we choose our children's religion, we also should choose our children's language. However, we need to provide parents with all available information to make the best, informed decision for themselves and their child.
Dr. J! at St. John's
I agree that parents must make the choice that is right for them. However, time is of the essence! Young children need consistent language early, time does not allow for much experimentation. Communication style isn't necessarily the issue-- getting language (completely and fully) into the child before a critical period ends.
I know Cathy wants to limit this discussion to techniques -- "how-to's" -- and not branch off into philosophical discussions; however, Dr. J continues to make a number of philosophical assertions, some of which I agree with, some not. I am the adult child of a hard of hearing mother, hard of hearing to deafened myself (grew up mildly hearing impaired), the father of two hard of hearing adult children, the grandfather of two hard of hearing pre-schoolers, and soon-to-be father-again (second marriage later in life). Hearing-impairments run in my family, so there is a good chance that the new one will be minimally hard of hearing. My sister and I have had further loss of hearing as adults.
Yes, parents are important. Back in the early 1970s, I used "parents rights", along with my then-wife, to defend my babies' rights to certain medical care. Using parents' rights can be a great line of defense in meeting the important needs of children. Further, parents are an important part of the well-being of children. And, parents are simply important people.
Nonetheless, I would not go so far as to say that because parents make decision X, that it is the right decision. Parents can err in their decisions. That is part of what makes the responsibilities of parenthood so heavy. We can make decisions ranging from poor to mediocre to good to excellent. We can make flawed choices. That is why it is so important to be as informed as we can be. As the parent of a deaf child, being well-informed has to mean seeking out a variety of deaf adult informants as well.
Not trying to be too picky, but some over-simplification is dangerous too.
Sakuna Gray Ganbari
Seattle, Washington, USA
American Sign Language Instructor
Disability Services Consultation
Student of History, Politics, Society, Politics, et al
On April 24th, Sakuna Gray Ganbari responded to my posting re: parents' choices with their children who are deaf.
I agree with Sakuna Gray Ganbari that parents need to be informed. I believe I tried to emphasize that point. If not, I'll emphasize it now.
I believe a great problem which exists in the area of parents choosing communication styles and programs for their children (esp. infants) who are deaf is the parents' lack of information. We, the professionals in the field, need to be sure that parents receive ALL (emphasis here) available information from a variety of sources regarding the choices they need to make. Furthermore, the parents need support.
Parents will make mistakes; professionals will make mistakes. We need to support our parents and educate them that decisions (especially early in the child's life) may be temporary, and need to be reassessed and changed as is needed and is appropriate.
Too often, parents make the choice which is not the best for their child, and later refuse to change. The bottom line often is denial.
Note: Denial is a normal and accepted part of accepting that your child is not what you originally thought. However, it is necessary to get through the denial, begin to see your child as your child and not as a pair of ears, or a communication style. Once the parents can accept their child as a child who is deaf, then the parents can work towards getting the best programs, schooling, communication mode, etc. for their child.
Well, that's my 2 cents !
Dr. J! @ St. John's
Uploaded by: Yaser Dhaher/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major.