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Differences with Deafness

Key words: Information, Deafness Related Issues, Parenting

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  • Subject: question
  • From: Sheri SGEZANN@KENTVM.KENT.EDU
  • Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 13:38:26 EDT
  • Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Sender: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Hi! I am a Deaf Ed. major here at Kent State. This summer I am taking a course -Nature and Needs of the Hearing Impaired- with Dr. Johnson. One of the topics we're talking about is how the family deals with their child's deafness.There is a question that I would like to ask all of you about this. I was hoping that some of you could respond in order to give me different ideas of what to do.

    Here's the question:

    What can I do as a (future) teacher of the Hearing Impaired to help parents understand and VALUE the difference that deafness causes in a child?

    I would really appreciate any feedback to help me grasp a better understanding of this area. Thank you ahead of time. - Sheri Gezann

    Document 2 of 5

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  • Subject: Re: question
  • From: _namestephanie M KOVALCIK_S@HCCAI.HCCA.OHIO.GOV
  • Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 14:51:53 -0500
  • In-Reply-To: Your message dated "Wed, 28 Jun 1995 13:38:26 -0400 (EDT)" <EDUDEAF%95062813490824@UKCC.UKY.EDU>
  • Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Sender: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • What can I do to help the parents understand and value the difference that deafness causes in a child?

    I am not sure that I like the way you phrased your question. However, I think I grasp its essence. Working with parents is always important. When I worked with preschoolers, it was extremely difficult to work with the children if the parents did not back me up. I spent a great deal of time gently informing these parents about deafness and their child's progress. I had to take each family as a family, unique and worthy. I found that the best way for me was to develop relationship with the parents. I had to learn when to broach certain subjects and when to let parents incubate on new information. Some families need to hear things many times before they can accept them.

    As for the differences caused by deafness. . . those differences at times are so individual that I tend to show the parents what is possible given their child's progress. I introduce them to deaf adults if possible.

    My greatest challenge has been dealing with parents who are still waiting for the miracle. I just keep plugging away.

    Stephanie M. Kovalcik
    Cincinnati, Ohio

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  • Subject: Reply: Families of children who are deaf
  • From: "LUCKER, JAY" LUCKERJ@SJUMUSIC.STJOHNS.EDU
  • Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 11:58:34 EDT
  • In-Reply-To: In reply to your message of WED 28 JUN 1995 13:38:26 EDT
  • Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Sender: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Dear Sheri,

    It's great to hear future teachers of the deaf being interested in the whole child, which includes the family. I'd like to offer one person's view (that's my view) about families of children with any special needs.

    The real concern I believe is to help the family learn to appreciate their child who is their child. For me, the deafness comes second. Would you ask the parents of a child with normal hearing to appreciate their child's normal hearing ? No ! But, you would hope and try to help parents appreciate their child ! ! !

    For me, the important thing is that these parents have children who just happen to be deaf. First, they must learn to accept fully their child as their child. They need to appreciate *all* factors related to their child, his/her achievements, growth, problems, etc. In so doing, they will view their child as a whole person and not just as "two deaf ears."

    Once parents can accept their child as a whole person, they will more readily accept their child's special needs. To bring this away from the emotional topic of deafness, consider having a child who excels in the arts. The child is a prodigy Picasso at the age of 3. How would you approach this child ? Would your world be centered on art ? Would everything you do be related just to art and this child ? *No!* Not me. I would appreciate all factors related to my child, and especially, exceptionally appreciate the special factors that add to make my child special - he/she excels in art ! I would encourage his/her development of art and art-related skills.

    Now, substitute deaf in the above for the word "art." This is what I strongly believe we need to help parents understand and accept. Their child is their beautiful child. One factor that adds to this beauty is his/her deafness. Enhance this factor. Allow your child to grow and excel as a person who has this special "factor" called deafness.

    I hope this puts a perspective on your understanding which will be helpful. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me via this list or privately at my email address.

    Dr.J! @ St. John's
    <luckerj@sjumusic.stjohns.edu>

    Document 4 of 5

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  • Subject: Re: question
  • From: Karen McComas MCCOMAS@MARSHALL.EDU
  • Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 17:14:21 -0400
  • In-Reply-To: Your message dated "Wed, 28 Jun 1995 13:38:26 -0400 (EDT)" <EDUDEAF%95062813490824@UKCC.UKY.EDU>
  • Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Sender: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Sheri,

    First of all, I'm glad you asked. Secondly, my child is not deaf, he has a mild-mod hearing loss. Third, I'd like to stretch your mind a little bit by looking at your question.

    As I read and understand your question, I see that there are several assumptions that are being made. First, that a physical disability causes a difference (of some sort) in a child and that those children without a physical disability, a child is "not different"? The second assumption I see is that parents that have children who are deaf (or h.i.) don't understand and value the uniqueness of their children, as opposed to a teacher who does. There is some research out there that supports those who believe that parents know what is best for their children and that schools should listen to parents more frequently and rely upon testing less frequently. In some areas where educational "revolutions" are taking place, they are being led by parents who are no longer willing to sit back and be patronized by administrators/teachers who say "we know best." Having been personally patronized in that manner, I can understand the dissatisfaction expressed by many parents.

    Now, having pointed out the assumptions that seem to support your question, I want to say (as my first sentence in this note said), I'm glad you asked, because I believe that by asking you are able to gain more information about parents/children/teachers, etc. Your intent is admirable. I'd like to pose an alternate question (or two): What can the teacher do to help parents better understand the nature of hearing and hearing impairments/deafness? What can the parents do to help the teacher better understand and value the unique personality under their care every day?

    (I just KNOW that the next post will point out the underlying assumptions in my questions, but go ahead...I think it is important, in order to learn, to understand)

    :.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:
    Karen L. McComas
    Communication Disorders, Marshall University
    Huntington, WV 25755-2634
    URL: http://www.marshall.edu/~mccomas/index.html
    More info? finger mccomas@marshall.edu

    Document 5 of 5

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  • Subject: Re: question
  • From: Donald Grushkin GRUSHKIN@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
  • Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 22:24:25 -0700
  • Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Sender: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education EDUDEAF@UKCC.UKY.EDU
  • Karen's posting, as she suspected, is a controversial one. She questions whether a deaf/hard of hearing child should be viewed as having a "difference" or is the same as other kids, with individual characteristics to be nurtured or modified or whatever.

    While I understand in Karen's case, her child is mild-mod HOH, most of us are thinking about the more profoundly deaf kids that we are (most of us) working with (although we need to think about the HOH too).

    The controversial aspect of Karen's comments comes here... For the last 100+ years at least, since the Milan conference, educators of the deaf and HOH have attempted to "eliminate" the difference of deafness by making them as much like hearing people as possible, I.E., making them speak, banning the use of signs, etc. In more recent years, Deaf people have fought to be recognized as not "hearing", but as DEAF people, with their own language, culture, etc., even as they co-exist within the larger Hearing society, learn English, etc. Thus, the Deaf have worked at getting educators and the Hearing society to see deafness as a DIFFERENCE, not a DEFICIT. I think (this is how I interpreted it, anyway) this is what the original poster of this thread was trying to say...she wants to be able to support the deaf/HOH as different, with different ways of being.

    To view deafness as a difference does not mean that we must view them as deficient, nor does it mean that radically different ways of teaching them must be used. Once a deaf child is provided with accessible language (read: ASL --- I know you won't like me saying this, Cathy :-) ), the linguistic difference of just about any deaf child disappears. At this time, the child becomes just like any other...it is with instruction in ASL that we can work with deaf/HOH children as "individuals", which should be the case for any child.

    I know that parents want what is best for their child, but one must remember... in some cases, parents, although with good intentions, may deny what is in actuality the best thing for their child, in their desperate wishes for their child to be "just like them" -- "hearing". On the other hand, I also know that for a long time, educators too have been just as wrong-headed about "what is best" for deaf/HOH kids. We cannot go back to the days when educators were "always right", but I fear that the current swing to the other extreme, which champions "Parents' Rights", culminating in "Full Inclusion", is just as bad for most of the Deaf/HOH kids as past educational practices have been.

    This is only an opinion here, but I also feel that sometimes, "doing what is best for the individual child" is only another euphemism for engaging in educational practices that will in the long run, be to the child's detriment.

    Now, in Karen's case, the fact that her child has such a low degree of hearing loss is a sign to me that he/she may be able to function closer to the "Hearing" norm, which allows Karen the luxury of saying "look at the individual", but unfortunately, I have seen and am seeing many children fall behind because their parents wanted to "think individually". I think it is possible to balance the concepts of doing what is best for the "individual" child, and what is best for the child who is deaf in general, but this is going to require a change in how deafness and the society's perceptions of deafness are perceived.

    At this time, I don't have any suggestions for how this balance can be achieved, but I hope it can. One way is (IMO) to think bilingually and biculturally: We have to start looking at ALL deaf (and HOH) kids as natural bilinguals and biculturals: they will have and need two languages (ASL and English) and will (if exposed to BOTH environments EQUALLY), become bicultural members of both societies, although some to a lesser or greater extreme, depending on the individual characteristics of the person.

    This is not intended as a flame, just as an attempt at clarification (and discussion) of statements made on this list.

    --Don Grushkin

    Uploaded by: Melissa Close/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major