I had cause to think back about technology. When we were fighting for services with the school district we had an advocate who was deaf. He was so calm and strong. One of the things he told us was that it was a great time to grow up deaf. I wasn't really sure what he meant because it felt like educators were still in the dark ages.
One area we were grateful for was technology. We had a TTY to communicate with our deaf friends. A light would flash when the phone rang so my son would know what was going on when mom or dad would run fast to get the phone. Imagine how strange it would be if he saw use engaged in an activity and then suddenly springing up tossing pillows on the couch frantically only to garb a plastic thing and start flapping our mouths into it.
Another device we found useful was the door flasher. Before we got it her would go check the front door from time to time. I guess he thought that was a magical way to summon visitors. It worked for mom and dad. They would just walk to the door, open it and a friend would appear.
Relay was helpful but it was startling to hear my 20 year old female babysitter through the voice of a 50 year old smoking operator.
Times were better but still really a lot of challenges would arise. Once we invited a deaf friend for dinner. We offered to pick her up but she declined and chose to take the bus. She got lost. She had to find a clerk at a store and get him to call for help. He had a heavy accent so the whole exchange was confusing. After a long conversation we located her and picked her up. It was 2 hours past the planned time.
All of this technology was great but we had no idea how fast it would change a few years down the road.
Today....... or the social crisis of mainstream middle school
My son has a phone. We got it last year so he could text us. He has VP, Internet with Skype. We found an attachment for his lights with a remote switch so we could let him know to come without having to invade his privacy. He no longer depends on hearing people as a conduit for communication. access
When his was little several hearing teachers told me to realize that although he was doing so well when he got older it would be very difficult for him to enter the hearing world. I was told stories of deaf kids being bullied and not doing well in mainstream schools socially. My husband and I decided direct instruction in ASL and social peers were the route to go. Nothing prepared me for the crisis we are going through now. I was so shocked I hadn't considered this might happen so I hope I am handling it well. This year he is mainstreamed full time in a public school. He is the only deaf child in the entire school ranging 6th-12th grade. Here is what happened,
Last night I went downstairs to see what he was doing on the computer. He usually likes to do research or play games. He is more of a reader though so I never worry. As I turned the corner to view the monitor this is what I saw. (If you have a heart condition you may wish to stop reading at this point.)
My son was texting on his phone, chatting on VP and having multiply chats online all at the same time..... the only deaf person involved was on the VP. The other kids were from his new school. I am sure you understand my shock. I would now have to limit his computer and texting! He has become a social butterfly and I didn't see the warning signs.
For weeks I have been finding kids phone numbers in his pockets. When I go to his school he is always late coming to meet me. Kids will hang out with me to wait for him to come out. He is always chatting to us about school and his friends. His phone goes off during dinner and worse during family time and homework!
We traded phones yesterday and while I was sitting at work with my students at lunch my phone went off. No one texts me so I was shocked to hear the loud jazz music coming from my pocket. I quickly ran to the next room to see if it was my son. No it was a number I didn't recognize. It said, "hi" I responded, "who is this?" . I went and sat down again and it started going nuts. There was a jazz concert in my pocket. Turns out it was lunch at his school and a bunch of his friends were texting him to hang out.
So we are navigating the world of pre teens and technology and have to figure out a plan fast. We will set some limits tonight but for one day we sat back and let him jump in.
The great thing about kids these days is they take ASL at school. Hayden has no problem talking with those kids that do. The other great thing is technology. They no longer sit for hours on the phone. He can join in the fun without any boundary.