Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dear Miss Kat's Parents

Dear Miss Kat's Parents,
Thank you for your comment on my recent post about car alarms. I realized when I read it that folks may not understand my point. So I will try and clear that up. I tend to have a certain style of writing that is not always a point by point presentation. I am writing this for my son and if I were to do that he would be asleep in seconds. I am leaving thoughts for him to ponder that are my own based on my own experience. I can not change what I felt back then and I am sorry if my opinions at that time frustrate you more. I realize that my blog is public so I wish to approach it with great care.

I don't know you or your daughter just as you don't know my family. Judging from your comment I am guessing (since I don't know you I am left to guess) that I represent a type of person you know. Perhaps a type that frustrates you and doesn't see you working so hard to what is best for her child. Perhaps this type of person just doesn't get how you did give your daughter a native language etc. I am sorry for this. I try to only post my opinions on things I experience first hand.

About the post I hope this helps,

Quote from your comment

"Please don't paint all parents with children who are learning spoken language with the same brush. Unless you have lived with their children, and know them, you can not judge."

I should have clearly stated my point.
*note to my son, this is the kind of writing I do that bores you, feel free to go make a sandwich and tune in later*

This woman had very little in the way of clear information. She was so desperate for her son to hear she took the slightest hint that he could respond to sound to make a serious decision.

The mother in this post does not resemble you at all. She had limited ASL skills, her son did not have a CI (that is is just a fact and not an opinion on CIs) and his only real access to language was at school. Since unlike your daughter I knew him well I did know he did not respond to any sound from what I could tell. His mother talked at him so I imagine if he had the critical thinking skills to wrestle with the complex idea of hearing he may have had an opinion. Since he had not fluent language or the age to develop critical thinking skills that would be a super hero task in my opinion. He did not try and express himself with speech. My own son however does respond to the vibration of a car alarm. This mother told me that the specific reason she was going oral was because he responded to a car alarm. I did later see him and I chose not to reflect on that but the post was after seeing the outcome.

About the other children in this post, again I don't see how I took a paint brush to your daughter. I know all of the children from the hours of volunteer work I did at the school. They often shared their stories with me. I often interpreted for them to their families at social events. Some did have a CI but their mom's did not resemble you so again I am confused. I read my post again and don't see where I mentioned a family who used ASL, had a bi/bi program (we had one for only 1 1/2 years) has a child with a CI who wants to go to an oral school. So I am sorry if you saw your family in this post.

What I do see is me, a mom who belongs to a very tiny minority of hearing parents who are frustrated. I see a mom who has seen what can happen when a child is given no language naturally.

What is a bit sad to me is that I have read your blog and I am sure if we met you would find I am not the person your think I am in fact we have a lot in common. In my opinion many parents of deaf children would be less frustrated if they reached out to each other. That is a can of worms though. This also makes me wonder how you decided to read my blog. I assumed my demographic to be few Deaf adults, bi/bi parents ( I guess that would be about 2% of parents of deaf children and maybe 2 would find me), and students. In short I never imagined anyone would take notice since I have been advocating for kids for years and folks just don't care to listen to me. So thanks for reading.

I hope this helps. Sorry to post this so publicly but maybe if I do others that may be lurking can get a clear idea of my perspective. Don't worry my friend nobody listens to me.

Warmest wishes,
Mom just like you


  1. Miss Kat's mom said after her child went to oral school, she asked to stop using ASL at home.

    That surprised me. I believe in taking the initiative from the child in the best way to learn, but not if it means cutting out options such as ASL entirely. It also made me wonder how much the school environment influenced the child.

    From personal experience, teachers often influence peers to support a style. Those who have more advanced skills are given more recognition, so it is natural to want to be like those kids. This is an effective approach that has been used in toilet training, social behavior such as being quiet, cooperativeness and sharing.

    The wise parent keeps all options open for communication and says that all are fine. As the child grows, this can change many times.

  2. I will also speak in generalities.

    I don't think that you are saying these things overtly, but often those who do, use parents like you and I, as foder for their conclusions.

    I believe that ALL parents are trying to do what is right for their children. They want their children to be successful in the future. I have never met a hearing parent who "wants to make their child hearing" or "doesn't accept their child's deafness", which is so often screamed as the reason a parents chooses an oral route. I attended an international sumer program for deaf children that uses an auditory approach, and these parents were not monsters, they were not abusive, and they didn't love their deaf children any less than Deaf parents do. They simply made a different choice.

    I know you are not saying those things, but there are people in the community who are. There are people who say that parents who implant their children are "raping their heads", or that we are performing "genocide". This is so so so wrong.

    Sometimes, when parents make a choice that they believe in, they tend to demonize the other side. I don't think that is right. I think that there are successes and failures on both sides. Everyone needs to decide what is right for THEIR family.

    Yes, my daughter is doing well, but I would never assume that my way is the right way for other deaf children. Another child would fall apart if they had been parented the way we worked with Miss Kat.

    I too believe that we have much in common. I believe that we both are passionate about raising deaf childre. I think that we both believe that ASL should be given to all children with a hearing loss, and that is the choice that we both made for our children. BUT, there are many parents who choose differently, and their children thrive as well.

    I guess I just wanted to say that I get the impression that you believe there is only one "right way" to educate and communcate with a deaf child. (And I believed that once too) But, it isn't true, and I learned that I was wrong.

    Oh, and Miss Kat has stopped refusing to sign. She now asks for clarification in sign, and asks for ASL when she is tired or just doesn't want to sign. It is still in our home every single day. We read books, tell stories, and often just communicate using ASL.

  3. I think nowadays most parents and moderate Deaf people favor a relaxed approach that leaves out no modality and is guided by the child: for no two are alike.

    We still have the diehards who favor only AVT, for example, or the ASL-only route (gee, I can't imagine where they offer that in schools). In programs or families using restricted and exclusionary methods, I feel concern for the children.

    Let's all encourage parents to emulate such as both of you in your balanced and flexible approaches.

  4. This could go on forever so I am going to try and clear it up. This blog is very specifically written about a child who was raised with ASl and written English as a primary mode of communication and the challenges that it presented. It is a way for me to answer questions my son is asking. I state in my first post that I do not believe ours is the only way but have trouble finding other blogs like this to show my son he is not the only child like him. We have already shown him the other side from that perspective. When your daughter is older she may want to talk about your choices.

    There are oodles of programs and services for families that choose a different path and very few for children like my son. In fact only for a very brief time from the age of 3 to 4 1/2 did we have that luxury. That is just the way it is so we patched it together the best we could. This is what my son needed. I have met other children who would have benefited from this approach but for many reasons did not have access to it.

    You commented,

    "I guess I just wanted to say that I get the impression that you believe there is only one "right way" to educate and communcate with a deaf child. (And I believed that once too) But, it isn't true, and I learned that I was wrong."

    I could be wrong but it feels like you want me to believe that. I do not believe this in fact I know many kids from all walks of deaf education and have seen a full range of outcomes. Every child is different so only an idiot would suggest our route is the only way. I just want it to be an option. I commented on your blog awhile back trying to give a bit of positive support.We have always evaluated what is best for our son and are open to change when needed. We teach our son to try and be empathetic to everyone.

    I don't think I should stop telling our story because someone might use it out of context. I have no control over that. I also think it is not relevant for me to talk about the success of other methods here. I believe I need to be true to how it felt back then so my son really understands. So I understand I will maybe offend you and I am sorry.

    Don't worry about me. You are at the very beginning of your story and trust me I know how it feels. A few years down the road a blog like this won't even enter your radar. Families are not going to rush out and follow me so I am not a threat. I am just telling our story nothing else.

    Warm wishes,

  5. Dianrez,
    It sounds to me like Miss Kat's mom has kept all options open. It's the OTHER mom who didn't. I can understand Miss Kat's mom's feelings and why the original post bothered her. But I don't believe Mel meant to seem judgemental.

  6. My son just made a point. He said, 'Mama you are new to the internet, folks can't see your inflection. They will read you as they know their life" He read my posts with an angry voice first then an empathetic voice. Try it.
    I posted with a quiet empathetic voice but if hearing people turn on an angry voice it changes. The part about me stopping can be read as a rant against a mom but I was talking about the first comment about foder. Just an example. Anyway thought it was interesting that my son chimed in on his blog.

  7. I think your son is very wise.

    I apologize if I took you the wrong way.

    It is so hard, because, so many people involved in Deaf ed are so "dogmatic", and, honestly, angry. It is hard to not jump right to "judgement" and then react.

    I am sorry, and I want to say thank you for showing the world that a Deaf child can do great with ASL. We are on the same team, and it is lonely out here.

  8. Lonely out here? I hope not. There's many more in the same philosophical area as you, whether or not they appear in cyberspace.

    As an orally-raised profoundly deaf child, I hope that the mistakes of the past are not forgotten as parents today try for a comprehensive and flexible approach.

    Those who chose the oral-only method in the past believed hearing and speaking were in their child's best interests.

    For children who have strong abilities in those areas, it probably is the best approach, but today flexibility is the best emphasis.