Saturday, November 7, 2009

I Hate Car Alarms

About 8 years ago....

On Saturdays during the summer my family would always set out on an adventure. One such day found us in Santa Monica shopping. We had stopped at an outdoor ice cream shop for a snack. My son was trying convince me to invite his friend for a sleep over and it was beginning to be a bit of a whiny exchange when I said no. I looked out on the sidewalk and saw a mother of a child that attended the same Bi/bi preschool as my son. I invited her to join us. I was relieved to have a distraction because to be honest my son was driving me nuts. Yes, even though I love him to bits and he is amazing he is a typical kid and I am a typical mom and sometimes he would whine and I would get frustrated.

We started our conversation with the usual polite inquiries. How is your family? Enjoying your summer? I was a wee bit frustrated that she wasn't signing so I had to interpret the whole conversation. My pleasant distraction was not helping by talking.

I asked if her son was excited for school to start.

She said she realized her son wanted to hear.

She was going to transfer him to the oral program because of a car alarm. He had responded to a car alarm and based on that he would go to an oral class,

based on that the district would honor her wishes and support her decision

based on that she would stop signing,

based on that he was now cut off from the deaf community

based on that he would most likely not have a naturally acquired native language

based on that he would struggle to grasp English

based on that he would most likely have academic and social delays

based on that people would blame the delays on the child and his deafness, my guess is at the age of four he really didn't want to hear

and based on that I hate car alarms.

Today, historically from what I have seen......

I was surprised that a lot of the deaf kids at the state deaf school where so behind their hearing peers academically. I knew most of them from volunteering and they were smart, creative kids. There were only a handful of kids in elementary but many more in the upper grades. The answer, they tell me is because many mainstream to begin with and the families often don't sign much so by the time they reach middle school or high school they are labeled as failures and shipped off to the deaf school to undo the damage.

At the deaf school they maybe find community for the first time. They are often taught by educated deaf adults who understand how they can easily access the curriculum. They can socialize in the comfort of their accessible language and have deaf adults to model culture, humor and folklore.

I often daydream and think what if? So what if the family starts signing early, in fact all families? What if they are supported with speech,English, ASL, and community. What if the parents are introduced to the world they have entered with their child by someone who has first hand knowledge? What if because they had this support they will enter the world on equal terms? What if the reverse happens and they mainstream later and find success? What if they stay at the deaf school and still find success?What if we let go a bit? What if we give up a wee bit of control?

Everything I post is just my feelings from raising my deaf son. I am posting for my son to understand his history and family. I in no way wish to upset anyone.


  1. Every parent will have to think after reading this. In switching to the oral/auditory method, it is good that parents consider what they are giving up as well as what they are gaining.

    Among the things they are giving up is the reassurance that one is not alone, that one is okay just as one is, that being Deaf is simply a characteristic that makes one unique and interesting.

    It's fine that one learns oral skills and useful that one learns to make do with whatever hearing one has. It shouldn't have to be at the price of giving up the rest of what the Deaf Community has to offer. I wish more parents were as forward thinking as you.

  2. I love your blog! Thanks for the thoughtful post. I wonder what happened to that child.

  3. From your very first blog I read, I knew I wouldn't want to miss the rest of your blogs ever since because you really understand Deaf's first language being ASL, culture, etc. Every blog, I felt like I was in the room with you and your son.
    You really do a very fanastic job with your son. I would show this blog to every parent of deaf babies to see nothing is wrong with raising a deaf child with trial and error.
    My parents sent me to oral deaf school knowing I won't master my speech skills while they were searching for other deaf schools out of state. We live in Connecticut. There were only two deaf schools, one was oral which had closed back in '80 and other is all exclusively deaf which is American School for the Deaf, the first oldest deaf school of America. They put me on the waiting list at three deaf schools in NYC that never happen. (however, that waiting list in one of deaf schools opened up on my junior year which was too late) Yeah, that was most unfortunate. But I was very fortunate and thankful to my mom who pushed me to read the books. She kept pushing, pushing, pushing me to read. I love to read and never stop reading ever since. That's how I got the best education ever because we all knew I would fail at my oral school if my mom hadn't pushed me to read. Most of kids at my oral school failed miserably at English, Reading. Whose fault was it? It was oral school's system that failed the kids because they kept focusing on teaching them how to talk and read the lips, that's that. I could talk pretty well that surprised my parents.
    Now my mom and I discussed about my oral school. She said she regrets that she ever send me there and should have fought hard to send me to one of deaf schools in NYC when I was younger.
    Sorry I'm talking too much here, haha.
    Insane Misha

  4. WOW! What a powerful post! :-)

  5. So, I am a hearing parent of a Deaf child. My daughter recently got a CI. She has been raised with ASL as her first language, been a part of the Deaf community, and attended a bi-bi school since age 3.

    But since she received her CI, SHE has asked to attend and oral only school. SHE wants to speak, and she has stopped signing and asked us to stop as well.

    What is a parent supposed to do? Clearly we have to follow her lead, and we have allowed her to attend the oral school.

    She is not academically or socially delayed. She doesn't have to be cut off from the Deaf community. She does have a naturally acquired native language, but now she has two. She is learning to read, and yes it is a struggle, but it was a struggle when she was learning it as a second language through ASL.

    She really DID want to hear.

    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.

  6. To wakeup early in the morning with out an alarm it's difficult.I always make alarm when i wants to wakeup early in the morning.From this i always wakeup early in the morning and never gating late.

    r4 dsi