Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Show Pony

This post is just an observation. It is just my rambling thoughts which are not positive or negative.

About 10 years ago.......

One thing that has always been a challenge raising a deaf child is the responsibility cast on my son to perform. With his education professionals and parents are always watching him. From a very young age everything he did was scrutinized. People look at his progress hoping for success or failure depending on their beliefs. He is always on stage. At this early stage of his development I had boxes of documents concerning his growth. They are the party favors from scores of meetings focused on his claim to this world. The evaluations were always stressful because he may have an off day or become bored with the tester.

I asked for an ASL evaluation and was told he was to young. I pressured for it and got my wish. He was almost three years old. The people who administered the test were deaf. There was a teacher from the charter school and an aide. My son was excited to be in the room full of toys but wasn't really in the mood to preform for the teacher and camera. So instead of sitting sweetly answering the questions he wiggled his way under a bench to play hide and seek. The proof of his fluency was my conversations with him trying to convince his to do the test. We were able to finally finish the test after some patient redirection.

I remember the times we would be in hearing environments and he could never just blend in. It was always the quiet center that he was deaf. At this age he wasn't aware that people watched him. If we wanted to go to an avent I had to arrange for an interpreter. Sometimes people would be critical if he got bored and didn't pay attention even though the hearing kids were doing the same thing. Others would be supportive but didn't realize their well meaning questions and attention again brought that focus that makes it hard for him to blend in. If I had to push for accommodation the pressure would be on to make sure we went. If he was having a bad day we had to go anyway because I made such a fuss to get the interpreter.

There were many funny moments. Often when we would go to restaurants people would just feel so comfortable staring at us. We would voice off and they didn't know we could hear them. It is so odd to hear someone talk about you unfiltered. Often folks would just walk up and start to sign. Once a woman was so excited to show off her skills she interrupted us arms flying and started to sign the alphabet. Honestly what are we suppose to do with that? We were always polite but sometimes had the impulse to walk up to strangers and sing the alphabet song at random moments. It was interesting trying to explain to my son why strangers would walk up and spell their name and then just stare blankly.

In many ways our life was typical but there were many ways it just wasn't.


My son lives in a strange world. He is very comfortable being deaf but wishes there were more people like him. He is still having to perform.

When I arranged to go to a play recently he needed to show gratitude for all of the special attention from the theater company. He got to talk to the actors and directer. It was really cool don't get me wrong. He was very happy but really I think he wishes he could just go places and blend into the crowd. It would be nice to just decide on impulse to go see a movie or play.

The school he attends is so welcoming. He does however need to learn what to do when kids walk up and sign "hi". He responds, "hi". Then the other child just stands there. The first day of school everyone swarmed him. They were so excited to have a deaf kid at school. It is kind of like being a foreign exchange student. The other new sixth graders could quietly get oriented. So this is not bad but just much different than the other kids.

He is the only deaf kid and sometimes that is lonely. It would be so cool if a bunch of deaf kids applied to this school but they don't. So we are trying to find ways to stay connected to the deaf world. There is also the pressure of mainstreaming with a mom like me. People thought because of my beleifs he would never mainstream. As always we are just piecing it all together the best we can.

1 comment:

  1. It's very hard, people assume that every choice a parent makes has a political undertone. When we left our bi-bi school people assumed that we believed the bi-bi school was inferior, or that we were going to stop signing. Neither was true, we simply had to follow our child's lead.

    Parents have a responsibilty to educate and advocate for what they believe is right, but our FIRST priority is making sure our child gets what they need to be successful adults.