Yes they do.
They also live in a Christian, Atheist, republican, democrat, black, white, gay, straight, fat, skinny, short, tall world. They live in a world full of different cultures and yes, languages. They live in a world full of ignorance and enlightenment.
I do not see any point in trying to make my Deaf son more like others. In fact I am joyful in his unique presence in this world.
This world that I believe has room for all of us.
I guess this is on my mind because of a text I received from my son at 3:17pm,
"Hey, I wasn't suppose to be here til 6:30"
Me: "OK, I will come get u"
Him: "No don't I'm fine"
Why is that so interesting?
Well he is in the middle of six day rehearsals for a play at his school. His school is only a few blocks away from our house. He is the only middle school principal character and the only Deaf student at this school. Tonight he arrived on time at 3pm for the start of the rehearsal day but 3 1/2 hours early for his scenes. The interpreters don't arrive until 6:30. So my Deaf son wanted to hang out at rehearsal with no interpreters rather than come home.
He comes tumbling out of every rehearsal goofing off with his high school friends. He is usually in one of the last groups of kids to leave and I always see the interpreters leave well before him. My Deaf son is a native ASL signer with no speech (well he does say poop) and yet he manages to find a place for himself in the Hearing world. He doesn't do this by trying to act hearing or by changing who he is. He does this by being exactly who he is.
So my Deaf kid has chosen for now to live mostly in the hearing world because that is where he gets to live an artistic life. That is where he is finding artistic peers. Of course we feel grateful that this school exists. He wears his deafness as a matter of fact. I never imagined this would be his path but I am joyful he has the power to chose on his terms.
About 4 years ago......
We always made sure our son had what we couldn't give him because of the simple fact that we are not deaf. He attended a deaf school and we socialize with Deaf families. We have depended on this for years and it was a family choice. When he was about 8 he started to get bored at school. By the time he was nine he had many interests he didn't share with the other kids. By 5th grade it was very clear he needed a change. It is important to note the Deaf community had been telling me this since he was 8 but I just couldn't imagine him being happy without his community close by. I lived in fear that he would be isolated or worse yet bullied by the hearing kids. What I now know is that because he has a strong Deaf community and was raised with his Deaf self being accepted he is very confident so when he goes out into the Hearing world he presents Haddy not deaf. He has lived a life so far knowing his deafness is just part of him so it doesn't hold him back. We are very aware that the school he attends is special but so is he.
His path is his own. Not all deaf children will choose this direction but it is a beautiful thing when they are respected for the choices they make. It is a beautiful thing when they are allowed to follow their path.