Wednesday, April 21, 2004

As alluded to earlier in this blog, I was reading "Deaf Like Me", by Thomas and James Spradley earlier in the month of April. I finished "Deaf like Me" last weekend. A moving journal of the early life experience of a girl born deaf and her struggles with the Oral Method, and her eventual introduction (thank goodness while she was still quite young) to signing and an integrated approach to learning language and communication. Having an education in teaching ESL, with an emphasis on linguistic theory, I am interested in the linguistics aspects of language acquisition, and the communicative adaptations of the deaf child. It seems so very important that all children learn as soon as possible to communicate, and I spent some time gasping and even shed some angry tears as I read this book. To keep the children from learning sign, and even from making gestures to each other seems the height of arrogance and cruelty. It was only natural that deaf children seemed to have emotional outbursts. I can't even imagine the frustration of not being able to communicate at all, and having the adults around me enforce a draconian system of control over my every impulse. That this little girl grew strong and was able to lead her life happily was the miracle of having parents who dared to inquire further than the "experts" wanted them to look. I would recommend this book to everyone. It is not only a window into the life of a family with a deaf child, it is a window into the lives of any family confronted with a child for whom the educational system has decided upon a "recommended plan." It is important to remain a questioning, informed and brave advocate for yourself and your family.

I read the book as a balance to the materials (propaganda) put out by the proponents of a totally Oral Method of educating the deaf. There are as many opinions as there are theories, but in the final analysis I would think that any method of communication which will enable a person to learn, live, communicate and enjoy life has to be welcomed, along with any other methods that help as well. I am the grandmother of a deaf child. Perhaps "hard of hearing" is a better designation, as he can hear better than his original prognosis, and hearing aids seem to be a great help to him now, at the age of two. He has worn them since he was about one year old.

No comments:

Post a Comment