Tuesday, June 16

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I feel that as a hearing parent with a Deaf child we have so many choices to make that we have no idea how to make! We are constantly told do this or don't do that. Each choice that we have made has had pros and cons and people judging me for the choices that I ended up making. I try not to take it personal, but it's hard...most of the time I end up still second guessing myself and never feeling satisfied with the decision that I made.

I have seen other families go through this also. It is very disheartening and I don't feel like it is going to stop soon. I don't know if it is easier for Deaf parents of Deaf children, I guess since they have been down a path they knows what worked for them and what did not. I do not have any deafness in my family and did not know anyone who had experienced this journey.

Some of the decisions that we and/or other hearing parents have had to make...

1) CI or no CI
2) Mainstream or no mainstream
3) public school or Deaf school
4) Sign or no sign
5) SEE or ASL

Each of these decisions have serious counterparts and I often feel that hearing parents of Deaf children are not given credit for how many decisions we have to make concerning our child. I know since I have friends of other "special needs" children that their choices are more cut and dry. They make choices that are life and death a lot of times. None of the choices above are life and death for our children. Some will make life easier, but then you have to ask yourself - easier for who and why are you really making that decision?

The vision decisions that we have made with Rebecca have been much easier and much more accepted: white cane training, testing, vision training, etc. There is nothing controversial about these items - no one questions what is right for you child when they are going blind. This is what sets Deafness apart from other disabilities and why I have found the correct path for my daughter to be so difficult! When she gets out her white cane everyone knows that she can't see, when she puts on her hearing aids everyone knows that she can't hear, but when she puts on her CI it is different. All of a sudden, hearing people think that she's not Deaf anymore and some Deaf people think that she's not Deaf enough anymore! My daughter is fine with or without her CI and either way, she is still Deaf!! She is at camp for the next 2 weeks and did not take her CI with her - guess what, she's not less Deaf or more Deaf because she does or does not have it. What will happen is that people will be more accepting of her without it there. That saddens me to say, but it's true.

I have talked about how I feel about the CI several times on my blog and I am proud to say that my daughter is fine either way. She is not dependant on her CI. Some situations she prefers to hear the sounds, but is fine without it also. Her voice does not change when she has it on or off, her signing does not change - nothing about her changes!!

I wish the world was more accepting and understanding of the choices that we make for our Deaf children. It's not easy and sometimes I wish it was as easy to make those decisions as it is for my other child or for her vision impairment. I am trying to embrace the decisions that we make and accept them as the best for her, but I don't know how I will truly know what is right until she grows up and tells me for herself. Until then I pray that God will lead my every decision and that we are doing what is best for her and not for ourselves only.


Anonymous said...

What you are going thru with your decision-making, is what a lot of us with Deaf/HOH children experience. My 7.5yo is has a mild-mod hearing loss and is affected by a language disorder. According to his audiogram, he should be mainstreamed--but add everything else and he needs sign/speech combined for learning & comprehension.

It is amazing the looks I get from people who hear him speak but see me still sign to him.

Unfortunately, there are 2 trains of thought when it comes to Deafness: Deaf Culture(signing) & AG Bell(speaking & lipreading). Some people are set in their ways and you can talk all day, but nothing will change. Just know that what works for one family will not work for another. And continue to raise Rebecca the way you do without worrying about anyone else or their opinion.

Me and my friends who have children with differing special needs continually second-guess ourselves. We can only do the best that we can with the information that we have. The bottom line is we love our children and that will ultimately make them successful.


Martha said...

Just remember...when you don't know what else to do...simply love your child.

Any choice you make, as long as it's made in love, is a good choice. No one else is the mother of these children. No one else can make an educated decision for them. So don't worry about what everyone else thinks.

Shari said...

Yes, those decisions are hard to make. We were born in the 60s and oralizm was big. My brother, sister, and I were put in a deaf cirriculum early to learn to speak. They were mainstreamed early-in first and second grades. I was left behind, not ready. I wasn't fully mainstreamed till I was in 8th grade. So I had the experence of both the deaf classes in a public school and an all-hearing school in a private Christian school. For me, I'm glad I went to school with deaf peers. It was very hard to adjust to an all-hearing school-no interpreters, no accommodations except sitting up in front in classes and asking, asking, asking the teacher about assignments.

The school I went to with the deaf kids were pretty much signed English only, too. I should do a post on that, I suppose, on my experiences in both schools. LOL

Kimberly P. said...

I wish you luck in deciding how to educate your daughter, but I wanted to make one comment :) I don't know if you're still trying to decide between ASL and SEE, but I wanted to point out that ASL is a full language, with a grammer and syntax and therefore anything can be communicated in ASL. SEE however is a code. I understand the wonder at being introduced to deaf culture, kind of a "Wow!" so many things I didn't know before. But I urge you to seek help from those that will best understand deafness, the deaf themselves. And I wish you luck!

Candice said...

I have also been learning ASL. I have a great friend who has taken our family under her wing. We also attend Deaf clubs, Starbucks meetings, etc. as much as we can as a family. I learned SEE first because that is what they are using at her school. I has also improved her writing and reading skills. We are using more and more ASL'ish signs (if that even makes sense) at home. I am still not great on the ASL grammatical order but I am working on it. I sign ASL signs but in English order when we are just hanging out, but when we are reading and doing school work I flip my brain into SEE mode.

I also feel like Rebecca being adopted has played into my decisions as well. It would be traumatic for us to separate the family and send her to school in Austin 5 days a week and then her come home on the weekends. I have definitely decided against that! I work in Real Estate so I have a good gauge on the market right now and we would have to rent our house right now and finding jobs would be difficult. So, financially I don't know how we would be able to move to Austin this summer! She is also finally starting to feel stable in our home and I also worry that moving will start us all over again with both of our children.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Very nice and intrestingss story.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you mean very much. I have 2 children ( adoption final soon) that are both deaf. Jeff is also MR adhd, 10, and Nicole 8 and she has ptsd and rad. I am overwhelmed. Not sure how we will ever find right help for her, but we are trying. We opted for asl, however they use signed english at school. Both are main streamed. We have been told to do this or that and found our answers come from them ! Finally nice to see that our family is not alone. There are no others like ours here where we live.....so we feel a bit lost times....

Candice said...

You are definitely not alone. We continue to make choices that we are not sure if they are the right ones, but I think we are doing alright. Where do you live?