So, when I share my story, I’m often asked what I would want to tell parents or would want them to know. And that’s what this section covers. I’m sorry my story has been so long and had so many parts, but I am very thankful for anyone who has taken the time to read it for the sake of their Deaf child. And I hope that people have taken away positive lessons that will enable them to make life better for their children.
As I said before, I’m not saying to eschew technology or oralist methods entirely. They can coexist alongside ASL and Deafness. All I want is for parents to admit that sometimes that hope, that optimism, can blind them. To take a step back and re-enter reality. And my ultimate desire would be for parents to nurture the Deaf side of things and give that priority over the hearing side of things. To use the Deaf yardstick I mentioned in my last post more than the hearing one.
I want parents to listen to their children, with their hearts and minds. To truly consider what’s really worth their child’s time and energy and emotional investment from their child’s perspective as a Deaf person – which Deaf adults can clue you in on. To not force technology and oral methods on their children if they don’t want it. To understand that it’s OK, sometimes even best, if technology and oralism take a back seat to ASL and Deafness at the child’s behest.
I want parents to understand that sometimes there are better things in life to spend that time and energy on when you already have a fully accessible language and culture in ASL Deafness. That sometimes, tech and oralism are not worth the cost to their children, even if it’s worth it to the parents. That what’s worth it to the children is more important, because it’s their life and they have to live it, not their parents.
I want parents to provide their children with an environment in which they grow up with the knowledge of ASL and the Deaf world, and what it has to offer to them, that it is their legacy and the one place they will always belong and have access in. That, as much as parents may not want to admit it – their children do not need technology and difficult oral methods in order to find that belonging and acceptance, and more importantly that children should not feel as though they do.
I want parents to understand that the burden of communication should fall upon the hearing family members – not the Deaf person. That the family should bend around the Deaf person, rather than expecting the Deaf person to bend around many different family members. That sharing that burden makes it lighter for everyone, instead of the Deaf loved one carrying the whole burden alone.
I want parents to understand that a Deaf child finding family in others too is not a threat, but a beautiful expansion. There is room in every Deaf person’s heart for their hearing family and their Deaf family. Especially when the hearing family makes an effort to become a part of the Deaf person’s world rather than expecting them to become a part of the hearing world.
I want parents to really ask themselves what investing time and energy into will truly benefit their Deaf loved one: giving them THEIR world and joining them in it, or trying to make them fit in YOUR when they never fully will? Is that hour of speech or auditory therapy really, truly worth it long term for your child, or would your child get far more meaningful interaction from spending that hour playing an ASL game with them and bonding with them in a way that is 100% accessible to them?
Thank you reading what I’ve shared from my heart.