Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What is "deaf"?

I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to explain the term "deaf" to Miss Kat. We have run out of ideas.

1. Can't hear...(the simplest explanation)-NOT TRUE! She hears very well with her CI, and in her nonimplanted ear still has enough residual hearing to know that I am talking (can NOT even make out a word though!)
2. Wears hearing aids or CI- NOT TRUE! She knows PLENTY of unamplified Deaf kids and adults.
3. Uses ASL (I know I know, don't complain, I'm just trying to explain to a 5 year old!)- NOT TRUE! Mommy and Daddy use ASL, Teacher uses ASL, we are all hearing.

Ugh, any suggestions???


Misha said...

I don't know if my suggestion may be any good.
But here it goes. Why don't you take off her C.I. and see if she can hear anything from TV or phone? Or even speak to her covering your mouth to see if she can hear. (no ASL)If she says she can't hear, just say "there you go, you're deaf." Then explain that reason why she is deaf without C.I. but that doesn't mean she's any different regardless.
If my suggestion is bad, so disregard it. Hey, I'm trying to help. :D

Insane Misha

kim (faceme) said...

I understand why this is hard to explain to a child. The Webster on-line dictionary defines deaf like this

"1. partially or wholly lacking or deprived of the sense of hearing; unable to hear. "

While many people believe deaf people hear nothing, the truth is MOST deaf people can hear some sound even without their hearing aids or CI's.

I interpret 'deaf' to mean that if you cannot hear some sounds that others hear, then you are deaf to those sounds.

It is difficult for Miss Kat to understand there are certain sounds she simply cannot hear even with her CI. She's aware of how well she hears with the CI, and can't imagine being able to hear even better than that.

I guess you could simply explain that deaf people have different abilites to hear. Some can hear better with a CI, some can't. Some deaf people wear hearing aids and many use ASL to communicate.

There isn't ONE single way of defining all of us, except that none of us hear the way hearing people do.

And all of us probably see/smell a heck of a lot more than hearing people.

Seriously I have an awesome sense of smell that continues to amaze my hearing family.

Dianrez said...

If she can hear so well that communication is not an issue, she is not functionally deaf. Where communication is an issue takes a lot longer than five years to figure out.

In early childhood, there are simpler concepts, communication is more concrete and familiar people are doing the communicating.

Later on it becomes more abstract and complicated, and one begins to sense differences from other people.

In the preteen years, socialization becomes more important and on-the-fly communication much harder with a hearing problem.

Just turning off the aids is enough explanation for now. That will give her plenty to think about as she compares the before and after in the morning when it is time to put them on.

I didn't know I was deaf (thought it was hard of hearing) until age 11. Until then any problems that came up in mainstream school or the playground seemed solvable or if not, just incidental to childhood and would disappear by the time I got bigger.

David said...

Sometimes with children, simpler is better. The best advice I can remember is to answer *exactly* the question my child asks, and no more. When he or she is ready, they will ask for the next part of the answer.

In this case, I might suggest: "Deaf is like you, Hearing is like (choose a friend or playmate she knows who is hearing and does not sign)." When Kat wants to know more, she'll ask for the next piece of the answer.


Valhallian said...

or you can say, "unable to hear without the use of assistive devices", as I'd imagine that would work in Miss Kat's case as she likely would not be able to hear without the use of the CI?

Then again, deaf obviously has different definitions as its been said that people with perfect hearing choose to turn a deaf ear. In order words, to ignore.

Marny in Maryland said...

Melissa --

Could you go with "No hearing aid, no CI, can't understand speech"? That would cover pretty much all your bases I think -- with her CI, she can understand speech, without, not really. Mom and Dad can understand talking without CI. Unamplified Deaf friends don't understand talking, they sign. Now, if you have oral Deaf adult friends who don't use amplification and speech read well, that might complicate matters (I have one such friend). You might wiht "can't use the phone" instead of "can't understand talking" in that case. She'll obviously continue to refine the definition over the years, but I think that gets you closer than, say, "deaf = signing," which is misleading on many levels.

Love your blog! Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Anonymous said...

Take off Miss Kat's CI and hearing aid, and then ask Miss Kat in sign and voice if she can hear. If she says "no", then tell her that it is because she is Deaf, and that in order to hear, she needs to wear her CI and hearing aid, that the CI and hearing aid helps her to hear. She's pretty young so it's best to keep it simple. Doing it visually and hands-on is very helpful.