Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Friday, November 6, 2009

Halloween (better late than never!)

This year's halloween was a world away from last year.

Last year, we were two days pre-surgery. We were worried about Miss Kat, worried about complications and recovery, just, really, worried about everything.

Last year Miss Kat was wearing hearing aids that weren't very effective anymore. She couldn't hear us call her from very far away, so we made sure to stick very close to her.

Last year was our first year trick or treating in this neighborhood, so when people would ask Miss Kat a question they were always surprised when we would interpret it back to her, and then would come the questions...."Is she deaf?", "How long have you been signing?", "Was it hard to learn sign?", and on and on...

This year was totally different!

Miss Kat was actually knocking on doors and saying "Trick or Treat!" Ok, so it sounded like "twitwee", but who cares! We definitely never thought she would learn that phrase. Before her CI, it was way too much work for her to learn words to spend that time on something as trivial as "Trick or Treat". Plus, it would have never been intelligible enough for anyone to understand, so we just signed it.

This year, Miss Kat told everyone that she was "Ariel" and that Daddy was "Daddy, prince mermaid" and I was "Octopus witch RRRAARRR".

Miss Kat is still, maybe, 30% intelligible (we understand 99.99%) but the fact that she is communicating through spoken language is amazing and sometimes even dumbfounding.

What a difference a year makes!


Anonymous said...

Does that mean you view speech superior to signing?
When I read this, I felt got that feeling. Like this year's Halloween experience was much better...all because of
the CI and speech. Remember language does
not equate to speech. People with CIs have a huge
range of outcomes. Many still depend on their
visual language. How much a person understands
receptively is the big part of the cognitive development
Not just that but this blog reminded me of
the definition of audism. It is one thing to be proud
of your daughter's speech. It is another thing to
start viewing it as defining what is a better experience.

dietzfam06 said...

I don't think it is fair to call this post audist. I never saw where they said it was better. They said it was different, but not better.
As a parent of two deaf children, who are learning sign much quicker than speech, and who are becoming quite proficient in signing, I can say that sometimes as a parent, it takes some adjustment. Other people are always asking about it. While other deaf people think it is cool to see deaf kids signing, and although we value their signing skills enough that we are willing to fight for them to go to a signing school instead of the oral pre-school, others don't feel the same. As a parent it is hard anytime someone else is looking at your child differently as everyone else's. I understand that this is their problem, but it still kind of makes you feel bad. I can understand Miss Kat's Parents being excited about the changes this Halloween. They probably got less concerned, sorry for you looks and questions. I'm not saying it's better, and I am not an audist, but the rest of the world would say that, and they are audists on some level.

Anonymous said...

Good points Diane. First in defense, I did not call this post audist. I said it reflected the definition of "audism".

I am a older parent of a Deaf child too and am hearing so I do know what hearing parents go through especially young parents like Miss Kat's mom.

My point is that we can and do rejoice in every accomplishment our children make. When we have a Deaf child, a new culture is presented to us if we are lucky enough to have Deaf mentors in our lives to help us see and understand it. We learn how to make culturally appropriate comments and how to phrase things.

Just the same when we look at racism. We examine our comments carefully when we are speaking to a person from a different culture in order to be culturally sensitive.

That is my point here. Miss Kat is still Deaf even with a CI and even if she does learn to speak that doesn't make her a better or more successful person than when she signs. This will be part of her identity. Audism will show up from time to time as she grows up. She must be strong in her sense of identity to deal with this. This is where young parents like Miss Kat's and like myself many years ago benefit from conversations about audism, discrimination, identity, and cultural sensitivity.

Being a proud parent of a signing child can change how others view your child and those "feel sorry looks" can be changed by simply being proud of your child's language and culture. Rather than feel bad about concerned looks, we hearing parents get...we can turn it into positive experiences that teaches people whom we encounter. Every person that saw Miss Kat sign last Halloween learned something through that experience. How we handle those encounters as hearing parents makes all the difference in how our children will grow up and handle them in the future.

My point is that while all the new accomplishments in speech are exciting, don't forget that about the culturally sensitive side of things.

And don't be afraid of audism or bringing it up. Once people understand how it relates to other prejudices and discrimination, we can start to build awareness and sensitivity in the world.

Dianrez said...

There is sense in reminders that one might be valuing spoken more than signed language whenever that feeling sneaks in. Both have equal value.

Like you, I smile when Deaf kids pick up speech skills because from personal experience it helps smooth the way with hearing people even if one only can clearly speak a few words. It puts them at ease when they can understand "please", "thank you", "umm? come again?", "one moment" "manager, please" "write, please" and other useful phrases before picking up the pad and pencil. (Often it gets one in trouble when the hearing person then prattles on at 75 miles an hour, but the tradeoff is worth it.)

Here in a city where there are two major schools for the deaf--one a college, it is common for people to sign these phrases. Most people recognize "thank you" and "hello" and are even entertained by the novelty.

Miss Kat's Parents said...

I don't think that I am audist at all.
Clearly I value ASL and use it with my daughter every single day. ASL is her first and native language.
If you had been around when she was two, you would have heard about every single new sign she added. We are way past that stage. She is a fluent ASL user, and will always use it.
We happen to be celebrating her new spoken language skills in this post. There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the things she works so hard for.
Neither language is better. I was simply comparing the changes that have occured in the last 12 months.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are "audist". Never did I say that. I think the jest of your comments reflected a feeling that things are better because of the speech. Your description of the difference from last year to this year came across as a "better" experience since she didn't have to sign and she could speak instead. That is how I interpreted your message. It had hues of the definition of audism. That is what I am pointing out.

We hearing parents learn from our Deaf kids and from the Deaf community. We don't know it all as new parents. There is lots to learn. Part of that learning involves sensitivity to others who don't value speech to the same degree as you do and vice versa. That is why careful framing is important in forums that are read by a variety of Deaf people. Sign and speech are equal..not one better than the other. I am sure you feel the same....its just I didn't seem to get that from your story today.