As some of you may have noticed, I made my blog private for a few days. I have always promised myself that no matter how negative the criticism got, I would leave my blog public, because I believe that it is a source of support for other parents and an opportunity to shed light on CIs, ASL, spoken language and Deaf education. Well, they managed to get me for a few days.
What happened? Well, I post on a certain deaf message board. There are many people there that do not like me, and do not like the choices we have made. They disparage me, my daughter and her progress. They have called me an audist more times than I can remember, and now they have begun to attack me personally, including making claims that I have severe mental health issues. It is disgusting. So, at one point they were attacking me, and trying to use the words from my blog as ammunition. So, I blocked it.
The whole situation makes me sad. These people are supposed to be my daughter's future and community. They are the ones that parents are supposed to turn to for support??? They attack every hearing parent who chooses a CI for their child, and most viciously, those who choose spoken language as well. It is despicable. Rather than encouraging ASL, they attack spoken language. There are individuals who claim that CIs don't work, others who say they "cringe" when they see children with CIs, and nearly all believe that it is appropriate to protest at a child's school......not ok.
All of this reminds me of how grateful I am for MY Deaf community. There are so many individuals who have made our journey amazing. They have been loving, supportive and welcoming. They were there when my daughter was diagnosed. They helped us see that she would be just fine, no matter what language she used. They helped us learn ASL, and gave us a way to communicate with Miss Kat. When we chose to give her a cochlear implant, they supported our choice. They told us that it was our decision, and they said that they knew we had deliberated and that we were making an informed, well thought out decision....and then it was not discussed again. When we decided to move Miss Kat to a spoken language program, they said that it was her decision, and that as long as we continued to give her language and expose her to the Deaf community, they were ok with that too.
I have always felt that the local Deaf community was a wonderful resource for us. They were kind and loving, open and welcoming. I will never be able to express how much they mean to us. I am also so thankful for Miss Kat's first school. Her bi-bi school taught her so much. They helped give her language, but also gave her a love for school and for learning. While eventually it was no longer an appropriate placement for her, that doesn't mean that it isn't great for other Deaf kids, or that the people who work there are not amazing, dedicated, wonderful people. While we may disagree on some things, I respect and love you all.
While we pack up a few last things, I would like to implore the online Deaf community (and those who choose to behave this way off-line as well) one last time. Please stop attacking. Parents aren't the enemy, even those who choose spoken language. Children with implants, even those who choose to listen and speak, and those who do NOT ever learn ASL, are still deaf. They are just deaf in another way. There are millions of Deaf and deaf people, and each and everyone is deaf in a different way.....and that is beautiful. There are successful ASL Deaf people, successful oral deaf people, successful Cuers and successful CI users.....and there are even successful people who do ALL of those things.
Don't tell parents that CIs don't work, that their child will never listen and speak, that isn't true, and they can see, everyday, in their own home, that it isn't. Instead of attacking spoken language, and telling them that their child will suffer and be damaged from CIs, tell them about what ASL can ADD to their lives. Talk about how wonderful, loving and inviting the Deaf community is, and how great it will be for their child to have EXTRA support, not that their child will grow up to hate them and reject them for choosing an implant.
I don't know, maybe I am a fool, but I want to build bridges. I want my child to listen and speak AND be Deaf. I don't want people to think that her CI is a failure because she chooses to sign. It just isn't true. But I also don't want people to think that just because she hears very well that she has become "hearing", she hasn't. She is Deaf, and always will be.
So, here we are. Perhaps I will be attacked again, for thinking that *I* (a hearing person) can give the Deaf community advice.....or maybe, somewhere, someone, will read my words, and take a tiny step towards the parents....volunteer to help out at a oral school, go to a meeting of a parents group, meet teenage oral/CI kids (and see how well they are doing), or that's too much, just be nice! Smile, nod and hug a parent or kid who needs your support!