Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Good-bye and welcome back

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!


Dianrez said...

Please don't go to that forum where you are attacked.

I don't participate in it myself, because there are too many remarks made there from angst, idleness or ignorance.

They aren't the "community", just a few people not representative of the Deaf community.

I'm glad you are loyal and participating in your Deaf community and you certainly will find similar kindred souls in your new location.

Anonymous said...

keep your blog private. don't keep it public because you feel need to do it because of a promise.

Also, there's two sides to every story.

Anonymous said...

of course the message board you visit contained mostly people who grew up oral only (who learned ASL later) . the very culture you are about to raise your daughter in.

leah said...

What a horrible thing, to be attacked constantly. Miss Kat is obviously thriving, and you should ignore everyone else and focus on what is best for her. There are a lot of members in the Deaf community around us who are fine with CI's, and also encourage ASL. Nearly all (severe-profound) deaf children will have a CI in today's world, so instead of alienating the children and parents, it is far better to embrace them (IMO).

Sending *hugs* and I hope your move goes smoothly!

Anonymous said...

I normally don't read your posts, not after that second CI fiasco. This wasn't decided out of disrespect, but out of respect for you. But the title of this post caught my eye.

I am sorry you are dealing with the attacks. Please don't assume the attackers represent all the cyber Deaf community. Also please don't think all the Deaf people who comment in your blog are against c.i. For example, I am not against the parents who feel that c.i.s will help their deaf children. I'm not against the pediatric usage of cochlear implants, as long as the parents are well informed and do all the necessary and appropriate work. I've seen some who benefit from their cochlear implants. To me, there is no doubt you are extremely informed and love your daughter very much. To tell you the truth, I wish more parents do what you have done for Miss Kat, introducing her to ASL while you explore other options. This way, she will always have the benefits of two languages, even when she isn't using her cochlear implants.

Some Deaf people don't get to see these children who do benefit from the cochlear implants nowadays. Some of those who have seen the cases from the experimental stage in 80's and 90's when the kids were implanted past their optimal ages. As hard as it may believe, these Deaf people also love the deaf children and feel they are protecting them because as of now, they haven't seen the successes. They've seen so much deceptions and the misinformation promoted from the oral industry. Give them some time and they will see the facts for themselves when these kids become older.

But also protect yourself. Don't go to toxic cybersites where you will be attacked viciously. Also block the ips of those who continually attack you in your blog. It's your site where you can be yourself and feel free to narrate your thoughts, feelings and the progress of your beloved daughter. You've been educating a lot of people, hearing and Deaf, over the years. There are many people who read your posts, though they may not say anything.

Sorry about the length of my comment. I hope it helps some.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad I can see your blog again. I have been following it for a year now, since my daughter lost her hearing and got a CI. I find it so sad that you have to deal with hateful comments. You seem to be such a dedicated, loving mother and you always do what you think is best for Miss Kat. And really, that is all any child could ask for. Any time you get negative comments, just remember that there are anonymous people out here who are inspired by you. Good luck on your new journey!!

Shery said...

I understand your place about being attacked. Do not let them win by making blog private. Stand where you believe in. Stay strong. Like others said not particulate the forum and those type site. I do agree with them, but if you enjoy socialize people on the forum, often always check how people do in there and read their posts before you particulate it. If they are kind people who can't handle "out of the box," stay away from it. That is tough lesson I had learned from past year.

May said...

Dear Melissa,
It is true that your blog is a very good source of information and inspiration to parents and you even reach us here in the Philippines. I respect your stand and your choices for you child as her mom.
I guess there will always be negative people, and it's your choice to deal with them or ignore them when they ten to pull you (or your emotions) down.
More power to you.

Li-Li's Mom said...

So glad you've opened your site once again -- you know how I feel about your journey with Miss Kat (I admire your process, your decisions, your selfless actions towards reconciling what doesn't work and I celebrate all the good that has and will come of your perseverance and love for the little one).

That forum is truly brutal, I'm astounded by the meanness, the cruelty, and bitterness of the handful who happen to be so prolific. Thank goodness, and Dianrez wisely says, this lunatic fringe who have been so awful doesn't represent Deaf Culture as a whole, or the deaf communities in which we find ourselves.

Although MZ is right, these are toxic places, my fear is that others who come upon those horrible threads that remain will turn away from ASL, from Deaf Culture. It seems like there's a need to remain as a representative, on our children's behalf, of a valid and authentic approach to living with deafness so that those who come will see that CIs and ASL are NOT mutually exclusive, that CIs do not inherently equal "audism," and that as Marschark states: "there is never going to be a "one size fits all" solution for deaf children either educationally or in language".

Safe journey and happy housewarming in your new place. Beth

Anonymous said...

I read those comments made about you on that forum and they were hateful. Don't let those few, who ARE NOT representative of the Deaf community stop you from sharing your daughter's experiences with others!

Keep up the good work, what you are doing is providing an invaluable resource to others!