2015: The Year of the Deaf Child, guest post by Julie Rems Smario
It hit me hard again… The Deaf child rarely tells the stories.
If you search for stories about raising Deaf children, you will find stories of hearing
mothers and fathers and grandparents of Deaf children. Their stories are focused on impairments, and how the surrounding family is affected. Their stories often show that the Deaf Child is the center of their pain.
The Deaf Child is not born to inflict pain on those who love them.
During past few years, with the exponential growth of hearing dominated early intervention and deaf education resources, more and more hearing people along with hearing parents and family members are using social media to write about raising deaf children, or children with “hearing loss” (now a common description –thanks *sarcastically* to the influence by the medical professionals).
Once again, the Deaf Child rarely tells the stories.
Even the “hearing loss” awareness campaigns feel like allies and medical professionals reaching out to more allies and medical professionals. The Deaf child is disempowered and forgotten in the name of “overcoming deafness” to accomplish the society’s hearing standards. Deaf children are often treated like the objects of inspiration and burden.
The Deaf Child has been hijacked.
2015 is the year to push for the inspiring stories from Deaf children and Deaf adults who had wonderful experience growing up Deaf. With the resources we have now, it is so easy to create the Deaf Child platform with inspiring stories. Deaf children and adults can dominate social medial about the following: It is okay to be Deaf; it is healthy to be raised bilingually (ASL and English), Deaf schools are the Least Restrictive Environments, and Deaf children can “be” as healthy bilingual Deaf human beings accomplishing anything they dare to dream for.
2015 is the year of the Deaf Child.
Let’s make Veditz proud by ending the war on Deaf babies.
Julie Rems-Smario is an Education Consultant at California School for the Deaf, in Fremont where she can further her goal to preserve, protect and promote ASL for all children. Founding CEO for DeafHope, Julie was nationally recognized with several awards such as CNN Heroes and E-Women Network International Humanitarian Award for her work working with Deaf survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Who Will Answer #WhoWillAnswer
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Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.
Not Deaf but identify with Deaf culture more than hearing. Raising my non-verbal son bilingual. He can now tell me what it’s like to be autistic through sim/com.
Wow, what a narrow minded post. You must be so enlightened to know how hearing parents feel vs. how they should feel.
I find it odd that you would search for stories about RAISING Deaf children, and expected to find stories written by the child themself. What? Of course you are going to hear from the parents; after all they are RAISING the deaf child, aren’t they?
“Deaf children are often treated like the objects of inspiration and burden.” Inspiration? Oh, yes! Very much so. My daughter inspires me every day. So does my hearing son. I feel bad for the parents who aren’t inspired by their children. Do you not find Deaf children inspiring, Ms. Samario?
I have literally read hundreds of blogs written by parents who are raising deaf (or other extra needs) children and not one of them have implied their child was a burden. Some of these parents are adjusting to what a new future may look like for their families. They are expressing their feelings and we have no right to tell another person how they SHOULD feel. Most of these parents are adjusting to a new “normal” and moving heaven and earth to do the best they can for their child. You don’t do that for a “burden”.
I’m sorry you have such a negative view of the world, Ms. Samario. I hope someday you find your inspiration. It’s a beautiful feeling.
I’m not answering for Ms Samario, but I am answering your comment from my perspective. I felt like my (lack of) hearing was a burden growing up.
You are a mother who loves her deaf child. Surely you can understand how the journey of other deaf people may not have been all peaches and cream? And that we want to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore to others.
I know the deaf community is happy to have allies in parents who understand and help their children to discover their pride in being deaf.
Meriah, I certainly can understand that everyone has their own journey and different experiences. However, in this article, Ms. Smario is proclaiming that “The Deaf Child has been hijacked” by parents who share their stories, feelings, and experiences about their deaf/hoh child (when she was searching for stories about raising deaf/hoh children). It is disheartening that an educational consultant feels entitled enough to berate parents for expressing their feelings. Furthermore, it is beyond presumptuous to declare these parents view their child as a burden. The only burden I carry is knowing that someday I will have to explain to my daughter this unfortunate divide…one that is further exacerbated by people like Ms. Smario.
Actually, there are PLENTY of deaf adults (especially young adults) who speak about their lives growing up as an oral deaf person, or a CI user. I can point you to their writing if you would like.
this was a guest post, Fairejour – but I’ll tell you this: if I, a deaf 41 year old woman, grew up without these stories and rarely hear of them even now, there are not enough out there.
This is a great call! We are hearing parents of a Deaf daughter, raised in a residential Deaf school. We’ve been advocating for ASL & bilingual education for a long time. But we need more stories of Deaf children and what ASL means to them. The doors it opens. The relationships it opens. The freedom and power it gives them that no other tool gives them. Oh, yes! Tell your stories, even if they hard to share or hard for hearties to understand. But when you do, caption them or have them voiced. Otherwise the people who need to “hear” them the most will NEVER understand.
you can follow #ToSignIsHuman to get all the wonderful dreams shared by the Deaf children.