Deaf Family Finds Themselves Torn Between Deaf and Hearing Worlds (Part 1)

Uploaded by Paro77777 on 05.12.2009

Do you know that there are sounds everywhere? I know that you don't hear them but everywhere
there's a sound. When you open a door, that's a sound. When you knock on a door. What? Ring
a doorbell that's a sound. Right. What's that? What does that mean? Oh a lion? A lion roooars.
Right. Everything makes a sound. You're going to be right back? I said that if you had a
cochlear implant you could talk on the telephone. Are you telling Amanda that? What are you
telling Amanda? What? You're telling Amanda about getting an implant? I was the oldest
child in my fmaily and I'm deaf. I would never say I prefer to be hearing I really am happy
being deaf. It's very peaceful. Who would want to change that? In my heart I know this
is who I am. If somebody gave me a pill that would make me hearing would I take it? No
way. I'd want to go to a hospital and throw it up and go back to being deaf. I want to
be deaf.. So when all three of my children were born deaf too I thought Great! My kids
are just like me. I started signing to my oldest Heather when she was just a baby in
my arms and now I look at her and I'm amazed. At five she's already fluent in sign! So when
Heather came to us and said she wanted this cochlear implant it really upset me. I felt
she was rejecting me and my wife. She wanted to be different. She wanted to hear. It's
very unusual for a five year old deaf child to say she wants to hear and speak and use
the telephone. I think it's because we're the only deaf family in our whole neighborhood.
Heather wants to communicate with hearing people. I understand her motivation but I
just want her to be happy the way she is. A hearing person really can't understand how
you could be happy if your child is born deaf because everyone they know is hearing. So
when my brother and his wife had twins and found out that one of them was deaf, they
were just devastated. There we go. When we found out Peter was deaf we were very upset.
Oh yeah. And despite the deafness in the family when we found out it was a devastating blow.
Peter. Finished. I just have a CD player right here I'd like you to listen to just to sort
of get an idea as to what hearing loss sounds like. They filtered out all of the frequency
information above 250 hertz. Even more than what your son is getting right now. That what
you just heard is probably even better than what your son is getting right now. I've never
heard any assilimation to that so it's pretty amazing. I didn't know what they could hear
or if that's considered hearing. Being an audiologist for 25 years it never gets any
easier for me to tell a parent that their child is deaf. Hearing that CD and thinking
about Peter. It killed me. A part of me died. With the cochlear implant, the child will
be able to hear. There are some children that are so profoundly deaf that they really don't
get a lot of benefits from a hearing aide. The younger, the better.. And why? Because
when children are younger they're learning language and it becomes a much more natural
process than when children are implanted later on. When we do a cochlear implant to a thirteen
month old that child is able to hear develop speech and related not to deaf people but
to hearing people. When he was first diagnosed the audiologist said he was an implant candidate.
Our view was no way we've heard the implant isn't that successful. It's really don't even
bother looking into it. Then word of mouth started trickling down to us that maybe we
should investigate it. In this classroom there are several children who were born deaf came
into our infant program had received cochlear implants at two and a hald three years of
age and have been in our preschool program for a couple of years. And these children
are getting ready to go into kindergarten next year. Hello!! HI! Say Hi!! Hi! Okay everybody's
going to have a turn okay? Shelby can you ask everybody is everybody ready? Everybody
are you ready? Go ahead. ::Child singing:: Good morning. Good morning. How are you? Shelby?
Was she born deaf? Shelby was born deaf and she was implanted at about two and a half
years and how old is she now? She was five last December. So in two and a half years
her speech has gotten that well? Right. And of course when her implant is not on. she's
a deaf child again. Say how are you Corrina? How are you Corrina? How are you? I'm fine
thankyou. Okay good. When we saw those kids I was flabberghasted. These kids could hear.
How are you Corrina? The idea of this cochlear implant surgery is so scary. It's so invasive.
They drill throught the skull and have to go very deeply inside. I'm afraid that cochlear
implants are going to create a bunch of robots. It just doesn't seem right for a deaf person
because our natural communication is signing and being in the deaf world. When I was a
child and when my parents spoke I was completely lost. I would watch their gestures and their
body language but I had no idea what they were saying. I could hardy communicate with
them at all. But finally I learned sign language. And I think that's when my life really began.
English is just moving lips. it has no meaning for me. But sign is so visual. It's got emotion.
I could communicate for the first time.
My fear is that if Heather were implanted she wouldn't be part of the deaf world or
the hearing world. She's be part of some cochlear implant world. When Heather plays with her
hearing friends, she does get frustrated. She turns to her Mother and me and asks what
they're saying? Well we don't know either. We're deaf too. I feel so helpless. She wants
to communicate with them so badly so she says she wants a cochlear implant now. Why do you
want a cochlear implant now? Because I want to hear everything. Everything? I need to
hear alarms. Smoke detectors for fire. And what else? Many different things. A saw. Nails
being hammered into wood. The telephone. A saw cutting down a tree. Cars crashing. Horns
beeping. Beep Beep! And what else? Hear all the people talking in Florida and New York.
Different states, huh? I was closed minded before. I didn't like the idea of cochlear
implant. I thought it didn't fit the deaf world. But then I remember what it was like
for me as a child. I grew up in a family where I was the only deaf person. And where the
whole town was hearing. It was very frustrating. I never learned how to speak and I felt like
an outcast.