Thursday, June 12, 2008
I Am Aware
As parents of deaf children we not only become so close to our kids just because we love them, we become very aware of the things around us for teaching purposes, for safety reasons, and communication flow. I talk teaching purposes all the time so I'll only brief you on that subject. We all know how to take all of the day's opportunities to add language/vocabulary/speech into our children's developing little minds. The children look out at the pouring rain and we, as sometimes obsessive teachers, think "it's raining cats and dogs" a good little idiom to explain, or we think of a little song to sing "it's raining it's pouring" or we describe the saturation with any and every word we pull from our internal thesaurus.
Now I, as a parent of deaf children I am also aware of my surroundings for safety purposes. It's easier to hear to certain things if you are told what to listen for. I've read somewhere that if you see/hear the questions first, you are more likely to be able to answer them correctly after a passage has been read, since you know the key things to listen/watch for. However, in life we don't always get questions first. Our conversation takes place and then you are tested by your peers with the various questions that follow. Sometimes for safety reasons, I give the kids what to listen for. As we walk from our car, thru the parking lot, hoping to make it into the store safely, I'll say "now listen for cars cranking, or backing up". If they are outside playing, I say "listen for cars/strangers to pull up and run inside if hear anyone".
I am also aware how dependent Gage is w/out his processor on his vision. While outside swimming, if one drop of water gets into his eyes, temporarily impairing his vision, it's panic time until he wipes his eyes. I have to keep a towel really close for him at all times while swimming. Brook isn't a very good speech reader, and she could care less if water gets in her eyes. She is still visual and has recently shown interest in sign where Gage still has not. Gage seems to have an internal switch where, while wearing his processor on he's dependent on hearing. Take that away and he's reading people. I'm also aware that with no processor, I have to watch my positioning when speaking to him. I have to make sure my full face is looking his way, no partial views, no hair hanging in my face. Sometimes if we are outside I have to remove my glasses which are transition lenses and turn into sunglasses outside. I also have to position his back to the sun so he's not looking into the sun to read my face. I watched him at the beach and he would talk to people, have full on conversations with people who never knew they were talking to a deaf child. The conversations just flowed. I watched him study their faces, I think they loved that about him, he seemed so caring, so respectful, so interested in what they had to say...and all may have been true but I was aware he was reading. His ability to maintain communication flow w/or without his processor amazes me, he's a very skilled conversationalist. Brook never relied on speech reading and was implanted before it got to that point, but Gage went quite some time as a three year old reading speech only, no hearing. So his skills have been rightfully earned I guess. I'm sure many parents can relate, we become more aware of even the little things than ever thought we would. Sometimes I find myself telling people, even family, "she didn't hear you...someone was sliding a chair just as you spoke, can you repeat that?" because they assume she's not minding, or assume she's not interested, when in fact she never heard what they said to begin with.
So as parents of these little guys we become much more aware, consider it a gift or a curse( I say it's a gift) ...