I'm on the cover of today's Guardian newspaper!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by RedTomato, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #1
    Not wanting to shoot my hands off, but I'm on the cover of today's Guardian newspaper :) :)

    There's a lovely photo of me, my partner, and our deaf baby on the cover :)

    The main article in the G2 section is called 'I hoped our baby would be Deaf' and goes into more depth about us and why we decided not to give our deaf baby a hearing aid.

    Some of the issues covered in the article have become primary motifs in my art production which is rooted in Deaf folk-lore, experiences and history.

    I'm willing to give (short) answers to any questions people have about the article.

    The online version (without photos) is at http://society.guardian.co.uk/health/story/0,,1735694,00.html

    cheers

    .. RedTomato ..
     
  2. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #2
    I read the article online earlier and thought it was very interesting. You put your points across very well and I'm sorry to hear that you were having problems with people insisting on aids etc. Your analogies really made me think about what it would be like for a child and I do believe that you are doing the right thing.

    I'm not sure I'd be able to say that I'd be glad if a child of mine was born deaf since I do believe their opportunities are more limited (particularly in the eyes of the rest of the able-bodied world) if they don't have the use of all their senses. It's impossible to know how I'd feel if I was deaf or blind myself.
     
  3. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #3
    I'm sorry, but I think debilitating a child is some form of abuse. Why can't your child appreciate deaf culture and still hear? Heck if either of my parents were in a wheelchair I'd push them around. If we were all in wheelchairs then it would be a little difficult.
    Take me. I wear glasses and contact lenses. I pray to god my child doesn't have too, not to suffer the same way I did through mild bullying in the early years and the way glasses now get in the way of hobbies and sports. Even now I can only go swimming when my contact lenses are ready to be disposed. Which limits me to 1 swim every 2 months.

    What about the dangers of this? A baby that could hear if he/she had a hearing aid would be safer.

    I dunno. I'm sure you have your reasons.
     
  4. Kernow macrumors 65816

    Kernow

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    #4
    A very interesting article - as Applespider says, you make your points very well, and I can understand the rationale behind your decision. I am glad to see that you will support your daughter's decision in the future should she decide to use a hearing aid, as I have read accounts of people who would consider such a choice a betrayal of deaf culture. It is a brave decision that not everyone will understand, and I wish you and your family well.

    Edit: For today at least, you can see a small version of the front cover of the physical paper here.
     
  5. Queso macrumors G4

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    #5
    OMG your name really is Tomato!! Excellent!!

    WARNING : The above shows the poster's inability to process relevant information.
     
  6. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    #6
    I haven't read the article yet, but I'll be sure to pass this on to my boyfriend!

    He's an undergrad majoring in psychology and he just did a research paper on children/babies growing up deaf.

    As for your personal story, thank you for sharing and I applaud you for being true to your conviction (I don't know if I agree or disagree but still).
     
  7. gekko513 macrumors 603

    gekko513

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    #7
    I also found the article interesting and I must confess that I was a bit sceptical as to why you chose not to go with a hearing aid. That was until I read the paragraph:

    "For Garfield and Lichy, this is all about accepting Molly as she is, rather than trying to remould her into the hearing child she isn't. "It's an important time for Molly to learn about her body in its natural state," says Lichy. "How to use her hands and her vision. To give her hundreds of decibels straight into her ear with an amplifying device, when she can't control the volume herself or say if it's painful, is just wrong. A typical hearing aid for her age and level of deafness amplifies to 120dB or more. That's like standing next to a car horn, or a jackhammer banging away next to you. How can she learn to play, to focus, to concentrate with noises like that blasting into her ear? We refuse to do it to our baby. If she wants to wear them when she is older, then that will be her decision, and we won't stand in her way."

    I have a question. How do you and those in the know think the development of verbal skills will be affected by the choice to go without an amplifying device in the early years?
     
  8. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #8
    I don't want to sound mean, but how would you know what you are missing out on if you've never experienced it? Your childs experience with newer more technically developed devices may be totally different that you experienced.

    I am not trying to diss you. And I do applaud your convictions. However, IMHO you are limiting your child. And if I were your child, I would resent you.
     
  9. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

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    #9
    I am in the middle between the deaf world and the hearing world; I am not profoundly deaf, so that when I put on a bone conduction hearing aid which amplifies the sound I can hear at nearly a normal level. Without that, I can hear someone speaking to me only if they speak fairly loudly and if they clearly enunciate. I can hear the telephone ring if I'm in the same room but cannot hear the person at the other end if I were to answer it without the hearing aid or some sort of amplification connected to or built into the phone receiver.

    Since I'm older than most participants on here, I was born in a time when hearing aids were not automatically put on a child the minute it was realized there was a hearing issue. Back then this was not even considered important. Instead, beginning at age three, I attended an oral school for the deaf, honed my lipreading skills and learned a little Sign behind the nuns' backs. When I was six years old I was fitted with my first hearing aid, the theory being that now I was old enough to "take proper care of it." That first hearing aid made a world of difference for me. Now I was seemingly more like others in my family and around me -- until I turned the thing off or removed it.

    Eve now, a lot of times when I am at home alone -- as I am right now, in fact -- I do not bother to have any amplification turned on. If the phone rings, I'll first quickly turn my aid on before I lift the receiver to answer. Before I leave the house to go out, I'll make sure the aids are turned on. I no longer wear just one traditional bone conduction aid, I now have two bone-anchored hearing aids which really work a treat. However, all I have to do is turn them off and I am in that other zone again...

    I happen to live in the Washington, DC area, home of Gallaudet University, and many years ago my husband, who was hearing, taught there, so that was when I became more acquainted with the deaf community and its unique culture. I quickly realized that just as I can never really be a full member of the hearing community, I also am not a member of the deaf community, but somehwere in between....

    All of that above is to give you a sort of glimpse of my particular experiences and background. I fully understand your desire to raise your chid as a member of the deaf community, to totally integrate her, and that would certainly provide her with a sense of "belonging" that many of us don't have. I am aware that many deaf children of hearing parents often feel as though they don't belong, especially if they are the only hearing-impaired person in the family. Kids sent off to deaf school quickly find a new "family," other deaf people like them and can and do form close bonds that are lifelong.

    There is the same strong sense of community among deaf people here in the US, too, as well as some controversy regarding cochear implants. It seems that more often hearing parents of a deaf child embrace technology such as cochlear implants or hearing aids whereas other parents, many times those who are themselves deaf, are either hesitant about it or will flat-out refuse to consider it. One thing to think about is just how *much* will hearing aids help? If they only will serve to amplify sound but not really make it any easier for your child to understand speech (which is the usual goal) or to develop her own oral speech, then maybe it's not as necessary as everyone is trying to tell you. On the other hand, if hearing aids would actually make a significant enough difference so that your child could genuinely benefit, then they are worth considering. Yes, hearing aids are not the most comfortable or convenient things with which to deal on a daily basis and at times they can be downright annoying, so that if there is little perceived benefit from them, it's understandable why someone would refuse them or get rid of them after a period of use.

    Your child will always be a part of you, a part of your family, and a part of the deaf community, whether or not she (eventually) wears hearing aids or cochlear implants or some other as-yet-undeveloped new technological device.
     
  10. Salasm macrumors regular

    Salasm

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    #10
    You might find this interesting:

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/031226.html

    Denying your child hearing, thus impairing language development, is cruel and unusual punishment. There is technology that exists today to help overcome human deficiencies. Why would you deny your child that?
     
  11. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

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    #11
    In situations where someone is profoundly deaf, a hearing aid is only going to provide minimal benefits; the key is that there has to be enough residual hearing in order to be able to discern speech sounds when fitted with a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

    Tomato and his wife are not "denying their child hearing...." Mother Nature has already done that. The issue here is whether or not current technology (hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc.) would be beneficial to their daughter.
     
  12. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #12
    Not to nitpick. But if the technology is available, and they do not use it or at least try it, are they not denying their child hearing?

    I have friends who have vision and hearing issues. All of them have spent their own funds to get the best possible result. To do anything less would be crazy to them.

    Mother Nature gives us a starting point. What we do from there is variable and IMHO I say do everything you can to improve your quality of life.

    Imagine this were vision and the same situation were true (both parents were blind) and the child was blind but could see with the help of a device. Would we think differently about helping the child? I would think so.
     
  13. XNine macrumors 68040

    XNine

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    #13
    Pay no attention to naysayers. Your child has the chance to learn more independance and develop more skills than any of them or their children. The senses your child will have will be greatly enhanced, and the "need" for hearing will not matter to her.

    Having your child learn to not only cope, but accept and thrive without hearing is the best thing you can do for her.
     
  14. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #14

    The point that I think Tomato is trying to make and that I'm trying to make is that while technology may be available, it still may not be efficacious in helping their child. Usually the goal is to enhance the residual hearing to a point where sounds can not only be heard but also interpreted. A child would be fitted with hearing aids and then would be able to hear speech sounds and this would then mean he or she would subsequently benefit from speech training in order to learn to interpret those sounds and learn to use them in his or her own speech. If hearing aids simply amplify sounds to the point where the individual can discern that they are sounds but still not be able to really do anything useful with them, then this makes the hearing aids somewhat less than optimal. Deaf people do feel vibrations, so that when someone slams a door they're going to sense that. Putting a pair of hearing aids in may only serve to add a bit of sound to that. Without knowing the exact extent of their child's hearing loss, none of us can pass judgement upon what is "right" or "wrong" in this situation. This little girl might benefit from using hearing aids or she might not; that is something that an audiologist would be able to determine after running audiology exams.

    The issue is not so much hearing, per se, or lack thereof. It's communication. Yes. Communication is key in society, correct? Deaf people have developed a highly sophisticated, very effective communication system of their own: sign language. Just as oral speech has "dialects," so does Sign. Someone in the US who uses American Sign Language will have some regional differences just as speakers from the South can be differentiated from someone who is from the New England states. I would imagine that the same applies to BSL, British Sign Language. A deaf person from the UK meeting a deaf person from the US would find some differences, too....

    Tomato and his wife are not depriving their child of communication -- far from it -- they are both using BSL and their child is growing up learning and using BSL. Whether or not she will also develop oral skills and be able to speak effectively so that hearing people will be able to understand her is something else again. Technology may or may not be able to help in that regard.
     
  15. 2nyRiggz macrumors 603

    2nyRiggz

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    #15
    Indeed....go for it and let the child learn more i see no reason why not but it is up to ya'll....the more you know the better you grow


    Bless
     
  16. Lau Guest

    #16
    I also think you present your case very well. You sound as if you've considered it carefully, and the fact that you're willing to let Molly have a hearing aid when she's older if she wishes is a good thing, in my opinion. If the option is kept open to her I'm sure she'll make her feelings known if she does want to try it. It is worth bearing in mind that technology is getting better and better over the years though, and by the time she's a teenager there may be something amazing out there. If a hearing aid was invented tomorrow that was tiny and offered a far better experience than what's out there at the moment, how would you feel about her having one? Would you and your wife choose to have one?

    I think the contact lenses/glasses thing isn't exactly the same thing - I'm very short sighted and wouldn't wish it on a child of mine. But then being short sighted is just a bit rubbish really - you can't see much, and you don't have the visual equivalent of sign language to make a 'community' of short sighted people, you're just a bunch of people who see things a bit fuzzy without their glasses.

    The blind analogy is better - if your child was very blind would you choose to make them wear binoculars strapped to their face that made the vague black and white shapes very slightly clearer but were cumbersome and distracting, or would you teach them how to live as a blind person, knowing they may well ditch the binoculars when they had the choice? The difference is that if a child is profoundly deaf the hearing aid isn't necessarily going to be that much more helpful. As ClixPix said, if you have slight hearing problems, a hearing aid might well help you to hear something approximating the levels and clarity what most of us hear. Similarly, if you have mild sight problems, a pair of glasses or contacts will then help you to see something approximating good vision. But if you're entirely blind or profoundly deaf, it's a different thing altogether.

    My mum's a speech therapist, so I'll be interested to hear what she says about this. It's interesting to hear from her how attitudes to things like this have changed over the years - she must have qualified in the early to mid 70s, and is still working now, so a lot of things have changed in the way kids with speech, language and hearing difficulties are treated. I'll send her a copy of this article and see what her opinion of it all is.
     
  17. adroit macrumors 6502

    adroit

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    #17
    I don't really know how I feel about this. I find it very difficult to pick one side.

    I agree with the part about trying to get her to learn about her own body and what the nature gave her. I also agree about the verbal development aspect. I don't think I would be able to choose myself. However, I really don't like the opening line where your wife said:

    "When I was pregnant I did hope the baby would be deaf. Obviously, I would have loved a hearing baby equally, but inside, I really hoped she would be deaf like me."

    The deaf of your child is obviously an act of nature, but I cannot understand why would anyone ever want his/her child to have any kind of disability. That is just cruel.
     
  18. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #18
    Anybody who is in an international marriage can tell you that communication is the key to a successful marriage. Language is secondary! :D

    IMHO, Tomato and his wife are depriving their child by not having her develop both skills. Why wouldn't you want the child to develop oratory skills and only rely on sign language?

    The world is based on audiory rules. Nothing wrong with Deaf communities. They sound fantastic. But why would you want to limit your child's view of the world by not having them do both?

    I imagine that Helen Keller, a very remarkable woman, is rolling in her grave about now with disbelief.

    Completely agree with you.

    Makes no sense to me either.
     
  19. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

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    #19
    My sentiment as well.

    I have a daughter and a son and can't imagine "hoping" that they would be disabled in some respect.

    I can see your perspective but this sounds like you're doing this more for yourself, than your child. You're choosing to artificially limit your child's capabilities -- and potentially negatively impact their development -- in an effort to preserve a culture of deafness?

    I suppose what bothered me the most was the self-aggrandizing nature of the article. It seems less about a child with a disability and more about a parent's private crusade for "deaf culture." Seems the daughter is simply stuck in the middle.
     
  20. RedTomato thread starter macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #20
    Just got back from work.

    Wow, so many replies, and many thanks to the people who have taken time to reply, even the ones who disagree with me.

    I'll try to answer some of your points, but I have to go to bed soon.

    In general, it's important to remember that overall, deaf education is a failure.

    Deaf people are no less intelligent than hearing people. So why, in our current educational system (both US and UK), do Deaf people graduate from school on average with lower educational levels than hearing people?

    This is despite the best attentions of doctors and medical people.

    There have been many studies showing that deaf children from deaf parents on average do better educationally than deaf children from hearing parents with similar socio-economic backgrounds.

    This is despite these deaf parents being in general more likely to reject medical intervention - cochlear implants and hearing aids and so on.

    As has been said, one of the keys is access to language. Even hearing babies benefit from getting early access to language through BabySign, and that's been shown to improve their IQ and so on.

    Yet for deaf children the educational and medical fad for the past few decades has been to DENY them access to sign. I've had arguements with audiologists and speech therapists who have actually said to me that BabySign is OK for hearing babies, but not suitable for deaf babies, who should concentrate on their hearing.

    What ****ing rubbish, if you'll pardon my french. These people should be giving us access to language, not cutting us off from it. That's one of the many reasons why I don't value their opinions very highly.

    There's considerable evidence showing that the average educational level of the Deaf community has declined since the theory of oralism and medical intervention came in, in the early 1900's. It's only in the last couple of decades with the spread of signing that it's started to rise again.

    To the person who said I was depriving my baby of the chance to hear - even with hearing aids, she will still be deaf, as someone mentioned above.

    I'm depriving her of the burden of trying to learn with 120dB blasting into her ear, of trying to learn to walk and concentrate and focus with jet engines next to her.

    So far, it seems to be working. We had a Teacher of the Deaf visit for an assessment last week (after the article was written) and she said that our baby now has vocabulary and language skills in advance of hearing children her age - something almost unheard of for a 14 month old deaf baby.

    To the person who said I was anti-hearing - what rubbish! My parents and my brother are both hearing and I love them dearly! I work every day with hearing people, many of whom sign fluently, and many don't. All have respect for and appreciation of signing.

    The only hearing people I've ever met who I could call 'anti-deaf' are, paradoxically, mainly these who are responsible for deaf 'welfare'.

    I mean the Teacher of the Deaf who teaches deaf kids for 20 years but never bothers to learn a single sign; the audiologist who advises parents of deaf children not to 'expose' their kids to 'the dangers of signing' (real examples), the hearing CEO of a £55 million/year deaf charity who told me on national TV that 'signing wasn't apropiate' for him to learn. (so he's incapable of communicating with his own clients then? )

    Some people seem to think I don't want my child to speak. I do. As we said in the article, we have already found speech therapists who can sign fluently, which is almost unheard of in the UK.

    Most UK deaf people (including me and my partner up till recently) have never met or heard of a speech therapist who can sign. Many thousands of wasted hours have been spent and are still spent by UK deaf kids sitting in front of speech therapists muttering incomphrensible mouthings. I don't want that for Molly.

    I hope I've answered some of your questions. Many thanks to the people that supported me, and also thanks to the people that took the time to explain why they disagree with me.

    One more thing - when my partner was pregnant, we really did expect to have a hearing baby - we have almost no family history of deafness. My partner spent many hours playing music to her belly to encourage our baby to develop, even tho we're both deaf. (we did check with a hearing mate that we weren't playing it too loud!)

    When Molly was born, we put off having a hearing test for almost 3 months, as we wanted to get to know her before putting a label of hearing or deaf on her. It was only when my partner got fed up of everyone asking 'is she hearing or deaf' that we went for a test.

    Of course we were really happy that she was deaf, but we would have been happy too if she was hearing, tho my partner was annoyed that she wasted so many hours playing Bach and Mozart to a deaf baby :)

    Will be very interested to see your replies to this.

    Tomato
     
  21. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #21
    That's the impression I got too. That you're trying to preserve the deaf culture.
    Hearing is extremely important, if there is at least some fraction of hearing gained by implants then I would go for that. Especially in a world where you can avoid danger. What about crossing the road? or being attacked because you didn't hear someone approaching? Theres a difference between using a hearing aid to communicate with non-deaf people and gaining even just a slight improvement for safety reasons.

    I probably worded things wrong and insensitive up there. I'm just worried about your child's safety.

    Interestingly I saw something similar to your story some years ago on See Hear. I think it was theoretical, like what would happen in the future if they can fix everything. blindness, deafness, paraplegia etc. What if the parents had the option to keep the child as healthy as possible. Would they press the metaphorical button and make everything right, but denying the world the parents were brought up in? It's a very interesting debate, this whole thing. But in the end I would put safety and awareness above all else.
     
  22. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #22
    After reading your above reply then I give in. If you're baby will definitely not hear then I'll subside.
    Good luck there! I'm sure you and your wife will bring up a brilliant child :)

    and yup, my pop brought home The Guardian so I caught the story in there too.
     
  23. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

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    #23
    Thanks for going into a bit more detail on your thinking and viewpoint.

    I respectfully disagree, but then I don't have the perspective on the matter that you do.
     
  24. adroit macrumors 6502

    adroit

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    #24
    Thanks for taking the time to explain this.

    Like I said before, I don't really have an opinion on what would be the best thing to do. You obiously have more knowledge about this issue than I do.

    I'm glad to hear that you've found the right speech therapist for your child and let us know it goes.

    Cheers
     
  25. RedTomato thread starter macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #25
    Thanks for your concern. I respectfully suggest that you start advising all the hearing people who live in cities to move to the countryside, so that they can hear traffic more effectively and not have to suffer from the burden of using their eyes when they cross the road. /sarcasm :)

    There's been a few films made by deaf filmmakers exploring what would happen if one could take a pill and become hearing. Cue avalanche of nasty sounds - traffic noise, argueing people, dogs barking, sleepless nights, car alarms and so on. Ususally ends in the protaganist waking up as if from a bad dream and thanking god they're deaf, or frantically searching for an antidote to the hearing-pill :)

    My view is the world would be poorer without deaf people and sign language. Signing is the hottest field in linguistics and is challenging many of the current theories. Car wing mirrors were invented by a deaf guy Arthur Wilson - he held the global advertising account for Dunlop's first ever pneumatic tires, and had 220 employees, all signers, both deaf and hearing. Signing is now helping the language and development of hearing babies all around the world.

    Vint Cerf, the real father of the internet, is another well known deaf guy - without him, Macrumors wouldn't exist :)

    cheers

    Tomato
     

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