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Deaf Page 12.....A Child's Choice: To Sign or Talk? Page 14.....Whatis Deaf Culture? A Hearing Parent's Perspective Page 32.....Dr. Seuss' Eye-Opening Journey in Deafvitte

Page 8......Your Child Has A Cochlear Implant: Why lnclude Sign Language?

PLUS: ASDCCONFERENCE 2009INFORMATION

To Signor Talk?" "A Child's Choice.


of a signingdeaf person with a cochlearimplant A personalexperience
Crider By Summer
In today'sworld, the choicesthat parentshave about educatNor is it ing their deaf childrenremainto be not-so-simple. methodis the best for their child. clearwhat communication Naturally,parents want their childrento be like them and to speak the same language.So when there is a window of to have their child talk, most seek to choose that opportunity venue. With the existingDeaf Culture,some parents are to them may not be entirethat what may be "natural" learning of sensoryaccessor lack because for theirchildren ly natural thereof.At the same time, as technologyadvances,devices Such that help make deaf childrenhear are being perfected. imPlants. are cochlear examples "Should still remains: the question But even with technology, we teach our child usingthe oral method,or to use sign lanquestion that often guage,or a bit of both?"lt is a complicated communiand learning language when discussing comes up cationmethod.I know this for I am a productof that experiworthsharing. of this,I feel it is something ence,and because when I with these questions My own parentshave struggled I am becamedeaf at the age of threefrom spinalmeningitis. it should question because seriously glad that they took this is the mostbasicneedfor Communication be takenseriously. it is the mustbe ableto communicateand children all people, and eduindependent, only way they will grow into healthy, cated adults. the cochlearimplantwas Upon discoveryof my deafness, devicesthat may benefit of the alternative as one up brought and bring back some, not all, of my hearing.The doctors was an implanted' warnedthat thisdevicehad to be surgically (the coninvolved were risks procedure, and there expensive observation, was stillundercareful children cept of implanting althoughFDA had just approvedit). This broughtboth hope and tensionfor my familY. and musiwho were songwriters The membersof my family, views. My motherknew about sign lancians, had different so she didn'tsee my guageand thattherewas a Deafculture, whereasmy fathervalued deafnessas a serioushandicap, the idea of my hearingand soughtto bring it back. Because in my skull object foreign placing metallic a and operating took the time to my parents made my motheruncomfortable, Theywantedto see if I wouldbenthe ideafurther. investigate devices. So assistive hearing other and aids efitfrom hearing with me, my mothertook sign lancommunication to maintain guage classes that were offered at the state school, Florida Schoolfor the Deaf. Three years later,in 1990,after hearingaids provedineffecBy thattime,I had been implantation. tive for me, I underwent at a nearbypubliceleprogram for deaf children in a enrolled was used.My familyhad schoolwheresign language mentary and usedsign language.In learned was the first language that it fact, my younger hearing twin siblings acquired. My grandfather develbooklet "Let's oped a sign language Talk With Summer,"made coPies, and distributed it among familY members.When my ParentsPerformed their music on stage, mY wouldgiveout musicsheets mother translation that includedillustrated She of the songs in sign language. the figuredthat I would appreciate visual harmonicof hands in the audienceand be involved accesswas great,but even at the The visualcommunication age of six, I still missed the soundof musicand was eager to hear agai n. My Par ent s involved me in the decisionmaki ng process to get t he cochlear implant. They introduced me to a family whose daughter at my sam e age recentlygot her implant.After what it did my motherexplained and how it worked,I was all for it. After activationof the Cl, the instructions, providedsuggestions, doctorsand audiologists On the topicof expect. should parents what they and told my my parencouraged speechskills,the audiologists acquiring to sign that if they had continued entsto stop signingadvising with me, I would neverlearnhow to speakagain.l to give was too special who feltthat sign language My mother, uo. tried to abide with the doctor'sadvice.She watchedme with me withoutthe triedto communicate sufferas specialists benefitof sign. Even though I could hear sounds,I was not given any visualsto help me connectto the wordsthat were I wouldwrigglein my seat therapy, beingsaid.Duringlistening coveredher mouthfor long periwhen the speechpathologist arguedwith the audioloods of time. My motherconstantly gists, especially after they commentedon my misbehaving She toldthem,"Of courseshe'sfidgeting, and inattentiveness. you had no visualsupportto help her connectto the sounds to say,she let me make and learnwhat they were."Needless modality whatever to communicate me allowing the choiceby I wanted.I never stoppedsigningnor did I stop wearingthe wantedboth. l, obviously, implant.
1 I alreadyhad a vocabulary levelof 3,000words at the onsetof my deat ness,so Englishwas, withoutquestion,my first language. (continued on page 25)

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