Just a person with a viewpoint

by Just a person with a viewpoint
(Michigan, USA)

I am hearing. I have worked closely with deaf children as a teacher, from both Deaf and hearing families. I am Pro ASL! I teach ASL, and refuse to teach it without including TONS of Deaf Culture information. I have had many students from hearing families who chose CI. I see the struggle, the worry, the path that these families walk and the billboards that line the way. I am not Anti CI. I understand the reasoning. I don't agree with "its the child's choice" - we make choices for our babies and children all the time based on the best information we have at the time. My beef with the whole CI thing is this: why does the only truly solid and developing language have to be tossed out the window as soon as the surgery happens? Yes, yes. I know the drill: it will compromise the auditory development. Yes, yes. We heard that back in the 70's when oralism was still all the rage. Here is what is happening: a child's only best, true working channel for communication is visual. This is their best bet for a solid language base, and it is cut off. I say go ahead and get the implant if that is what you decide - but you should have been signing with that baby all along (you HAVE been doing that, right?). Continue giving that baby the ability to express needs and communicate, as well as a means of you communicating with him or her. Do the auditory training, have 'sound only' time, do what you must. But when it comes to a need for communicating, don't tie their hands, literally or figuratively. We hear today from the children of the oralist movement who are now adults. The lesson from all of the angry, frustrated, sad adults who were denied expression, communication, and therefore a full life is that when you take away or deny the best means of communication for the sake of the develpment of the compromised (it still is, even with a CI) channel, you take much more than sound. Drop ASL later if the child shows that they rarely use it. They can pick it up later, use it some all their life, .. there are endless possible scenarios. If your desire is truly to (I've heard it/read it a million times) "give my child ALL the opportunities the world has to offer" - then give them this one too! ASL! It IS possible to develop a deaf - with - implant identity. Does it take a heap of work and time to quickly learn sign to sign with your deaf baby? Heck yes. But you've already proven yourself willing to spend a heap of time and do the hard work of researching the implant, driving to and from appointments, working with the child at home, etc. So you already know that this will be work no matter what. So figure out a way to side-step the black and white tenor of this issue, and truly give your child ALL of the options and opportunities available. I mentioned the billboards that line the path that is walked by hearing parents of a newly-diagnosed deaf child. There are NONE that advocate for ASL. When they sit in the office of the Dr. telling them of the myriad benefits of the cochlear implant, where is the balanced presentation? THAT lack needs to be addressed, and then we'll see different outcomes. That is my opinion.

Click here to post comments

Return to Evolution of a Cochlear Implant Attitude.