This is from an imperfect memory, from a very imperfect daughter.
"I can raise you either handicap or with a disability using your ability!"
"Your not handicapped, you just can't hear well, if you want, you can do anything you want."
After I had surgery for bilateral Cochlear Implants, I asked mom questions.
*Why did you raise me oral deaf?
*Why didn't I learn ASL(American Sign Language)?
*Would you implant me if I qualified, when I was younger?
*Why were you so hard on me?
Mom's answer soon.
I am so blessed with a fantastic mother(dad did not forget you - you are great too!). My parents tried for 7 years to get hearing aids for me. The doctors and audiologist did not believe that I could benefit from them. In the 70's, technology was not where it is today. She raised me Oral Hard of Hearing. That was her choice for me. She would sit and teach me how to pronounce words. She found I learned it better by writing it down. So I wrote my spelling words 10 times each every night and in the morning before a spelling test. She told me, you do what you have to do to be successful. She would read with me. She well was just a mom, doing what a mom does - love and accept her child. Mom tried to find anyone who would at least try to fit me with hearing aids. Finally when I was in 4Th grade, I got my first Bel tones. That did not stop her!
With each event in my life, mom was there, pushing and pulling at me. With each success and failure, she pushed me harder. I remember the day I was found out I was graduating 5th in my high school class. I ran to the office by my English class to call. We both cried. I told her it was because she pushed me and would not allow me to be handicap. She would not allow me to use my hearing loss to get away with a lack of education.
As my hearing has decreased over the years to the point in which I am deaf and making a choice to get cochlear implants, I asked my mom what I should do. She said, Valerie, you do what makes you happy and what will allow you to live the life you want. She would accept me either decision, but not failure or giving up. That allowed me to reflect on why I want Cochlear Implants.
Now back to the questions:
*She raised me Oral Deaf because she felt she was making the best choice for me. Not the doctors, audiologist or teachers. She felt it was the best choice for the type of child I was.
*We lived in a small town, there were not the resources around. It was not as if she choose not to learn sign language, it was that it was not around. There were not classes in our town. If there were then we would have taken it if I wanted too. As I got older, I was too busy doing my high school stuff, and felt I did not need ASL. She wants me to learn ASL now, that way I have the resources I need.
*She said she would have implanted me earlier. She would have made the decision for cochlear implant, if I qualified for them. She sees the positive results and wished I had the chance earlier in life.
*Mom said she was hard on me because that is what parents do. She would not allow me to use my hearing as an excuse. She expected a lot from me. She saw my ability where others saw my inability.
So thanks mom (dad and family) from your imperfect daughter for giving me a life rich in love, education, family and of course sound.
I see evidence of different type of childhoods, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Each of us is a reflection of our own childhood and experiences. Sometimes they blind us from seeing that others are making different choices. Instead of accepting our differences, we try to make others understand and change their choices. I can see both sides, just the one thing I don't see is this - how can others judge families for cochlear implants? We don't need to be four separate communities - hearing, Deaf, Cochlear Implant, and Hard of hearing. We need to be one community that does not exclude anyone. We should provide love to all,understand and acceptable, education that does not discriminate, knowledge on all types of communications, and strengths to make a choice for your child or self without fear of being excluded.
I am proud to say I am part of a community that accepts me for who I am, a deaf individual who has bilateral cochlear implant, this community is one I surround myself with. They include all types of people - hearing, deaf, CIs, and hard of hearing.
That is my community - what is yours?