Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 9

Speech therapy

Around the second year of kindergarten in Kentucky and/or first grade, I had speech therapy. I believe I did quite well, so I never went for a long time. It was, if I remember right, an Easter Seal Society thing in the downtown area. I'm hoping that next time I'm back I'm back in KY, I can go visit them again and see if by chance they'll still have my records.

They had all kinds of methods to help out in the therapy. One method that seems to have stuck with me today, even though I almost never used it, having used it twice in about 10 years, is when you feel someone's throat and lipread them. Then there was the requisite mirror on the wall. That "throat feel" method I used in a couple interesting ways. Once it was at a computer show on a friend's computer running a game, which had a narrator talking in demo mode. While watching the narrator, I put my hand on the speaker, and listened to the narrator talk. I understood just about everything. For a training video one time using the same method, I understood everything. Doing it on a human is the same process. It takes practice, but in some cases, will wear you out quickly. However, it's not for everyone.

Then for fifth grade, we had the occasional speech thing. The therapist would have us sit in a line of chairs and go from there. At one point, she had us "flicker" a candle with our breath without blowing it out, saying certain words. I blew it out just for the heck of it with an overly-pronounced "P" sound. It was around this time when I started learning sign.

Even today, while I talk well and am understandable, I still manage to mangle or mispronounce words at times. Even hearing people think I'm hearing when I talk. Again, in these times, there was no encouragement to learn sign and use it. My parents were told not to learn sign, but to keep me talking as they were afraid that if I was to learn sign, I would quit talking. It seems no one thought of total or simultaneous communications long ago. It was either oral or sign. This would later become an emotional sticking point with adoptive mom and I, seeing how much I missed over time.

However, who am I blaming for this issue of not signing? I'm not blaming my parents for that, even though they listened to the so-called "experts" at the time. The issue back then and still going today as I've said before is not to force a deaf or late-deafened person to become "hearing." The hearing loss is still there.

Best thing to do is to give them the tools they need for effective communications, which is total and/or simultaneous communications. Learning to talk and using your voice is one way to 'please' the hearies out there. Adding on sign language 'rebels' against the hearing people in a way, and still allows you to communicate. I will also repeat one thing I've said before... Hearing and understanding can easily be two different things for those with hearing losses. Just because something is heard, if at all, doesn't mean that it will be understood and known.

Next - Attending elementary school.

1 comment:

ASL Risen said...

Yes, that's true! Parents should have get the right kind of advise! My parents were told NOT TO USE sign language! I was not impressed with that kind of advise to my parents while I was a Residential Oral Catholic Deaf School. Deep sighs!