Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Final

Looking to the future

Post-college, there are times that it seems that old friends have disconnected. Those who mistreated you have apologized or don't seem to care. While you tend to keep in touch with those you met back in college over time, it's too easy to lose contact with those you grew up with. I was never able to keep in contact with the other old friends from before high school due to all the moving we did. I've found some from high school and before via Internet searches. I would like to hear from my previous teachers if I can find them again.

After high school, I started finding out about the social stuff that I had missed. After college, I found I had missed much more. Almost no one invited me over for birthday parties, dinners, overnights, the usual things of growing up. That included missing the prom and finding out what it was all about.

Here's a message I posted to an email list in response to a low-vision friend who has a guide dog when she was complaining about some things related to the church she was attending;

> I'd bail. Start looking for some place that's closer and easier to get
> to. Two hours away, two hours back -- that's four hours a night just to
> be rejected. And that far away, there's little or no chance of
> outside-of-Tues-night contact if you do connect with anyone.

Yep... Kinda the story of our lives. If you're the only one at the church with a vision problem, and people aren't talking or interacting with you, then you know something's wrong.

How many times have I heard the stories of deaf kids and others who have never been invited to a sleepover, never been invited to a birthday party, never been called by their friends, never been visited by them, none of them ever gone out of their way to be on the kid's side after they're going through teasing, always being picked last, always eating alone at lunch, no one talking with you at lunch...

That flippin' *HURTS!* It gets worse when adults are doing it and they start creating cliques or reject you due to your disability. Even worse when they ignore you or refuse to interact with you...

We can't always dwell on the past. Neither can we change it. The future can have better things in store for us. If we move on with our lives, then we have become better for it.

Thanks for reading the serial.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 24

Attending Summer camps

I had my share of summer camps including the day camps. One was a church thing that went for a few weeks. I had one counselor who kept accusing me of being able to hear. I don't remember what someone told him that made him quit saying that.

Another one was in Illinois with my church group and I was the only deaf person there. I did sign a song at one point. They allowed only clean graffiti in the cabins. The high point of my time there was this mudfight. It was rather fun being the last to leave and a mud man on the way to the showers.

One was a deaf church camp in Louisiana. It was the first time I was around this many other deaf, and my signing skills weren't that great. I had some people be my voice interpreter in a class or elsewhere as needed. Interestingly enough, one of the former counselors lives near me today. The pastor mentioned previously in Part 7 was Clifford Bruffey. He will be missed. He passed away in 2001, I believe.

Next - Final Growing Up Deaf post - Looking to the Future

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 23

Intro to captioning in theatres

When I lived in Illinois, sometimes I watched movies at the theatre, reading the book first. With "Back To The Future" and some other movies, I didn't need to read the book.

In 1996, I was in Michigan with someone and watched Schindler's List. Later on, I watched Titanic in Cincinnati, Ohio. Fortunately, captioned movies became more common, meaning I didn't have to travel so far to see one.

It wasn't often that I would go out to see a movie with friends since I'd usually be seeing them alone. Much of the time, I'd see a movie at their home. My family sometimes rented videos, and sometimes we'd all watch. Not all VHS, Beta, and laserdisc movies had captions. Now, with the new DVD releases, they're either captioned, subtitled, both, or in some cases, none at all.

Next - Summer camps

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 22

Intro to captioning at home

It wasn't til about 1977 or '78 when I lived in Louisiana when I was given a Sears Telecaptioner as a birthday gift. It was hard if not impossible to understand a lot of the dialogue, but the action wasn't a problem. Many a game show were easy to follow like the The Price Is Right and the $64,000 Pyramid, despite the dialogue.

Sesame Street and Electric Company were fun to watch, though not captioned til maybe 10 years later. I enjoyed Zoom as well as the Mickey Mouse Club and watched Batman with my brother. It was probably every boy's fantasy to meet Julie Newmar's Catwoman character. What a catsuit!

Little House on the Prairie was one of the better shows back then. Nothing is like it today.

I ordered the Telecaption 4000 in 1990 to replace the old captioner. I still have both today. In 1992, the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act mandated TVs larger than a certain size to have the caption circuit built in.

Seems the more modern shows put more emphasis on dialogue than action with some exceptions. Mom would sometimes go out to a movie and tell me if I could understand it or not.

Next - Intro to Captioning in Theatres

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 21

Teasing and Mistreatment - Part 4 of 4

It's been around the last 10 years that we're seeing the effects of bullying and mistreatment. The spate of school violence has proved what the kids have been telling the adults all these years. It causes a lot of emotional and physical harm. I was probably fortunate it didn't get to the point where I was sent to a doctor and/or hospital. Even then, a few adults listened to us and just about took on the bullies/tormentors to the point of going one on one with them to show them that their actions weren't tolerated. The parents of these bullies/tormentors can have just as much fault. In some of the cases I've heard about, it's taken hidden video and court.




In the second greatschools URL, there's the Four Myths of Bullying. The third and the fourth I heard constantly. Ignoring them didn't do a thing. Going elsewhere or ignoring would cause them to step up attacks. Stand up for ourselves? Fight back? Damned if I did, damned if I didn't.

Jamie Berke, Deafness guide at About, had a response to her from someone related to this about her own experiences. They said that when people were uncomfortable around those they see as different, they didn't know what to do and may treat them in a mean way. Meaning that today, what we thought of as teasing and mistreatment, could easily have been bullying.


There's some good videos on YouTube and many other places with a bit of looking.

Next - Intro to Captioning at Home

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 20

Teasing and Mistreatment - Part 3 of 4

With late high school, it got less. Some hurled pennies at me. They're pretty much lucky that they didn't nail my eyes in the wrong way. Remember my electronics class? Charged capacitors can be electrifying. However revenge-bent the mindset some of these kids were, I'd most likely be beaten up or something. I should have just told the coach or teacher what was going on and then gone on to the library, regardless of the consequences.

During art class in the School from Hell, I did manage to do something. This class had three groups of long tables put together. I sneaked under the table with a long piece of roping to attach to a chair leg at another table. I pulled when someone sat down. The entire class died including the teacher. Then I sneaked back to get the rope and back to my seat.

The rope and I were right within view of around 4 or 5 people including the teacher, and all they had to do was look down. *ONE* person saw me, and he never told anyone. The kid that hit the floor was one of my tormentors.

In college, there were always the dorm pranks, which most of us knew enough to never be destructive. I heard about a residence advisor who had a large water-filled trashcan tilted against their door. Some things under the beds were destroyed, they had to deal with the mildew. A similar thing happened to an RA across the hall from me.

Next - Final Part of Teasing and Mistreatment

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 19

Teasing and Mistreatment - Part 2 of 4

At the end of eighth or ninth grade, someone broke into my locker and took everything. I had a few things at home, but the major stuff I needed for studies were gone. That meant I couldn't study for my finals or get homework done after the theft. I told my teachers and they said that what my grade average was before the finals, that would be my final exam grade. When classmates heard this conversation, some were pretty upset. However, those responsible didn't even try to return my stuff. Did they destroy it, toss it in remote trashcans, what?

A couple things stand out in mind. I don't remember if the combination locks were school-provided or they were my own. They used top and a bottom lockers with mine being the top. At one point, I found my lock upside down facing the locker rather than the other way. It wasn't til shortly afterwards one girl admitted to doing that while watching over my shoulder. She and a couple other girls were known to give me trouble at times. If she did the locker theft, she put up quite an act when I talked with the teachers.

Why didn't they bother with my hearing aids, lock me into a locker or locked area in the locker room, duct tape me up, that kind of thing? I tended to gravitate towards the adults at times.

I don't think I had much of a chance to make friends at the School From Hell. The mistreatment started not long after I arrived; just about blowing any chance I had with making friends. Whatever label they stuck on me, most likely stuck til I left. There was this counselor who actually compared me to a deaf girl who they claimed to be popular there or somewhere else. I don't think anyone really understood my hearing loss back then, much less tried. I heard from a former classmate that like her, we weren't quite accepted there.

Next - Part 3 of Teasing and Mistreatment

Friday, October 5, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 18

Teasing and Mistreatment - Part 1 of 4

We've known that younger kids with some sort of disability go through this type of thing to a degree in grade school. Some will experience virtually none, while others will just plain be rejected outright and worse. Sometimes it's moving to a new school that can help or make it much worse.

Those who didn't quite understand those who were different mistreated them in some way. There always were some who did and some who didn't care what your disability was. Sometimes it seemed they weren't around when you needed them most, or in some cases, didn't stick up for you. In other cases, they acted as if they were your friend when they were just putting on a front or an act.

In elementary, they didn't mistreat me at all, or so it seemed.

However, come the sixth through ninth grades, those were the worst years. I was always last to be picked for anything, no matter what. One kid was hurling stuff at my back. I came rather close to hurling my desk at him. I lived near several students from the same school. Some others knew where I lived and my phone number, so why didn't they bother me there?

If I tried to tell a teacher about what was going on, they'd attack me even more. What else was I to do? Should I have brought along something to defend myself? Should I fight? Damned if I did, damned if I didn't. I had enough of it with my own brother.

Next - Part 2 of Teasing and Mistreatment

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 17

Extracurricular Activities/outside of school

I was usually doing some sort of activity over time with someone if not by myself. I spent time reading books. It wasn't unusual for me to zip through a The Hardy Boys book in less than two hours in one sitting. I went through the classics, fiction, and mystery. Alfred Hitchcock, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, and many more authors' books I read, much of the time just once. It wasn't unusual for me to read the book and then watch the movie, as it would make the movie more understandable despite the differences with the movie and book.

I searched for all ten books in Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth series and finished reading through them in two months after taking time off work due to a knee arthroscopy. Stephen King's IT took a bit of time to read due to all the flashbacks and sudden returns to the present, which sometimes had me go back a chapter or a few pages. I've also got just about all of Zane Grey's books, but haven't quite been able to read them all. I've also read the first four Harry Potter books, and have noticed that Rowling wrote it in such a way, that even the late elementary school readers would understand it. But of course, since they kept getting longer and longer, it was getting a little harder to remember little details here and there at times. Not only that, but hard to put down once the real action started!

Now and then mom would say "...that book can't be *THAT* interesting!" when I didn't put it down to do something she wanted me to do. My brother would sometimes put his hands out like he'd be reading a book and put it close to his face and give it the 'up and down' reading look. I think I can make him do that again sometime...

All this reading is pretty much the reason why my English skills have been good. All through school through twelfth grade, I had English classes, never skipping a year. After school, I was home a lot since I was almost never invited places by kids in my classes, not even parties or anything like that. If I wasn't doing homework, I could be out playing some when I was younger, reading, watching TV, watching a movie, or some other thing.

Out at GMU, I took my hopefully-final English course, which was online. One assignment used a team of five people writing up something and then submit it to the leader to put together in the final report. I was the team leader. We did well, getting an A in our report.

A couple booksellers in Illinois and a librarian in Kentucky knew me well. Now to see if I can do it with one around the DC area.

Next - Teasing and Mistreatment