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Charles on… anything that comes along

Tuesday 5 December 2006

Filed under: — Charles @ 12:03 pm

When deaf children hear

Jason apologises for not blogging more (durr, it’s part of being a parent, Jason):

Although it is regarded as almost scandalous to say it in certain circles we often ‘forget’ Tom is deaf. The bright blue coils stuck to the sides of his head are still there (complete with a picture of a tiger on one and a monkey on the other) of course so when I say ‘forget’ what I mean is that we don’t have to make any special considerations when we are talking to him. He repeats pretty much everything that is said, to him or otherwise, and his understanding is impressive and subjective. With his potty-mouthed uncle staying with us at the moment, that makes for some risque situations but, luckily, Tom hasn’t cussed at the vicar just yet. He’s at the age where he often chooses to ignore what is said to him because it isn’t in line with his desires - the fact is that most of our daily challenges are based on him being two rather than being deaf.

That’s actually very much in line with our own experiences with child3, who has simply amazed the people who come to evaluate him. Health visitor’s evaluation? “Age-appropriate,” she said.
We frowned: “For a deaf child?”
She grinned. “For any child!”
His speech is improving all the time - there’s hello, bye-bye, siblings’ names (if unclear, he knows what he’s saying, and that’s a key to speech), ‘ock’ (=sock, or sometimes clock), and loads more.

The Teacher for the Deaf is delighted and has cut back on the frequency of appointments. The implant centre’s visitor is almost stymied: “he’s giving a quality of responses we wouldn’t expect to see until he was three,” she said as he dropped Lego into a wastebin to order (it’s some sort of test, apparently). They’re almost out of tests they can do with him at this age; ideally, they’d need him to be reading to do some of the ones they really want to do.

He’s still deaf, it’s true, and always will be. But when he has his processor on, he can hear, and do all the things you’d expect of a hearing child (including ignoring you because he’s found something more interesting, or getting very grumpy about being denied something because he’s rising Terrible Two - which actually starts anyway at around 18 months). It’s as simple as that, really. You could argue that he’s dependent on modern technologies - processors, batteries - and is only a few days’ disruption away from being thrown back to a world without such communication.

However the argument that because something is artificial that we shouldn’t use it to overcome a disability is one that was lost with the first pair of glasses, first pair of contacts lenses, first pacemaker, first artificial hip, first heart transplant, first dialysis machine, first…

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