I have been thinking of something the past couple of days.....actually I have been thinking of quite a few things the past of couple of days =) ....but there are two that have been mixing together and kind of standing out in my mind. Let's share and see if you have any feelings about it as well.
I was having lunch with a friend the other day before I gear up to be back at school and private therapy time. We were talking about families and gossiping about other friends. She was catching me up on her grown boys. They are a fantastic family and of course, she beams when she tells me about them. When I tell you what they do, you will think; those aren't boys, those are grown men, but to us mothers....they will always be children in our hearts!
As I was saying, she did get a look of concern when she began telling me about her youngest. He is a military man and out on tour of duty. I asked her what was wrong and she said; 'Oh Cathy, he had to go get his hearing checked and he is profoundly deaf in one ear and moderate to severely deaf in the other.' My heart went out to her because we both understand completely what a hearing loss means to any individual, adult or child. Fortunately, her son and the family have already begun to look into hearing aids and what services are available to him and what can be done after he leaves the military branch. How is that for a proactive family! But what bothered me more than anything was when she told me that most people have reacted with 'Oh, that's too bad.....well, at least it's not a leg or another type of disability.'
A disability is a disability! I know people look for the 'right things' to say to console someone hurting. If you really can't think of anything just give them a hug and let them know you care.
The bother in this instance for me....hearing loss is still misunderstood or not understood at all. Hearing loss, like any other disability, limits what is available for what can and cannot be done for adults looking for a job or how they live their lives. Now I did not say 'closes the door' on can and cannot be done, but it limits in the fact that accommodations and/or modifications will come into play for what can and cannot be done. And you know that old saying, 'It's nothing personal' - well I agree with Meg Ryan in 'shop around the corner' -"What does that mean anyway, if anything it should be personal! It's personal to me!"
And I truly dislike the saying - 'I know what you mean' - no you don't unless you've been in that particular position. My point? Let's remember what it means when the ones we love find out about a disability and remember that any disability is a loss...and there is a process to go through for everyone.
My other thought on my mind? I guess this hit me about the same time I was trying to understand why someone could not understand what a hearing loss was all about.
This past week were full of meetings for back-to-school. You know the ones, we all learn something but will never admit it and just want to get back to getting ready for the students. This year our district will be addressing the issue of bullying; hitting it hard with administrators and teachers and sharing strategies with the students.
While we were going through these meetings, a co-worker leaned toward me and said, 'the hearing impaired children don't really understand bullying or teasing, do they?'
Bullying is bullying! And once again, I tried to understand where this person was coming from. Now what I do understand and others may be looking for is clarification of the term 'bully'. You know when someone is being bullied, but do children know the difference in bullying and teasing and sarcasm and maybe just being bothered because someone wants to know about them. Hearing children do have a
distinct advantage in learning the subtleties of 'fun teasing and sarcasm' vs. 'being mean'
Social innuendos are things we do need to teach and discuss with our children who have a hearing impairment. While I have been thinking about this I received my latest 'Volta Voices' - a publication put out by A G Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing - which has an article regarding Bullying and Hearing Loss. http://www.listeningandspokenlanguage.org/Document.aspx?id=1191
Check it out - this article addressed my thought process and helped with a general overview. There is so much more to understand. Bullying extends across many areas - if not all.
So ... what do you think?