Deaf Parent Concern

  1. 0 I don't know if this topic necessary belongs in this area, but I don't post in General, I don't get any feedback.

    My bf of 5 years is 75 percent deaf in both ears. Evidentally his loss is the reverse of the more common hearing loss. Basically, you can have a conversation face to face with him and not notice he's deaf. (though he does wear one hearing aid- he says two gives him too much feedback or extra sounds or something- and he mispronounces some words.. for example he'll say "nub" instead of "numb", "tylenon" instead of "tylenol" but all are very small rare mistakes)

    Anyway, my concern is that later in his life he will lose more of his hearing. I believe his hearing has been stable since they caught the problem when he was seven. But I worry that he will lose more hearing later in life. He hasn't learned to sign because quite frankly he hasn't needed to. He has always been surrounded by nondeaf people, he's an only child and never had any speech problems once his hearing loss was diagnosed.

    But I worry that if we marry and have children, which we plan to do, that one day he will lose more hearing and have to sign. I've been thinking about learning to sign after I get my degree and then when we have children, teaching them to sign from birth. That way we'll be "prepared" if his hearing does become significantly worse. Deaf people teach their children all the time, and I even taught the infants sign language at a day care in which I worked and they began using it at 6-9 months. I realize that when a child learns two languages, their initial language development is a little behind, but they quickly 'catch up' (usually by 4 or 5 years of age) and are better off for being bilingual. I wonder if this would be true for Sign Language, I'm assuming so..

    So, I guess aftr that tedious story, do you all think it would be worthwhile to do that? Or do you think it would sort of be a waste of time considering my bf himself hasn't learned it and there is no evidence to show his hearing will decrease.

    Ok, hit me with the wisdom!
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  3. Visit  kea6783 profile page

    About kea6783

    From 'TX'; 31 Years Old; Joined Jan '04; Posts: 142; Likes: 1.

    16 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  sirI profile page
    0
    Quote from kea6783
    I don't know if this topic necessary belongs in this area, but I don't post in General, I don't get any feedback.

    My bf of 5 years is 75 percent deaf in both ears. Evidentally his loss is the reverse of the more common hearing loss. Basically, you can have a conversation face to face with him and not notice he's deaf. (though he does wear one hearing aid- he says two gives him too much feedback or extra sounds or something- and he mispronounces some words.. for example he'll say "nub" instead of "numb", "tylenon" instead of "tylenol" but all are very small rare mistakes)

    Anyway, my concern is that later in his life he will lose more of his hearing. I believe his hearing has been stable since they caught the problem when he was seven. But I worry that he will lose more hearing later in life. He hasn't learned to sign because quite frankly he hasn't needed to. He has always been surrounded by nondeaf people, he's an only child and never had any speech problems once his hearing loss was diagnosed.

    But I worry that if we marry and have children, which we plan to do, that one day he will lose more hearing and have to sign. I've been thinking about learning to sign after I get my degree and then when we have children, teaching them to sign from birth. That way we'll be "prepared" if his hearing does become significantly worse. Deaf people teach their children all the time, and I even taught the infants sign language at a day care in which I worked and they began using it at 6-9 months. I realize that when a child learns two languages, their initial language development is a little behind, but they quickly 'catch up' (usually by 4 or 5 years of age) and are better off for being bilingual. I wonder if this would be true for Sign Language, I'm assuming so..

    So, I guess aftr that tedious story, do you all think it would be worthwhile to do that? Or do you think it would sort of be a waste of time considering my bf himself hasn't learned it and there is no evidence to show his hearing will decrease.

    Ok, hit me with the wisdom!
    I am not an expert in sign language. I do, however know how to utilize the American Sign Language and have use this often with my patients and family members.

    I think this is an excellent idea. I commend you!! As for any language development lags, I have no evidence based facts to give to you. I would think that since this "second" language is nonverbal using gestures/signing that there would be very minimal developmental language issues.

    I wish you all the luck in the world and hope that his hearing problems do not become worse.
  5. Visit  kea6783 profile page
    0
    Quote from siri
    I am not an expert in sign language. I do, however know how to utilize the American Sign Language and have use this often with my patients and family members.

    I think this is an excellent idea. I commend you!! As for any language development lags, I have no evidence based facts to give to you. I would think that since this "second" language is nonverbal using gestures/signing that there would be very minimal developmental language issues.

    I wish you all the luck in the world and hope that his hearing problems do not become worse.

    Thanks for your response- when I tell close friends/family about the idea they seem skeptical, but I'm not gonna back down if it's something I think is necessary.

    Thanks again!
  6. Visit  MissJoRN profile page
    0
    Actually, current info is that babies/toddlers are capable of signing at an earlier age than verbalizing and that it does not seem to push back their ablity or desire to talk. I've read that in many cases the signing fades off when they find they get what they want even faster by verbalizing but I'm sure if signing is used consistantly they will continue. Go for it! If nothing else, it's fun! And think of the advantages as a parent...ever get into a conversation or situation where you need to communicate what you expect of your child but speaking wouldn't be very appropriate? things like "please, wait" "stop" "sit down" etc... It's great to be able ti sign to your kid, get your point across; let him know that you are there, paying attention, and will meet his need in a moment; and never interrupt your friend in the process. Besides, kids love a "secret language" I'm sure they'll like signing to each other as a special way to communicate. Oh and as far as secrets go... you can ask your husband what he thinks of, say, going for ice cream without your kids in the next room catching on and being disappointed if it turns out to be a bad idea.

    Have fun!
  7. Visit  sirI profile page
    0
    Quote from MissJoRN
    Actually, current info is that babies/toddlers are capable of signing at an earlier age than verbalizing and that it does not seem to push back their ablity or desire to talk. I've read that in many cases the signing fades off when they find they get what they want even faster by verbalizing but I'm sure if signing is used consistantly they will continue. Go for it! If nothing else, it's fun! And think of the advantages as a parent...ever get into a conversation or situation where you need to communicate what you expect of your child but speaking wouldn't be very appropriate? things like "please, wait" "stop" "sit down" etc... It's great to be able ti sign to your kid, get your point across; let him know that you are there, paying attention, and will meet his need in a moment; and never interrupt your friend in the process. Besides, kids love a "secret language" I'm sure they'll like signing to each other as a special way to communicate. Oh and as far as secrets go... you can ask your husband what he thinks of, say, going for ice cream without your kids in the next room catching on and being disappointed if it turns out to be a bad idea.

    Have fun!
    Thank you, Miss Jo!! Maybe you should give OP the links/articles regarding this. It might help her to educate her family/friends as well.
  8. Visit  Speechie profile page
    0
    You know, even if he does lose more hearing as he ages, the odds are he won't need to learn to sign unless he decides to join the deaf community. i've worked as a speech pathologist for 23 years, and i've seen many folks who have gradually lost their hearing. Generally, if a person has developed good lipreading skills over the years, as your bf has done, he will not need sign language to "hear" you.

    i do recommend signing with babes as a general rule, because it's wonderful for language development in general... and it's certainly not a bad idea to include your whole family. but, in a hearing world (which is the one your bf has been successful in so far) sign language will be a benefit, not a necessity.

    good luck in whatever you decide to do!
  9. Visit  llg profile page
    0
    You seem to have focused your thinking on you and your future children -- leaving your future husband out of the decision-making. If he has chosen not to learn sign so far, he may well choose not to learn sign in the future. What are his plans? His plans for dealing with any future hearing loss should be a key element in your decision.

    11 years ago I lost 60% of my hearing at the age of 38 and expect to lose a little more in the future (though not all of it.) I joined an online group for people who have lost some or all of their hearing as adults. Most "late-deafened adults" do NOT learn sign language. Most people with mild to moderate hearing loss and most people who lose hearing as adults were raised as "hearies," -- not as members of the Deaf culture. Our families and friends do not sign, thus making it not a good form of communication for us. Not growing up as deaf people, we do not learn the methods of interacting and communicating that deaf/Deaf children learn. We late-deafened people therefore have to rely on other strategies for coping with our hearing losses.

    Some late-deafened adults do choose to learn sign language -- which is very difficult to learn as an adult. However, it can be done. I suggest you talk with your future husband and research the world of late-deafened adults (as opposed to the Deaf community) and make your decision together. If he is interested in learning sign language, the go for it. It might come in helpful someday. However, I think it would be a mistake to try to force it on him and/or to assume that it is the best choice for him. He needs to come to his own decision about the best ways of interacting and coping for him.

    llg
  10. Visit  Gompers profile page
    0
    I agree - teaching your kids sign language from the start is a great idea. Not just because of your boyfriend's hearing loss - for their own language development as well. Plus, they will be bilingual as well, and that will only help them in life. It's a wonderful skill to have, and a beautiful language!!!

    My best friend's parents are both deaf. His mom is about 90% deaf, and it is because of anatomical problems so she's been deaf since birth. His dad is 100% deaf but was hearing until about age nine, and the deafness is the result of a horrible fever/infection that he got. They both read lips and talk - she can hear a little with her hearing aid, and he knew how to talk from childhood. They regret not teaching their three children sign language, and the plan was to teach all their grandchildren the language starting at infancy. As it turns out, two of their five grandchildren are deaf. One got a cochlear implant when he was less than a year old - and he's doing amazing. He does go to a school for the deaf, but once he reaches six he will go to regular kindergarden - the school he goes to now is helping him maximize his hearing and speaking potential so he will be mainstreamed later. The other child has more hearing capabilities and they might just do a hearing aid with her. However, the boy with the implant - my gosh - you'd never know he was deaf. Amazing technology.
  11. Visit  Gompers profile page
    0
    Quote from llg
    However, I think it would be a mistake to try to force it on him and/or to assume that it is the best choice for him. He needs to come to his own decision about the best ways of interacting and coping for him.
    Definitely need to ask him before anything, totally agree.

    Also agree that most adults who lose their hearing don't learn sign language. The deaf community is a very strong culture, and most of the time people are members from childhood on, or not at all.
  12. Visit  kea6783 profile page
    0
    Hey Friends,

    Thanks for the great advice. I have seen the benefits of sign language in nondeaf children (they can sign early on, much earlier than they can speak, and the sense of "owning" their words seems to give them great confidence). I have talked to my bf about this but he hasn't really come to any major decisions on the matter. He seems to just want to wait and deal with it later, I would like to at least start planning. (Maybe this is all coming from a bit of the "baby fever")

    My bf, Zach (hello! I could have given him a name earlier!) has said that he would only learn to sign if I went through the classes with him. He has taken a class in college before and didn't do too well in it. I would be more than willing to take classes once I get through with my BSN program and get my feet on the floor.

    I guess, ultimately, my biggest fear is that suddenly or unexpectedly he will lose his hearing and I don't want to be unprepared for that.

    Reading lips has been brought up, but I don't really think he does that. I only know a little about the deaf community and such, but I think his hearing is good enough that he doesn't depend on lips. Just as long as you're not covering your mouth and facing him he can understand. I wish I knew the specifics of his hearing loss so I could explain better.

    Then again, maybe I'm being paraniod about the whole thing. There is of course the greater possibility that he'll be fine and this won't be a problem, I was just thinking of being cautious.

    I guess better safe then sorry.. and hell, knowing the third language (I already know English, and some spanish) would make me more of an asset at work.

    thanks again,
    karen
  13. Visit  SusanJean profile page
    0
    Sign language is offered at our local colleges as a language requirement alternative. I think this is great!! It is a beautiful language.

    My daughter was fasinated w/ sign at an early age - less than 2 - found a self teach book at home and taught herself sign language. She loves to find others who can use it so she can hone her skills - she is 9 now.

    Good luck!
    SJ
  14. Visit  llg profile page
    0
    Quote from Gompers
    Definitely need to ask him before anything, totally agree.

    Also agree that most adults who lose their hearing don't learn sign language. The deaf community is a very strong culture, and most of the time people are members from childhood on, or not at all.
    Exactly. The world and experience of the late-deafened adult is totally different from that of Deaf culture, most members of which are raised as Deaf culture children. A few late-deafened adults join the Deaf community, but very few.

    Karen (kea6783, the OP) also said that she knows very little about her boyfriends actual hearing loss and prognosis. That is essential information needed for making any plans. For example, perhaps he would be a good candidate for a choclear inplant should he become profoundly deaf and therefore never need sign language.

    When I first lost 60% of my hearing (very suddenly, over the span of about 10 seconds one day) ... my reaction was similar to Karen's. I considered learning sign language in case I might find it useful in old age ... I worried about losing the rest of my hearing, etc. However, as I got comfortable with my new hearing level, those issues became less pressing to me. I have noticed the same phenomenon with new members of the online group I belong to for late-deafened adults. In the beginning, people are a bit panic-stricken and anxious to make specific plans. As they get more experience with hearing loss, it becomes less of a crisis. They mellow out a bit and learn to take this one day at a time. It sounds as if Karen's boyfriend Zach may be in this state of acceptance common in people who have dealt successfully with their hearing loss for some time.

    Medical science and technology is progressing rapidly and no one knows for sure what options will be avaible for Zach and me when we get older and perhaps face a future with less hearing. When I need more assistance, I will investigate the possibilities at that time and make the choice that is right for me. That's a healthy approach to a disability and it sounds as if it may be the one Zach is taking. In fact, it might be psychologically important for Zach to NOT learn sign language -- to maintain his cultural identity as a "hearie." One aspect of successfully living with a disability is to accept yourself as you are and to be happy with that -- as opposed to focused on trying to "fix it" and or be overly worried about the future.

    I don't mean to be critical of Karen at all with this post. Her questions about learning sign language are a normal response to a normal concern about the future. But Zach sounds pretty normal and healthy too as a person living with a hearing impairment -- maintaining his cultural identity as a hearing person and taking it one day at a time -- having enough trust in himself and in Karen to have confidence that they will be able to handle whatever comes, with whatever medical/technological help will be available at that time.

    As in my earlier post, I encourage Karen to respect Zach's wishes regarding the sign language issue (either way) and include him in the decision-making. Also ... to remember that late-deafened adults are very different from the culturally Deaf.

    Good luck,
    llg
  15. Visit  rn/writer profile page
    0

    reading lips has been brought up, but i don't really think he does that. i only know a little about the deaf community and such, but i think his hearing is good enough that he doesn't depend on lips. just as long as you're not covering your mouth and facing him he can understand. i wish i knew the specifics of his hearing loss so i could explain better.

    you might be surprised at just how much lip reading he is doing. even he himself might not be aware. your statement about not covering your mouth and facing him sounds a lot like what lip readers need. i have a slight hearing loss in the higher range where female conversation tends to be and occasionally it gets worse if i am battling allergies or some other kind of congestion. i found out how much i have learned to watch the speaker's lips when i couldn't wear my glasses one day and didn't "hear" as well. i don't read lips per se--that is, i can't turn the sound off the tv and know totally what's going on--but apparently i do use lip reading to supplement what i hear. i think this happens often with people who undergo a gradual transformation. the ability to read lips increases just as gradually and the person may not even be aware that they are developing this compensation.

    re; baby sign language. way cool idea. very tiny kids in our family (under a year) have been able to tell their moms they were tired or hungry or needed a diaper change. sign died out when words took over but it was
    adorable and useful while it lasted.

    miranda


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