Posted by jennifer gibson on Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Ahh! So glad spring has finally arrived! The crocuses and forsythia trees are blooming right now in our backyard.  Such a nice change from the snow. 

Unfortunately it also beckons the birds (starlings) into our fireplace.  We've found one flapping around a couple of days ago which we rescued and this morning there were two of them which is extremely rare! The cats often would sit in front of the glass panel, staring into the fireplace which is sign that there is some activity happening in there.  They seem to think that it's a bird making machine, where the birds come from.  Rescuing them is a mix of chaos and confusion amidst the leaping cats, they follow me around meowing wanting to see what's in my hand.  There is nothing more amazing than holding such a small bird in your hands, it makes you realize just precious life is and appreciate the finer moments.

However, those finer moments do not include cleaning ash covered walls & ceiling after trying to catch a panicked bird.  Black ash and white walls are not a good mix.  Big sigh...

Lately there have been more posts on Facebook about dealing with children that have a hearing loss.  Some have hearing parents with no experience in dealing with hearing impaired people of any age.  They are at the stage where they need to make a decision whether their child should be mainstreamed or go to a school for the deaf.  They are debating about speech vs sign language.  Now, everyone has opinions in this regard, many who are hard of hearing or deaf and have a vast experience in dealing with these kinds of issues. 

Just to let you know, I grew up in a hearing household, I was the only one in the family with a severe hearing loss.  My parents had to learn how to sign to communicate with me when I didn't have my hearing aids on (ie: at night).  And you know what?  They still use it to this day.  It's a good mix to have someone sign and speak to you, it provides more information which is immensely helpful.  Now as a kid, I hated it whenever someone signed to me in public, I was horrified.  Why?  Because it was bad enough wearing large, bulky body aid on my chest for the world to see - to me, it was like walking around with the sign "loser" on my forehead.  It was hard, really hard being the only kid in school with a disability and dealing with teachers who had no clue how to deal with someone like me.  However, I did attend a special needs school for J-K and Kindergarten before going to a regular school.  Worst experience ever. Hence, switching to a "normal" school although it meant dealing with many issues and situations on my own.  In hindsight, it was a good idea going mainstream.  Why?  It's a more realistic setting because we live in a hearing world where everyone talks.  I rarely meet anyone who does sign language.  So, going to a hearing school set the groundwork for dealing with all sorts of people and educating them on hearing loss and how to talk to me. 

My point being, there is nothing wrong with having mixed education such as speech and sign language.  It really is helpful having both because you are getting more information, almost at the same level as a hearing person.  Still, it's not perfect.  Having a hearing loss makes it more difficult to be able to connect with other people, it's not personal nor intimate in any way - with hearing people, when they meet, they make an immediate connection and can relate to each other very quickly, there is a flow and exchange of feelings, emotions as well as information.  With a hearing vs hearing impaired person, there is a sense of space or disconnect between them, that close bond is missing. Not being able to hear correctly or follow the conversation with ease, makes it very hard to have engaging discussions.  Both of them are working hard just to maintain a dialogue and it's always feels awkward.  Just because you can "hear" them doesn't mean that you are "listening" to them, information has to be processed, not only through a hearing aid but also intellectually which slows down the overall conversation.  In my case, I often miss subtle cues or misunderstand what is being spoken since I missed what was being said and as a result, I tend to give the wrong impression. 

Even in my family, where everyone knows that I struggle to hear and follow conversations, I'm often left out, sitting alone in a chair while everyone else happily chats away.  It's partially due to the fact that it's difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of dialogue and I tend to get the impression that they get exasperated at having to slow down or repeat segments of the conversation.  I always feel bad about that.  And you know what? This is a common issue that many hard of hearing people go through, and not surprisingly, it can be a very alienating experience.  It's an unfortunate "side effect" to hearing loss which makes it difficult to be actively engaged in the society in this manner even with people as close as family members. 

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