As the new ASDC Board President, I want to take a moment to introduce myself and tell you a bit about my background.
I am deaf, born to two hearing parents who had never met a deaf person in their life before they had me! Research shows that the majority of deaf children are born to hearing parents. I am a product of that statistic. My parents were told to not teach me ASL as that would hinder my speech development, to give me a cochlear implant straight away (implants were a new concept at that time), and to stress speech therapy so I could speak. Luckily, my father was working with a deaf colleague at the time. The whole family happened to be deaf, which is extremely rare, and they came over for dinner one evening to share with my parents what it is like to be deaf. That experience is what convinced them that ASL was the best starting place to introduce a foundation of language.
Language is SO important for any child’s development and is what should be considered first and foremost. My parents still utilized speech therapy, deaf mentorship, and hearing aids on top of ASL. A common misconception is that there is only ONE choice and you cannot have multiple approaches. ASDC’s mission and purpose is to bring us together, provide deaf mentorship, share resources, and create a community!
Fast forward decades later, I married my husband who is also deaf. We are both the only deaf individuals in our families. We assumed that our children would be hearing, as we have no history of deafness in our families. In 2016, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and he went in for his newborn hearing screening and it came back negative three times. The doctors’ looks on their faces were sorrowful and downcast when they told us that our baby was probably deaf. My first reaction was laughter! Obviously, this is because of the irony that they were speaking to two deaf parents. My next thought was, wow, so THIS is what hearing parents experience, who know NOTHING about deafness. I just happened to be lucky to already understand life as a deaf person and that my son would be perfectly normal and okay. Today, we are expecting our second child this August, and it is likely that he will also be deaf.
I only have a glimpse of what hearing parents truly experience in raising their deaf child as I already had all of the answers and knew exactly what I would do with my son. This is why ASDC is important to me as I was given a taste of what countless parents endure when discovering their child is deaf.
ASDC needs YOU, parents of deaf children, to tell us what YOU need from us. It is our goal to provide you with the resources and the services that you need right now, today, and tomorrow. Please do not hesitate to give us the ‘nitty-gritty’ on how we can improve our programs and our services.