The Deaf Child in the Family and at School: Essays in Honor of Kathryn P. Meadow-Orlans

By Patricia Elizabeth Spencer; Carol J. Erting et al. | Go to book overview

solution is personally derived, utilizes their innate resilience and invulnerability, and may not match the perceptions or recommendations of professionals or advisors encountered.

Whereas parents struggle with finding the best communication vehicle for their family, the deaf child or adolescent must find a place within the family, community, and society. Their comfort in the context of both the family and community provides them with opportunities for the consolidation of identity.

I was frustrated because my family was hearing, and they left me out. I felt different from them; sometimes I don't feel like I belong with them. Even though they are my family, there is love, but in other ways its different because I'm deaf, and they are hearing. I sit out from their activities. I get so upset just because I cannot communicate with them -- I want to have fun with them. I wonder if its because I am deaf that I cannot be involved with them. My goal for this coming Thanksgiving or for a future Thanksgiving: I would like to host a Thanksgiving dinner party for any of my deaf friends who feel left out. They are welcome to come to a deaf Thanksgiving party. Someday..."

The development of a personal narrative has not only a profound impact on the individual child, adolescent, or adult, but also a community wide influence on social perceptions, which, in turn, create a more hospitable culture and environment in which to grow. From the 1800s, when the deaf community held banquets in France and intellectuals flocked to witness wondrous deaf narrators, to the contemporary appreciation for folklore in the deaf community and the transmission of seminal stories to the community at large (e.g., Deaf President Now, etc.), narrative has empowered the entire community. Stories demand a community audience and compel societal acceptance and recognition of individuals who are deaf; they form the matrix of a powerful force that can advocate social change. This cultural and community identity consolidation also serves to preserve language, strengthens the self-esteem of children, adolescents, and adults, and assures children future role models.

Every child deserves to be "heard" and understood by a loving and empathetic adult. Regardless of modality, the adult(s) must both share a symbolic code or representational world with the child, reducing the solitary experience of an unexpressed existence, and help build a language system that can reflect, share, and modify inner cognitive and emotional experiences in the re-creation of the child's everchanging personal narrative.


REFERENCES

Broyard A. ( 1992). Intoxicated by my illness. New York: Fawcett Columbine.

Cox M., & Theilgaard A. ( 1987). Mutative metaphors in psychotherapy: The aeolian mode. London: Tavistock Publications, Ltd.

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