There’s always a huge controversial debate going on about whether or not a deaf child should learn sign language, some people fearing that it might hinder speech development. There are just as many myths out of there as there are facts, and I don’t feel like summing up all of them. Rather, I would like to share my own, personal view on this subject.
When talking about a child I’ll be using “his”, but this totally counts for the little girls too. I’m just too lazy to type “his/her” every time, and “it” feels just too impersonal.
Each child and every parent is different. Some children have capabilities that other children don’t have, and everyone should strive to offer their child whatever works best in their situation.
First and foremost, I think it’s important to offer the child a good foundation for a language. If you teach a language, be sure that you can master the language yourself. Immerse the child in language, the most important thing is that the child learns to have fun with languages.
One thing to remember: Once the child takes off his or her processors, they’re deaf. I think it’s important to have backup communication abilities for these times. Myself, I can read lips very well since sound never really made sense to me anyways, so it was my only option. However, lip-reading isn’t easy, and it usually has to be done in less than ideal circumstances. I believe that a child which wears his processors almost non-stop will have a very hard time learning to speech read as it’s not really necessary to invest any time into it.
To learn an auditory language, it IS necessary to spend extra time with the child, to train with the child and go to audiologist and speech therapy sessions often. It isn’t fun for the child if you keep on ‘testing’ whether the child hears or understand something, just for testing purposes, but if you make discovering sounds and language fun, it will only be beneficial for the child’s personal development.
However, I think it’s important to have a backup plan, just in case. There will always be times where hearing is hard, if not impossible. It just feels better knowing that communication is possible at all times.
If you don’t know sign language, or aren’t fluent in it, I wouldn’t recommend teaching it to the child as a first language before the child earned a good foundation for languages. But once the child is confident in one language, I think it’s enjoyable for the child if there’s a way to communicate when the child doesn’t have access to his ears.
If you are motivated and willing to learn sign language, and you know you will be capable to provide him with adequate language input, please don’t keep yourself from signing. When done consistently, this will allow for earlier access to language, and… at some times it’s just fun to be able to break through the sound barrier together, as a family. I’m pretty sure that the child will also be thankful later that he gained the opportunity to learn another language.
Some people expect their child to score just as well as his peers. Some people are sad or disappointed if the child doesn’t develop amazing spoken language right away, but I personally don’t think that this is a huge problem as long as the child is happy and can play along with friends without problems. I believe speech therapy can solve pretty much anything, if you just go on with it long enough. The most important thing here is that the child can hear, communicate, live and strive.
Let him be an amazing, happy person, proud of who he is and what he has achieved despite, or even because of this amazing piece of technology.
Merry Christmas, my dear readers! I’m thankful for any and all likes, comments and follows I have received so far, and the ones that are still to come. It makes me happy to know that there are people taking the time to read and enjoy my posts. Love you all.