When Elijah was born 12 years ago, I had been teaching deaf children for nine years. I knew what a cochlear implant was and I was a proficient SEE signer. Elijah was diagnosed at the age of five weeks as having a hearing loss and at nine weeks with auditory neuropathy. Once I started doing the research about cochlear implants and auditory neuropathy(AN) I realized that I wanted Elijah to have every chance to speak. I started signing with him right away. He was a premature baby who was developmentally behind in all aspects. He did start using some of his first signs around the age of twelve months. He was implanted at 17 months with one CI and turned on at 18 months. We haven't looked back since. I continue to sign with Elijah when his "ears" are off.
You may wonder why I chose to write about this today. I think sign language is a beautiful language, but not everyone in the world speaks it. You may be limited in how you communicate and it may also limit your reading skills. Notice I say, IT MAY LIMIT a person, I didn't say IT HAD TOO! I have many deaf adult friends who are doing well and communicate just fine! However, I have many former students who struggle at times and even some of those deaf adult friends do too. I chose the CI so that Elijah would have choices when he grew up. I want him to know sign, but I want him to have that choice and not be solely dependent on it. There are HEARING people out in the world who think lipreading is just as good as signing. They think an interpreter isn't needed and that the deaf person can understand just fine. There are deaf adults who have to advocate for themselves daily and I am sure Elijah will have to learn to do that too to some extent, but I wanted him to be able to communicate daily with his peers and others in his life.
Today I ran up against this struggle, trying to help a friend get an interpreter set up. I can't get into the details, but I was flabbergasted at how so many people don't understand the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it applies to access to communication for people who are deaf/hard of hearing. I will have to teach Elijah how to advocate for himself, I am sure, but at least he will have the language to do it.
THE SHADDOX BOYS
Jacob and Elijah Shaddox are brothers. They live with their mom, Mary, who is the writer of this blog. Jacob is 19 and is now four inches taller than his mom! He also has ADHD and gorgeous red hair. He is a freshman at a technical college studying computer maintenance. Elijah is 15! He is in 9th grade and he is not in ROTC at his high school. He also had red hair, but it is lighter and not as thick as his brother's hair. He is hearing impaired(auditory neuropathy) and wears two cochlear implants. He also has tourette syndrome, ADHD, OCD and anxiety! Mary just started her 25th year as a teacher of the deaf. She is also in her last semester of graduate school to be a diagnostician! She will graduate in December of 2015!