I’m writing this blog as the hard work and determination that Mums put in, to bring their deaf child up in the hearing world, often goes unrecognised. This one’s for you Mum!
I was born profoundly deaf into a hearing family who knew nothing about hearing loss. The prospect of raising children with hearing loss can be very overwhelming for new parents, and I’m thankful my mum was able to raise me to be the person I am today.
Here are three ways she has helped me succeed, despite my hearing loss:
Despite my hearing loss, my parents raised me orally, choosing to teach me how to speak, instead of using sign language as my primary communication method. I was fit with my first Phonak hearing aids when I was 10 months old, which allowed this to be possible. The main reason my parents decided to raise me orally is because they felt it was the main communication method for our family and community. (It was also easier to teach a deaf child to speak, than for all my family and friends to learn how to sign.) I’ve appreciated this decision, and now that I’m older I’ve also taken the opportunity to learn sign language on my own.
As my dad worked full time, my stay-at-home Mum was my biggest support in learning how to communicate. A Teacher of the Deaf visited our home to help develop my speech. We used lots of objects whilst speaking, using lip patterns with constant repetition. Every spare moment I had, Mum would practise my lessons with me. Eventually one day, I saw a car go past and I said “Ar” – my first word! From that day onward, they were reassured my communication therapy was working! I can’t imagine how scary it is, not knowing if your child is going to speak or not.
“…my Mum was my biggest support in learning how to communicate.”
Once I was in mainstream Primary school, I attended speech therapy sessions. I absolutely hated it at the time, but I can’t believe how much of an impact it has made, allowing me now to have good quality speech. My mum always ensured I had the right therapist and that my lessons were as successful as possible.
My parents had a tough time deciding whether to send me to a high school for Deaf students or a mainstream school, but when I was 11, they decided on mainstream. I’m grateful for this decision. Deaf schools are brilliant, but for my family and community setting, it was the right decision for my future.
Once they decided on my education path, my Mum stayed active in my studied, always making sure I had the necessary support at school. Throughout the 14 years of my education, my Mum was always at hand after school, at weekends and even during the holidays to help me if I struggled with school work. She also helped ensure I had a learning support assistant at school, who helped me in lessons as well as taking notes.
No matter if she had tons of ironing, cleaning or cooking to do, she just wanted me to succeed. There were countless late school nights and weekends taken up by catching up on things I didn’t understand, or trying to explain homework or revision to me, helping me write essays or going over new topics in preparation for the lessons ahead.
I didn’t ask to be deaf, but at that age, I always felt like it was a burden and it restricted me from trying to learn. If it wasn’t for Mum and her perseverance and encouragement I wouldn’t have achieved good grades.
A lot of people judged me at school, about how I was getting brilliant grades and always handing in homework on time, as if I made it look easy. But now, people have also judged me on my inability to do basic life skills, such as cooking and ironing. I just can’t win! I’ve had to put in extra continuous time and effort in everything I do, due to my deafness. In this case, my Mum always made sure I completed school work, picking up the extra chores for me. I wasn’t trying to be spoiled or lazy, as some people may think, but I would rather spend time focusing on completing work to a good standard, which my disability makes it more difficult.
The hard work and tenacity taught by my Mum resulted in me being very lucky to achieve fantastic grades, but I was lacking in life skills because they weren’t as important at the time. Life skills can be learnt later, as you’ve only got one shot at getting those grades which count towards your future!
So, to sum it up… I couldn’t have done it without you Mum, and the same goes to other Mothers of deaf children for not giving up on us. Like my motto states, ‘deaf people can achieve anything they dream of, given the right support,’ and I hope this blog reflects that.
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn’t prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, previously working as a Marketing Executive and now as an Events Coordinator for a deaf organization, as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.
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