Karen K

My name is Karen – I grew up in the western suburbs of Illinois – I am married have 2 children and a stepdaughter as well. My Parents are hearing — no one else in my family has hearing loss. My family never really considered me DEAF- esp my father it was hard on him that his “baby” was not perfect.

My mother had Rubella while pregnant w/me. I was tested as profound hearing loss — thus led me to believe its “hard of hearing.” Since I could hear/understand speech — telephone. After years of “training” w/ my siblings/parents to use the telephone made it more easier as I grew up.

For a long time I didn’t know WHAT i was… I mean I could fit in so easily in a hearing crowd and they would never know I had a hearing loss. With the deaf crowd I felt more “in tune” w/them. It lead me to years of confusion and mind boggling decisions in relationships — do I trust deaf peers? Do I trust hearing peers? This was especially true during my teen years. At times I found myself looking down on deaf peers because I felt more superior than them — cuz I could HEAR! Now looking back — how stupid was I ?!?!?!! My deaf peers now are brilliant people!

I’ve always wore 2 hearing aids… I didn’t feel compelled to have cochlear. IM happy for what I am now. Although the last few years my hearing has deteriorated … and I’m okay with it. Guess I just wish my siblings/parents would SIGN! My mother went to the John Tracy Clinic in Calif. when I was about 9 months old — to learn how to work w/ me and my speech. I would say she was very successful. She worked SO hard w/ me. And not only her, I had speech therapy for 13 yrs. And looking back — no I dot regret it one bit.

Boy … the schools I went to ? Emerson – in Elmhurst.. Lincoln school…westfield JR High in Bloomingdale.. HSHS in Darien. I dont recall ever seeing Sign Language until i was in Jr High. It was mostly total commmunication (sign/speech) in hs. I remember having nice teachers.. well maybe not all nice. There needs to be a DEAF school – w/ choices of ASL teaching… or total communication teaching not just for KIDS but for adults too !! They could use the education along w/ their kids. I admit i’m not all familiar w/laws – things but I beleive the interpreter programs need to be “licensed” for when it comes to signing to kids in school… ONLY education license?

REACH out !!! dont be afraid!! You’re in for a surprise of the wonderful deaf communities around you and ur family! Learn every option – ask tons of questions ! More importantly – love your child and ACCEPT your child. Once u do that, your child will flourish!

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