Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

So, it's been a while since I updated but that's because saying that "Brynn is mostly the same" doesn't make for interesting blog posts. Still, Brynn is growing, and I promise I will post some pictures soon. Below is a rather long-winded travelogue mostly for Brynn's, Matt's, and my remembrance; but I share it here for any curious readers or parents of deaf children.

First, I'll give a short update on the various parts of Brynn's development; and second, an explanation of the weighty decision surrounding Brynn's deafness.

Eyes:
Still totally normal. ROP is completely gone and the retinas are permanently attached. Sometimes I still sit in awe to realize she could have been both deaf and blind. Wow.

Ears:
Completely deaf in both ears--at all frequencies and all decibels. She showed no response when given sound bursts at the equivalent of standing behind a jet engine. It is virtually impossible to be more deaf than Brynn is.

Growth:
Still very small and skinny for her gestational age--but looks healthy and happy and is gaining weight on her own curve so I'm not worried. She just turned 10 months real age (6.5 months corrected) and she is wearing some 0-3 month clothes, some 3-6 month clothes, and a rare 6-9 month outfit or two. She is still in size 1 diapers, but I think we'll move to size 2 soon. We haven't weighed her for a while but I think she's somewhere around 15 lbs.

Eating by Mouth:
She still gets virtually no nutrition by mouth but things are seeming to go in a slow, upward direction. She now loves fingers, toys, blankets, shirts, mom's arm, and even some taste tests of different flavors like cashews and bananas; but she still hates to swallow anything. As soon as the tiniest thing--liquid or solid--goes past her mid tongue, she heads into a coughing/gagging fit that often leads to retching. To avoid further trauma and negative associations, we try not to push her much.

Lungs:
Although we thought reflux and gastro issues were the main problems causing her vomiting, coughing, and gagging, we recently discovered that it was in fact her LUNGS that have been at the root. Since this discovery, I've often asked myself, "Did we do an unnecessary fundo?" But alas, that's one of those questions that will never have an answer and there's no turning back now, anyway, if it did. I try really hard not to dwell on the "what ifs" or regrets for that major surgery. That said, she does seem to have slightly improved with her retching and coughing as we toy with different lung-treatments.

In a nutshell, what's been happening with the pulmonary system is that she's been aspirating (i.e. saliva and/or reflux were going down the wrong pipe). When most children aspirate, the fluids go all the way into the lungs, creating problems with pneumonia, difficulty breathing, and increased oxygen needs. However, in Brynn's case, her lungs were so clear and looked so good in all her X-rays, no one suspected that problem. But she is, indeed, aspirating. Instead of letting the substances go all the way into her lungs, however, she is only letting them go into her vocal chords and airway. It's not life-threatening, and she will eventually outgrow the problem, but it does cause inflammation and irritation in the meantime. As such, it has been the cause of most (if not all) of her coughing, gagging, and vomiting. Apparently, it's something the Pulmonologist sees a lot in kids with feeding tubes because they don't get practice swallowing like normal kids do. Without the practice, the neurology just doesn't make the body handle substance in the mouth and throat correctly. I'm looking forward to when she has outgrown it since we will finally be able to make some oral progress.

Motor Development: Brynn is a few months behind in her motor skills. I thought that meant she'd be a few months behind for all her normal milestones, but I recently learned that it's not usually the case. Usually, it's a percentage. So since she's rolling over and doing things most 3-4-month-old children do at her corrected age of 6.5 months, that means she's 50% behind. So when most kids are crawling by 8 months, she will be crawling by 16 months--provided all continues to go well. So, lucky me, it seems I won't have to baby proof nearly as early as most moms! And hey, I figure that most parents wish they could have savored their children's early years, anyway, because those years go so fast, right? This slight delay in development just means I just get the opportunity to savor her childhood for longer!

Well, I think that's all the little updates. Now on to explaining our upcoming major decision.

Navigating "the Decision" of the Decade for the Deaf Community and Parents of Deaf Children:

For those not aware, a little-known world exists that calls itself "Deaf." Whereas the term "deaf" means a person has a physical inability to hear, the term "Deaf" means a person has chosen to identify himself or herself with a culture of other Deaf people. Many hearing people are concerned with this culture because it carries with it some negative implications--promiscuity, entitlement attitude, welfare dependence, drug experimentation, and homosexual lifestyles. Gossip is a particularly poisonous problem among many Deaf members.

But the Deaf love their culture and I am just now beginning to really understand why.

As a parent, I'll admit I was (and still am) concerned about a difference in both the morals and the values between the mainstream Deaf culture and my own LDS culture. But I suppose mainstream American culture shares many of the same attitudes, anyway, and I almost wonder if all the "hype" is just people's tendency to focus on the worst. After all, strictly speaking from my own limited experience, the ratio of good, hardworking Deaf people to those who have (in my very limited judgment) made dysfunctional, self-limiting, and morally-questionable choices seems to be about the same ratio I see in the hearing world. So I suppose we'll just have to do the best we can just like other parents to educate Brynn on the principles of Happiness and then let her decide for herself whether she chooses to be part of the Deaf, hearing, LDS, or some combination of cultures.

Anyway, I've recently had some realizations that have helped me understand the Deaf culture better. It seems to me that it all boils down to how one defines the problem of deafness.

Most hearing people think the biggest challenge of deafness is that the person is unable to hear. If you can make them hear--or at least function as a hearing person via lip-reading and speech drills--you can overcome all the challenges of deafness.

But if you ask a Deaf person what the biggest challenge of deafness is, they will tell you a different story. They say the biggest challenge of deafness is the feeling of isolation. To illustrate, when asked which of her senses she'd prefer if she could choose just one, Helen Keller said, "Blindness separates you from things, but deafness separates you from people."

Here are some statistics to illustrate:
  • 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents
  • 1-10% of mothers learn sign language. I've heard it estimated that only 0.3% of fathers learn.
  • Because most hearing parents' situations do not allow moving to a deaf school, around 80% of the students are essentially raised by the dorm employees. The students live at the school Monday through Friday.
  • I've heard it said from several places that molestation and sexual abuse run rampant in the deaf schools and deaf camps--with older students and dorm monitors both being the perpetrators. Rumors? I don't know. Scary prospect? Absolutely.
  • At home on the weekends, because their family can't communicate with them, most children are completely isolated from parental or familial influence. Sure they can understand a motion to "pass the salt," but for the most part, dinner conversations go on without them while they sit in silence.
Often those who end up at Deaf schools are there because they failed at reaching their parents' first wish--to function as a hearing person. The parents' ideal has often been to create what they consider to be a "fully functional" deaf person by giving them every opportunity to hear, learn and communicate in English. To do this, they give them hearing aids and cochlear implants, put them in oral-only programs that require absolutely no use of sign language for fear it might impede their desire to learn to communicate with their voices.

These are not bad parents. They are good people trying to solve the problem as they see it--overcome the inability to hear and the rest will take care of itself.

Unfortunately for many of the Deaf that wind up in Deaf schools, those "solutions" have only compounded the feeling of isolation--spending childhood in an Audiologists' office instead of the playground, having to wear a hearing aid or cochlear implant and be teased by the other children (they used to hang down in a large, heavy box on the chest instead of the smaller more discreet options they have today), and enduring "oral only" programs that they ultimately failed.

One woman fought back the tears as she related a story to me (in ASL) about how the teachers at her oral school required her parents to use NO sign language at home. She was never able to progress with her speech or her understanding of English and it wasn't until she was 9 years old that she was considered a "lost cause" and moved to a sign language program. In this new program, her mother was finally allowed to say "I love you" for the first time in a manner that this woman could understand.

As for the Deaf students whose parents wanted them "mainstreamed" in hearing schools, they have to go through their school years with a full-time interpreter. This interpreter relays everything from classroom instruction to adolescent conversations and jokes. Talk about awkward for any teenager to have to do! I can only imagine the isolation the students in this category feel.

I do not mean to suggest people had ill intent, or that hearing aids, cochlear implants, or stressing oral communication is a bad approach. For many deaf people, these approaches have opened many doors of opportunity to live and work in a dominantly hearing world. But I do mean to illustrate that many Deaf have ended up feeling bitter about being forced to conform to a hearing world when it neither came naturally nor comfortably to them. The people that lacked the talent for lip reading and mechanical speech (just like some people lack artistic or mathematic talent) failed these programs and grapple with feelings of inadequacy for the rest of their lives.

Finding comfort and solace in a community of similar people, making friends with people who understood their struggles, and discovering the joy of uninhibited human-to-human interaction, these deaf people become absolutely loyal to their language--ASL--and to their culture--the Deaf. Regardless of their private or moral choices, what glues these people together is that common connection.

The Deaf are, for the most part, wonderful people. They have faced incredible odds and have come out fighting. They welcome anyone that wants to learn their language with open arms. They are endlessly patient with me and everyone else who tries to learn ASL as we stumble through our attempts at communication. They are tolerant. They are social. They are incredibly intelligent.

I love the Deaf.

Which is why it's extremely hard to make a decision for Brynn that so many of them will disagree with and misjudge me for. Not all--but many--Deaf feel as though a hearing person giving a deaf child a cochlear implant is the same as a Deaf parent giving their hearing child surgery to remove the cochlea. Deaf think it's a hearing parent's way of not "accepting their child for who they are." And even worse, they think you are robbing the child of the right to choose. They say that if the child wants a cochlear implant, they can go at age 18 and get one.

But from a medical person's standpoint, there is only a small window of time where the brain actually learns to process, and make sense of sound. That window is between birth and 3 years old. If a parent waits much past that age, the chances of a cochlear implant succeeding go WAY down. Now in some cases, the child can have access to sound without undergoing surgery by using a hearing aid or other sound amplification technique. Still other children don't lose their hearing until after age 2, when the brain has already learned to process sound. In those cases, you could conceivably wait until the child is older; but in Brynn's circumstance, to wait would be to shut her off completely from that opportunity.

In essence, under the guise of not forcing her to become hearing, I would actually be forcing her to give up that option if she did eventually want it.

For example, my friend, who decided to let her son choose whether he wanted the surgery as he got older, took him in for the evaluation at age 8. He had decided he wanted the implant. But because he had developed so little speech, the Audiologist said he was not a candidate. So what was the ultimate result of waiting until he was old enough to choose? The Audiologist made the choice for him instead of his parents--and he still didn't get to choose for himself. The 8-yr-old boy was crushed.

Furthermore, in addressing the question of whether we are "accepting Brynn for who she is," as if being deaf or hearing somehow defines who a person is, Matt and I must say that we do not believe in any external feature or trait defining a person. We firmly believe that every human being is a child of God and that God alone fully understands Who they are. "For the LORD seeth not as a man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (1 Sam 16:7).

We also believe in the resurrection of our bodies. This means that after death, our spirits and bodies will be reunited, never to be separated again (D&C 138:17 and Luke 24:39). These bodies of flesh and bone will not be mortal, as they are now, but immortal--and perfect. Inherent in that perfection comes the ability to see, to touch, to eat, and to hear. If deafess defined Brynn for WHO she is, she would then, therefore, remain deaf in the next life. But I do not believe that she will be, nor do I believe a person can be defined by such a narrow thing.

So, in order to preserve her freedom to choose, which we hold as one of the most eternally sacred rights and privileges; and in order to teach Brynn that her spirit is the only thing that will ultimately define her; Matt and I have chosen to give Brynn the cochlear implant. That way, Brynn has the greatest chance of being able to hear, speak, and communicate. BUT, we also plan to teach her ASL, surround her by good Deaf role-models, and open up that world to her as well. In this way, by giving her access to both hearing and Deaf cultures, and putting her in a position where she has the skills to choose either (or some of both), we are ultimately giving her more choices, more opportunities, and more freedom than we could ever otherwise give. Furthermore, we believe this approach will minimize the feeling of isolation--which is the core difficulty.

With the flood of different advice that has come our way since we found out Brynn is deaf, we could not and did not approach this decision lightly. It was a difficult decision to say the least. But I believe the basis for our decision is the most balanced approach we can take.

That said, it still may be impossible for her to receive the implant. We have some tests to run first: to make sure her diagnosis is correct, that she actually has and auditory nerve, and that the cochlear implant has a good chance of working in her individual case. Then, as required by the insurance company, we will also have to do a short trial run with hearing aids to ensure that she is, indeed, profoundly deaf.

But since most of those tests have predictable results given the tests we've run already, Brynn should be as good a candidate as any. If all goes as planned, she should have the surgery sometime before the end of the year.

After that, only time will tell. With Brynn's diagnosis of auditory neuropathy, the cochlear implant really only has a 50% chance of helping her to hear. We feel encouraged, however, that another child in Brynn's almost identical situation (born 24 weeks, cared for in OP NICU, had the same diagnosis, and used the same surgeon and audiologist that we will use) is currently doing very well.

To all our Deaf friends:
We love you and hope you can accept our decision regardless of whether you agree with it. If you cannot accept our decision, we still love you.

To Brynn: We love you and we hope you will always be happy with the many, many difficult decisions we have had to make on your behalf. We are doing our best to increase your array of choices that you might feel free to become the best you.


Much Love,
Mom & Dad

17 comments:

My Three Sons said...

Wow. You could've majored in English. And you could have been the national debate champion! I think you and Matt are the sweetest people alive.....

Kirsten said...

Wow Nat. You guys are great. I think your choice makes excellent sense. And, even if she wasn't deaf, ASL is a great way to help her development. It's been amazing with Brit. And, there are so many more people she'll be able to communicate with if she does end up hearing.
Also--sounds like she'd doing amazing with her weight. Brit's 17 months and barely weighs 20 lbs. He was 17-18 at 12 months. That's great!

Matt + Natalie said...

My good friend Katie Ford, who is deaf, gave me permission to transfer her note to me into this blog for Brynn to have someday (I hope to print this blog into a book for Brynn's keepsake):

Nat,
You made the right decisions...I'm proud of you and I'm proud of the opportunities you will be giving Brynn. I know that whether she learns to accept or to not accept the cochlear implant, knowing you and Matt wanted her to be able to experience more and to have the opportunities that not many people may have. I just hope she won't grow up to feel insecure. I think she may help others learn more about the deaf culture and to embrace it more. I believe God has not only made us each an unique individual with our own struggles and obstacles, but to learn to overcome them with our own potentials and abilities. I agree parents that made the choices for their child at this stage aren't bad people, they just want the best for them and I know that's where my parents and you are at. I may hate my cochlear implant but I realized that it could help me in my career if I wanted to continue pursuing my labor/delivery rn degree or to be an elem school teacher but most of all I WANT TO BE ABLE TO HEAR MY CHILDREN laugh, talk, and even crying. This brings tears because it made me think...children are the most beautiful "sounds" we may hear and I'd like that opportunity. So what you decide, its completely for the best. I love you and your family and will always do. I'm always here and I know I'll always be there to help teach you more ASL and to help introduce Brynn and you guys more into the deaf world. Next thing is you'd need to get her alarm system with doorbell and a videophone hahaha! Not for several years ;) I love you and I know you guys have made the best decisions you could have made.

Alyson said...

Excellent, excellent post. It is clear to see you haven't entered into this lightly, and that you haven't kept yourselves in a bubble: you've looked at this from every angle multiple times, and thought not only of earthly but eternal ramifications.

I know you still have years and years to think of this, but I thought I'd plant this tiny seed with regard to Bryn's future school, so you can throw it into the mix of all the many decisions: homeschool. :) She'll have a teacher who loves her, who earnestly wants what's best for her, who will teach her your values ;), and who will be able to mainstream her into a [small] classroom far more ably than public school ever could. You know, that's just my 2¢.

I wish you all luck and blessings. You're doing admirably well. Keep it up.

The Next Dave Barry said...

As a parent I share your fears for my own children's moral choices as they grow, even before I take into account emotional or physical handicaps. The most beautiful part about this story is that Brynn doesn't have to "hear" to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. Isn't it marvelous that she will have access to the guidance and protection of the Holy Ghost as she grows and makes decisions. Thank you for sharing your struggles and feelings with us!

Andrew said...

Natalie,
I have read your blog. Good luck for your daughter.

I was use old way a hearing aid in 1970's. I was in dorm for 3 years in New Jersey (MKSD). I know, what is diffrent dorm and live with parent for deaf school. Since, you are live same town in Kansas School for the Deaf, you don't have worry about dorm :-)

Andrew

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog. I know you do love your daughter very much! you want to do best for your daughter's life. :) you are good mother also your husband is good father too.
Hug,
Cheryl

Matt + Natalie said...

My friend Kristin Brodie gave me permission to copy-paste this one in, too. She said:

I had the opportunity to befriend a deaf student, Ben, while I was studying at MIT. He was a few years behind, I believe in terms of age of other students, but he completed his degree - taking a year extra, and has gone on to have great success in work. He does computer work and worked in Boston for awhile and then moved to DC. While, I have not heard back from him since hearing about this, he chose to have cochlear implants put in awhile back. I know it's a long haul healing process, and I hope it goes well for Brynn. Unless I"m a total bonehead, I believe you're going to try to have the implants done? Anyways, Ben has been an inspiration to me because he was always so positive and upbeat and never once gave me any impression of being frustrated by not being able to communicate as effectively as he would've liked. Ben was raised an orthodox Jew and while that's obviously not the same as our religion, it's darn close in terms of commitment, family support, community support, and trusting in the Lord. It also meant that Ben had many friends all growing up and never had to feel alone, even if his friends didn't speak sign language, they would find a way to communicate.

alatarielsun said...

Wow, what a difficult decision to make, and in all honesty, I do believe that you are going the best way about it. It can be hard to express to people with so much Deaf pride (and I'm not saying pride in a bad way) how having an implant can help a child in this world and in society. I love the Deaf community and the Deaf culture, I've spent my whole life trying to dance along the line of the Deaf world and the hearing world. Giving Brynn the option of both, (to an extent) is going to help her a lot. I know you both love your daughter very much, and I know that you wouldn't make such a huge decision without really thinking it through and praying about it. You both are wonderful and Brynn is so blessed to have great, loving parents!

Dawn

Lyndsay said...

Wow! That was a beautiful and well-written post. I did not know you were going through this. I think your choice is very balanced and lucid! I attended Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for grad school. It is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). And I was happy to call many deaf students friends, and even had the opportunity to be a notetaker for many of them in our classes together. It was really interesting to get a glimpse of their culture for the 2 years I was there.

I have a friend I met through the blogosphere (and visited with in person a few times when we lived in Mesa). She is LDS and has a grown daughter who is deaf (and married with a child now). I am sure she would welcome an e-mail if you ever wanted to talk with her. You can find her here:
http://stuphfromsteph.blogspot.com/
(Her name is Stephanie Romney.)

Rachel said...

I found your blog through a friend. I am LDS and deaf. I married my husband who is hearing and our daughter is hearing. My husband is an interpreter. He has grown up with 3 deaf brothers. They all tried Cochlear Implant at later ages and it wasnt successful for them. I had implants on each of my ear. One was broken and is unable to replace. Another one, I could use the implant but I just chose not to.

I understand how you feel. I am sure my mom understand how you feel . When my mom found out I am deaf, she is determined to make sure to not allow anyone put pity on me because shes determined to raise a child as normal as other children. Deaf Schools and teachers always tell my mom that I will never go above 6th grade reading level. It really caused my mom to be upset. Shes determined to teach me how to read, write,and much more. I grew up being mainstreamed with deaf program and I loved it but there are challenges but it is worthwhile. My parents will never send me to a deaf school because they wants to be there watching me grow up.

I am sure you will want Brynn stay close and be raised as other children. Go for it.. Expose her to many ways and she'll be ok. She'll be unhappy at times when she doubts her deafness. I DO doubt my deafness sometimes but I do overcome. I grew up playing sports in my community, church, and family. I didnt really get involved with deaf community until my high school years. I had an experience of playing on deaf team for volleyball league few years back. I am NOT used to the communication around us yet I dont feel challenged in this sport with deaf people. I dont know why but I prefer hearing teams.

My husband has 12 brothers and sisters and only 3 of them are deaf. My mother in law tried to place the twin boys into public school and it wasnt successful. When they turned 7 they got transferred to deaf school and they loved it but the biggest challenge is language delay. I had hard time communicating with them. Their youngest son who was born deaf, the learned their lesson and placed him in deaf school and he was successful. All of family members sign but not quite fluent as others but enough to communicate with.

Just MAKE sure you keep up with teaching her how to read, write, and such so no matter which school you place her that will tell you that she cant do this and that. It is important that you help her with her language and help her become successful regardless of what people say.

I hope things'll work out for Brynn with CI.

Sorry if you were taken back with my comment from a stranger. I just thought you would like to know from my perspective.

Robert and Lindsay said...

Natalie,
I was introduced to your blog about a year ago by Robert's parents, Calvin & Nancy Hunsaker. Matt & Robert are cousins. We didn't have a blog at that time, but I looked at yours often to see how you and your sweet Brynn were doing. I recently started blogging so I wanted to introduce myself. I hope it's okay we've read your blog from time to time. I've always found such strength and inspiration from your blog. I can't even begin to imagine the feelings and trials you've gone through over the past year. You really are an amazing woman and I look forward to meeting you someday. Hopefully we can stay in touch better as family members through this blog world. You are in my prayers as you deal with the many decisions you have to make with Brynn. From reading your blog in the past, I know you are being guided by the spirit. I add my testimony that I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are aware of our everyday trials and struggles no matter how big or small. Thanks for your inspiration and example.

Lindsay Hunsaker

laura said...

Hello Natalie,
I woke thinking of you and your family today and checked your blog to see how you were. It was wonderful to meet Bryn this summer. She is a beautiful girl and I was surprised and pleased to see what a wonderful, happy baby she is. You and Matt are terrific parents and handling the challenges well. Do you get a break every once in a while? I hope you have someone you trust.
I love this post and wanted to comment even if it was written awhile ago.
Making parental decisions is not only incredibly difficult but it is emotionally wrenching as well. Nevertheless, you do it well. You have gathered information, talked to people with differing opinions, thought about what is best for Bryn and sought divine guidance. It would be so much easier if our decisions could be made with hindsight (I still wonder about an early surgical decision we made that had lasting repercussions, but probably saved his life), but it doesn't work like that and we wouldn't learn anything.
Christoph was deafblind. His hearing loss was at 90db. Even with such a significant loss it was his preferred sense following touch. I believe he used every little bit he had exceptionally well because he loved people and he wanted to connect with them and share his spirit. So much of his world was isolation.
I agree with Helen Keller. I have a dear friend who is deaf and a good friend who is blind -I love them both dearly, the quote has gotten me thinking about our relationships and how their type of loss affects it.
If I could have given Chris anything, it would have been more opportunities to interact with those around him. He would have loved the chance to hear birds sing, but I think he would have loved to hear people express their love for him in words even more. I don't think he would have been a good candidate for CI, but if he would have been, I would have seriously considered it. We used everything we could to enhance his means of communication; hearing aids, hand-in-hand sign, gestures, verbal cues, object cues, technology and loving interveners (deafblind interpreters). It was loving interaction that made the most difference in his life. I think it is the same for all of us. You will always give Bryn your selfless love and she will blossom.
Laura

ps. and you will never go wrong by learning and using ASL!

Mara Schasteen said...

Beautifully written, amazing post, Natalie. What an honor to know you.

kim said...

Dear Natalie,

I finally had a few minutes while Melanie is asleep to find and catch up with your post. I am moved by your journey and blown away by your resolve. You have done an incredible job at your research and I couldn't be more impressed and shoked by what you have found. I took ASL in college and wish I could have taken that knowledge further, but.....life gets in the way. You are totally doing the right thing and you are also so blessed that we have an (from what I have heard) incredible deaf school right here in town. I wish you and your family all the best. All our love, Kim and family:>

Brady and Rachel said...

WOW! Natalie you worded it perfectly. Thank you for the explanations. I can only imagine what a hard decision it was for you guys to come to this conclusion. You are doing what you feel is best for your sweet baby girl and I have no doubt Heavenly Father has helped you to make the decision you guys have chose to make. I wish you guys the best, especially cute little Brynn, with the surgery and recovery when the time comes. Hoping it comes sooner rather than later for her. Get feeling better Brynn. Your in our prayers!

Anonymous said...

Hello Matt and Nat..

Am Deaf the rest of my life, and so will my peers I grew up with, and all my deaf friends. Despite of all the assistive devices, such as hearing aids, etc.. No matter what type, I honestly do not know of any that would want to wear in order to hear, except maybe a few just to enjoy hearing the sounds and speak with their deaf accent. Is it because they can hear and understand people talking every word they wanted to? No! If they can hear every word, they wouldn't be in a deaf school the first place, or whatever program being in duh! It is not working, and actually we simply just can't understand of the words said when using any type of hearing devices. A hearing teacher can talk to death, try every way they can to see if we can hear to understand. Day in and out, they keep trying and trying. All day long, they talk and sign at the same time but not in ASL, and they don't know ASL anyway. They would be using Sign Exact English, and call it Total Communication, or maybe as an excuse as well because they just sign horribly but talk verbally yet still. Again like what I said, not even one of us could hear words much at all to let alone understand, but maybe a few of us, just a few words. Who will ever become hearing like you hearing people, and like we care? Believe it or not we don't care anymore to the point knowing its futile at the very beginning once wearing any kind of hearing aid they have invented! Will we ever become hearing? No, and yet hearing people force it upon us.

We are trying to embrace and acquire ASL, and if any of us are lucky at all, and if in addition have any proficiency in English! Hearing people are forcing us as always, and to become hearing is really LAME especially to sound like an ass! But they don't care, and ignorant in most cases! Except those making money or a living off us for self gain! All Deaf kids are victims of psychological and physical abuse, and scarred mentally the rest of our lives, and that ASL that mostly had been taken from us and even English became elusive as well. Think about it, and selfish of all of you hearing people to want us to become hearing!

Michael Bunjer