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Saturday, July 5, 2014

So You Want to Adopt a Deaf Child? Part 4 of...


Deaf Children Are Anything But Quiet!  

If you assume your home will be quiet and peaceful because you adopt a deaf son or daughter, you are mistaken!

Even though your deaf son or daughter may experience hearing loss, he/she will still probably have perfectly functioning vocal chords.  Do not mistakenly think having a deaf child in your home will ensure it to be a peaceful and quiet environment for you to enjoy.  On the contrary, in fact, the noise level caused by a deaf child could possibly elevate beyond anything your hearing child(ren) could produce and could be labeled "Dangerous Decibels" by OSHA.  This is not a joke!



Hearing parents of deaf children often share about their deaf children's yelling/screaming and how loud they are, much louder than their hearing siblings.  Hearing children can hear themselves and tend to regulate, somewhat, what comes out of their mouths, however deaf children cannot hear the sounds they make, fully, nor have any idea of their intensity on a hearing person. 

In institutions and orphanages often the only way a deaf child gains any attention is by making some kind of annoying sound to alert their hearing caregivers of some need or want they have.  That sound is rarely soft and easy on the ears.  This is one time the deaf child is fully aware of the noise they are making.  Much different from an infant who gives up crying when no one responds the older deaf child learns their crying out can manipulate others who are hearing to satisfy their wishes and gain them attention, even if it results in negative attention and/or discipline.  

Many hearing parents talk of the ear pain they experience when their deaf child cries, especially while being held, and wonder if it is acceptable to wear ear plugs.  The cries of some Deaf adults are so extremely loud and some of the most intense expression of emotion I have ever heard. Not something I will soon forget. These "natural" uninhibited expressions reveal deep emotions that hearing people rarely expose.

If we think of all the many sounds our bodies produce, naturally, we will gain a better understanding of all the sounds deaf children are oblivious to and what parents will be responsible to teach their deaf children about.  Keep in mind these children are older and larger when adopted meaning the sounds of their bodily functions will tend to be louder, as well.  Be aware since these are sounds the children never hear it will take much longer to help them learn to curtail the noises without constant reminders.  And they will often use them to manipulate getting what they want and/or maintaining control in a given situation especially in public places. Public places, where hearing parent's and sibling's embarrassment is greater, are some of the most common times deaf children's noises annoy family members the most.  

Chomping and smacking gum can be very annoying!
In addition, deaf children and some Deaf adults make sounds while working, playing, signing, eating and are never aware of them, unless a hearing parent or child or friend tells them.  These sounds can be grunting noises, clicks with their tongues while signing, popping knuckles, and so on.  Sounds made by clicking pens, tapping fingers on a table, stomping a foot--Deaf people feel the vibrations from this, but do not hear the sound--and the like are other actions hearing parents of deaf children sight as annoying.  Slamming doors and drawers (unintentionally, maybe, until a hearing parent brings attention to it), walking heavily or climbing stairs without carpet and even breathing heavily are other bothersome noises hearing parents mention on a regular basis.

Some believe it is inappropriate to alert Deaf people to the sounds they are making without knowing, especially if they do not ask.  The fact remains, dDeaf children and adults will always have hearing people (parents, children, classmates, friends, bosses, co-workers, spouses) they do life with on a daily basis.  Minimizing sounds that tend to bring negative attention from hearing people can only benefit the dDeaf as they learn to navigate well the hearing world they must live in. 


Check out Parts 1 - 3 of "So You Want to Adopt a Deaf Child?" on the SFH blog in May 2014.

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