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Sunday, February 26, 2017

THE RULE OF DUMB

"Deafness is genetic.  All people who are Deaf will pass Deafness onto their children."

There is a type of Deafness that is genetic, and some Deaf people do have Deaf children, however, 90% of all Deaf people were born to Hearing parents and will also have Hearing children.    There has been no proven scientific basis for the policies of Eugenics that have plagued Deaf adults since this country was founded.

What does this all mean? I have had deafness for 66 years if my life. As a young child, I suffered from a severe case of mumps that gradually eroded my hearing. No one, including my parents, knew until I was 11-years old. They thought I was just stupid or lazy or both. I paid heavily for my deafness, like buying an elephant you have no need for or a place to put it.

My early failures in school led me to criticism and verbal abuse. It also handed me physical beatings from frustrated parents who didn't know any better and couldn't accept the embarrassment of having a child who was a failure. I was giving them a bad name.

I remember when I found out from a very special lady that helped me discover I was deaf and so deaf that I should have never gotten as far as I did. After years of hardship in the classroom and the kitchen table at night, getting slapped across the face for not ‘learning', we moved from the oppression of the Catholic school of Brooklyn to a public school on Long Island. It was a liberating experience because compassion took over in my life from my parents.

There was a school nurse, a Miss Wager, who through routine tests of students by the school district, gave me my first hearing test and discovered I was deaf. This was a relief for me, and I'm sure, to my parent's pride. No longer would I have to face the mysteries of why I didn't know something, with my new-found knowledge, I was accommodating the deafness by Compensating for it. I sat in the front of the room, learned to help myself by reading lips and faces.

Suddenly I was going from crying myself to sleep, thinking I was some kind of freak who didn't have enough brains to compete with someone and suddenly found myself alive. But something else happened. I refused to accept the deafness as an excuse. I was not going to be a freak and I was not going to be pitied or given excuses.

Once I made accommodations for myself, I hid the fact that I had a hearing loss, I went on to high school and college and eventually a job was mine in my chosen profession, one I think I excelled at.

But the deafness has turned into a positive, one that I am happy to have. I have a child with developmental disabilities, one who can't speak or carry on as an adult. My deafness has prepared me to accept this since I cannot change it, yet change what could be a sad life for her by changing what I can. Besides, when I didn't like the sermons on Sunday, I really loved the on/off switch with the hearing aids!

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