Deaf children upbringing and education

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I guess this won't stir much discussion here, but it's something that worries me and I since there's some people involved with education in some way here, I thought I'd ask.

Anyway the thing is, my parents and like half of my family are deaf, making it probable that my own children will be. The young years are critical in any child's upbringing, but much more so for a deaf child. There are some big choices to be made that may define their whole life.

The main problem these kids have , as I see it, is that, not hearing older people speak, they have no one to imitate and they acquire language slightly (if they are taught some kind of sign language) or even a lot later. Related problems are that they do not learn how to speak and have big problems learning later (most never do), and that sign language grammar is simpler (specially when compared to Spanish. I don't really know about English), making it harder for them to write correctly in their languages.

So, when you have one of these babies to take care of, you are confronted with questions, options: How will you teach them vocabulary, as soon and as fast as possible so that their learning disadvantadge is kept to a minimum? Do you concentrate on teaching them how to speak, so that it'll be easier for them to interact with the world? Or do you concentrate on teaching them proper grammar? Will you take them to a special school so that they'll be a happier child, because they will have to make less of an effort, even if they will learn (a lot?) less and it will limit their choices in life, or do you potentiate contact with hearing children, even take them to a regular school, making their childhood much harder, but opening up possibilities for their future?

Of course there's some middle ground options (not many though! it seems to be mostly black or white with this) and I have some theories of my own, but they would require further explanation of the problematics etc. and I mainly want to hear peoples opinions if anyone has any. Even if without any foundation or previous knowledge! I don't know, maybe some fresh take on this.

(It's a pity Zen isn't around anymore! I always wanted to send her a PM regarding this but never got around to it... I was too shy)

(Also... This is slightly GET A BLOG!ish, ain't it? I may...)
Aw. I'm sorry you were shy. I think it's awesome when people ask questions like these, instead of simply going with whatever a medical doctor recommends.

I would consider learning ASL as soon as possible. Even if your kids aren't deaf (and you're right, hereditary deafness means that is a good possibility), their kids might be, and the best thing you can do is be a language model for them right off the bat. If there's deafness in the family you may as well raise them bilingually even if they are hearing.

If they're deaf, well, you absolutely want to start out signing to them. This way they are able to acquire language naturally the same way that hearing babies do. Studies show that deaf babies in ASL households acquire language milestones at the same time and in the same way as hearing babies in spoken-language households.

So the first thing is to raise them learning a language naturally. It might even be English depending on their level of hearing loss, but ASL is fine too. Either one develops the brain normally. This is what seems like an obvious step but is the one missing from most deaf children's lives, and is what causes so many problems later on.

After that, there are really a lot of different options. You will probably want to consult audiologists and speech therapists about how best to start teaching a deaf child English (including speech therapy, hearing aids, speechreading, etc.), but if you are raising them with ASL, it is vitally important to find specialists who do not reject signing. Many of them do. If you connect with your local deaf community (and especially if you have a deaf child!), you can probably find people who will work with your signing child.

I believe in giving a deaf child every opportunity to learn every way he or she can. At some point the kid might say "screw speech therapy, I'm just going to sign" or "screw signing, I want a cochlear implant," but the important thing is that they are able to make a choice based on having all the options.

Definitely reach out to the deaf community in your area, and consider ASL classes, or there are some very good programs like Signing Naturally where you can study at home. (In-person is best for a three-dimensional language, however.) You could of course wait until you have a child, but that's usually not the best time to be trying to learn a language. ;)

That's my initial advice, and please do PM me if you ever have any questions since I'm not guaranteed to remember to check this thread. (A little birdie was nice enough to alert me to it.)

EDIT: Okay, I forgot where Tegid lives, so this advice is pretty U.S.-centric and sorry about that. Obviously it would be LSE not ASL and my points about the resources may not apply. But the basic premise is still the same about the child acquiring a language naturally first, which would probably be sign.
Wow, that was fast!! Thanks a lot to both of you! :)

Luckily I already know some of these things, but you've given me some food of thought! Some of them may need to be adapted (since I'm Spanish), but you've told me some very interesting things that I'd never even considered. I'll sure write some time to ask more questions and opinions.

Thanks again! :)
Save some dough for gattaca babies when the time comes... and remember to give them 6 fingers so they can play the piano better.

I know nothing on the subject, so i'll just have to wish you good luck man.
Well, that is certainly an idea I hadn't considered! They will also have green eyes fuck yeah!

Thanks for the good wishes :)
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