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American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf Adolescents: Inner Lives and Lifeworld Development

Martha A. Sheridan

Chapter Eleven
How They Have Grown!

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
                                                                                                          óGalileo Galilei

In this book, Angie, Alex, Danny, Joe, Lisa, Mary, and Pat have shared many aspects of their lifeworlds with us. Their individual chapters brought each of their unique adolescent experiences and diverse existences to light. To reiterate a message of Inner Lives of Deaf Children, no two deaf people are alike. The population of deaf and hard of hearing people is diverse. In fact, we can see from the stories, backgrounds, and experiences of the informants in this study that the collection of individual characteristics each possesses contributes to their narratives and the distinct interpretations of their experiences in various situations in life.

We have seen the joys and triumphs, the trials and tribulations, and the strengths and limitations of each of the adolescent participants in this study. Yet, while this is a diverse group of participants, they share many similarities. These similarities are presented in this chapter as the common themes that emerged from this research. The themes that emerged from the participantsí interviews in phase I of this study were presented in Inner Lives of Deaf Children (2001). These childhood themes will be briefly revisited here, and comparisons will be made to their adolescent perspectives.[1]

In approaching my analysis of these phase II adolescent interviews, I wanted to be careful not to automatically assign my interpretations of the participantsí data into the categories emerging from the phase I study (i.e., Images: attachment and domesticated others, alienation and disparate others, infinity, covert and overt identity, images of communication; and Pathways). Using computer software designed for the analysis of qualitative research, I carefully examined and reexamined the data and found that the themes emerging in the adolescent study were unavoidably falling into the same categories identified in the phase I study. This meant that as a group, the adolescents continued to present and emphasize images of their lifeworlds, themselves, and others related to attachment (attachment and domesticated others, alienation and disparate others, infinity, overt and covert identity, images of communication, and pathways).

1. The reader is referred to Sheridan (2001), Inner Lives of Deaf Children, for an in-depth discussion of these childhood themes.
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