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Inner Lives and Lifeworld Development|
Martha A. Sheridan
Irene W. Leigh
In her earlier book, Inner Lives of Deaf Children, Martha Sheridan introduced us to Danny, Angie, Joe, Alex, Lisa, Mary, and Pat. Using her considerable professional skills to encourage them to communicate freely, Dr. Sheridan asked the children to tell us their own stories. As a result, we learned about their families, their challenges and joys, and their hopes and dreams for their future as “grown ups.” Dr. Sheridan gave us a careful analysis of these stories, pointing out the various ways that the children and their families confronted and negotiated issues of communication, relationships, and identity within and beyond the family and educational settings.
Inner Lives of Deaf Children was unique and ground-breaking in a number of ways. First, rigorous qualitative research methods were employed to condense and draw themes from the stories that the children told. Dr. Sheridan’s combination of scholarly rigor and human focus is rare in research in general and especially in research focused on deaf children. Second, the researcher grew up deaf herself. In conjunction with her professional training, this undoubtedly increased the depth of her communication with the children and enriched her understanding of the meanings, emotional and otherwise, that they expressed. The resulting descriptions revealed Dr. Sheridan’s unique ability to interpret the children’s stories in ways that demonstrated the fascinating and positive complexities of their lives.
Deaf Adolescents: Inner Lives and Lifeworld Development takes us all a step further. We are now privileged to visit these children again, although at this stage of their lives they might not appreciate being called “children.” They are adolescents now—teenagers. They have grown physically, mentally, and emotionally. They have accrued more experiences and have been through many changes at school, with peers, in their communities, and within their own families. Again, Dr. Sheridan allows them to tell us, in their own words, what all of these experiences have meant to them and how they have adjusted and accommodated to the challenges they face daily. Now, the future, adulthood, is becoming a reality, and the adolescents’ concerns, hopes, and plans are beginning to take shape as they continue to make their way through the complicated world of adolescence.