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American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf Daughter, Hearing Father

Richard Medugno

Chapter Two
“So How Are You Planning to Communicate with Your Little Girl?”

As one would expect, the first few months after Miranda’s diagnosis were eventful and difficult. I believe Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief are applicable to parents finding out they have a deaf (or disabled) child: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I certainly experienced each of these stages.

With the diagnosis, it was not the imminent death of our child, but the immediate death of the dreams we had for that child that we had to grieve. No question, we had our tough times, but I believe Brenda and I moved through the stages pretty darn quickly.

I’m not sure why, but perhaps, for myself, it was the fact that I had a mentally disabled brother. Another thing that helped me adjust quickly was hearing awful stories about parents who did not accept their child’s deafness. I didn’t want to ever be accused of handicapping my child with my own hang-up about acceptance.

Though we mourned the loss of our “hearing daughter" and the dreams of a blond pixie with big brown eyes who would play duets on the piano with her mom and sing silly songs with her dad, we could now take some positive action. New visions began to bloom in our heads and new feelings blossomed in our hearts for our Miranda.

Making Contact

The first conscious visual communication I had with Miranda happened within a few days of learning that she was deaf. In our kitchen, she stood up on a chair wearing only her diaper and plastic pants. With her curly blond hair, round face, and big brown eyes, all she needed was a pair of wings to become a cherub and take flight. I gestured for her to sit down and was quite surprised when she lowered herself. When she rose again, I motioned again for her to sit down. Again, she did. There was such satisfaction in this simple exchange.

In subsequent medical appointments, it was conveyed to us that with hearing aids and speech therapy, a deaf child could learn to speak and achieve a certain “normalcy.” Brenda and I started doing a lot of research. We read whatever we could get our hands on about raising a deaf child. I remember reading a case history about how a little girl with a similar diagnosis should be able to develop normal speech and language skills and attend regular school. Once hearing aids were put on, she would instantly begin to develop verbal language. In six weeks, she would say her first word: “Mama.”

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