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American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf Education in America: Voices of Children from Inclusion Settings

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General Feelings About School

Loneliness and Isolation

What is it like to be a deaf student in a hearing school? What does it feel like?

Zack
   It was only so-so . . . I didnít really like it. I remember being embarrassed and a little frightened in the hearing school.

Kyle
   I didnít really like the hearing school because I couldnít communicate with the hearing kids. Iíd try to talk with them
   sometimes, but mostly I was just shy. I felt lower then them, so I usually didnít even try.

Kaitlyn
   Iím just friends with the deaf kids. Well, Iím not the only deaf kid in the school, so Iím not so lonely as those who canít
   talk. Learn to speak. If you can talk, it is much better.

Tyler
   I feel OK and comfortable about going to a hearing school.

Leslie
   Sometimes I feel lonely, like if people talk a million miles an hour. I just sit there and listen to them. I just like to listen a
   lot.
      But, I think it is fun going to school now. I have a lot of friends, and I just feel normal. It is just that when I was little I
   didnít really have many friends and I really didnít want to go to school. Just being myself helped, I guess.

Jasmine
   I know it was a good school for the hearing kids, but it is hard for deaf people to understand and learn there. I feel left
   out because Iím deaf . . . whereís my culture? Iím closed in, contained, but not in my own culture. I never experienced
   [socializing] at the hearing school. Thatís why I never learned.
      If you donít have anyone to talk with at school and you come home and you donít have anyone to talk to at home,
   then you can get real lonely and just give up. Youíll feel like youíre not learning anything.

Julie
   I think itís the environment. Itís just a cold, less-friendly environment. The school seems cold, not too friendly. I look
   forward to getting home.
      Sometimes, Iím lonely. Iím on my own, the only deaf kid in the school so I have to live with that. Iím lonely when I
   feel I am struggling in school. When I feel all alone, then I lose my motivationóit just kind of bottoms out.

Ashley
   When I was younger, I felt I could join and interact with any group, but as I got older, I felt more distance, more
   isolation from hearing kids. At the time, it didnít really bother me; I got used to it as it happened. I really thought it was
   just the environment I was in, that it really wasnít anything important.

Sam
   I like going to a hearing school. I feel I have gotten a good education there. And Iíve learned how to live in the hearing
   culture. But I want to learn more about the deaf culture.

When deaf students were asked about school, they exclusively answered from a social perspective, rather than from an academic perspective. Interestingly, this differed from the adult participants, who answered almost exclusively from an academic perspective.

When reflecting on their feelings about school, the speaking deaf students tended to respond somewhat positively. However, the comments from the signing deaf students revealed deeper negative feelings. The younger signing students gave short, but insightful answers that told of their misery in school. Zack and Kyle both seemed to feel that the communication barrier was so intense that they could not glean any enjoyment in being there. Julie also revealed very negative feelings toward school. She linked these negative feelings to a cold school climate. Looking beyond individuals, Julie saw the problem as a school-wide problem, a general lack of friendliness.


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