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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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The Cry of the Gull
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“Then we went to Trousseau Hospital with your father. During the examination, they made you listen to sounds so loud they practically pierced my eardrums. But you were totally unresponsive to them. You were sitting on my lap and that’s when I realized it was true. I asked the specialist three questions.

‘Will she talk?’

‘Yes but it’ll take a long time.’

‘What should we do?’

‘Have her fitted with a hearing aid and get her into speech therapy as soon as possible. Avoid sign language at all costs.’

‘Is there any way I could meet some deaf adults?’

‘That wouldn’t be a good idea. They belong to a generation that didn’t have early training. You’d be disappointed and discouraged.’

“Your father was completely overcome. I cried. Where had this ‘curse’ come from? Was it genetic? Had it been caused by an illness during pregnancy? I felt guilty and so did your father. We tried, to no avail, to find out who might have been deaf on one side of the family or the other.”

I can understand the shock my parents suffered from all that. Parents always assign guilt. They’re always looking for the guilty party. But blaming one parent or the other for a child’s deafness is horrible for the child. It shouldn’t happen. They still don’t know why I’m deaf and never will and it’s probably better that way.

My mother says she didn’t know what to do with me. She would look at me but couldn’t come up with any activities to create a bond between us. Sometimes she couldn’t even bring herself to play with me. She stopped talking to me. What was going through her head was, “I can’t even tell her I love her any more because she can’t hear.”

She was in a state of shock, stunned. She couldn’t think rationally.

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