Deaf Children in China

by Alison Callaway

from Chapter Six: Letters to Zhou Hong

Press Note: Zhou Hong is the principal of a preschool for deaf children in China. His success in educating his deaf daughter has earned him considerable publicity, and consequently, hundreds of hearing parents of deaf children have written him letters soliciting his advice on how they should educate their own children. The author managed to gain access to these letters, and this chapter is a study of her findings.

Family Structure

Almost without exception, the 135 nuclear families represented followed the pattern of a married couple with only one child�the deaf child. The only parents who were not married were a father who referred to his "girlfriend" rather than his wife, but called his deaf son "their" child, and one mother who explained in her letter that she was a widow. In 3 of the 135 families the parents had a hearing child or children in addition to the deaf child. In one family, a boy who was deafened by ototoxic antibiotics had a hearing twin sister. In another family, living in the countryside, the father who wrote the letter explained he had two children: the younger one, a girl, was deaf. One family living in Inner Mongolia had four hearing girls and a deaf boy who was the youngest in the family.

Of the 132 families with only one child, only 4 mentioned the possibility of having a second child. This is probably because the letters were focused on obtaining help for the deaf child. In each case the parents wrote that they either did not want or were not able to have another child. In three instances, parents' rejection of the possibility is linked to their devotion to their deaf child:

We never intend to have a second child, or give up searching for a cure for him [the deaf child].

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