Saturday, August 2, 2008

Deaf child + Hearing parents -- options?

So, having had to deal with the real possibility that our newborn son is deaf, all sorts of new questions have run through my head, and I don't have answers to all of them. Firstly, I think my wife and I are in a much better position to make an informed decision than most hearing parents of deaf children because I am already learning ASL and teaching my wife and daughter some as I go. That doesn't really help me understand how Deaf children are raised and educated, though.

Let's just assume we decide not to get CI for him. Obviously we would start teaching him ASL as early as possible, but since our primary communication in the house is spoken English, we would need help. He would not be able to "acquire" ASL like a Deaf-of-Deaf child would. Who would help us before school age? Are there programs dedicated to this? Obviously we would need help, too, or he would surpass our signing skills sooner than later.

Then what about school? Can a deaf child be properly educated bilingually in mainstream schools, or is it far better to look into Deaf schools? (we have a deaf school, but the commute would be 1 hour each way). Are all Deaf schools residential? How does that really impact a child's relationship with his parents being "sent away" to school at such a young age?

It is one thing to oppose CI in theory, but when faced with all the very real details/problems of raising a literate and educated deaf child I can see why hearing parents could be easily swayed into CI. Please help me understand more, or point me to informative internet sites on our choices and options here. Thanks in advance for any help!