Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Deaf does not mean quiet.

Virginia is deaf.

I see her often. She is wife to our pastor to the deaf, who is deaf himself. She is a mother, and my friend. I meet with her on Tuesdays to pray and have coffee, our kids running around our feet.

Just the other day her little boy had a styrofoam cooler and he raised it over his head and let it drop.
Virginia saw it from the corner of her eye, and rushed over telling him "Shhhh! Don't do that! It's too loud."

It really didn't make any noise at all.

A misconception that I've run across while working with the deaf is that often people will assume they are quiet.

No, they are not. At least not initially.

When I worked with deaf children one of the first and ongoing things they learned was to self regulate their noise. They can't hear themselves yelling, or the consequence of slamming a book against their desks. Only that the hearing staff JUMPED when they did so. That's actually pretty amusing, really.

Some enjoyed making throat noises to themselves because the rythmetic vibrations felt comforting. So for hours they would happily play going "ung . . ung. . .ung . .ung". They get each other's attention by beating on a table or stomping on the ground (vibrations). And laughter, emotions like surprise, anger, sadness - just comes out at the hearts level.

In reality - the school for the deaf was a very noisy place. A sign we used looked like turning a key, but at the throat under the chin, and meant - "turn if off".

Virginia now giggles quietly, and is very careful not to be "loud", and she is careful with her children that they, too, aren't loud. I think she is more careful about that than I am! :-)
She blesses my heart, she does.


Rhonda said...

I know just what you mean! Marcos is as deaf as they come, but he quite expertly controls the volumn his speech. Its hard for me to grasp, but its true. Amazing, huh?


kellygirl said...

O loved the post Michelle. I love to see pic's of them and hear about them too...yes it is a true misconseption that deaf are quiet....not!