Saturday, October 27, 2007
The Deaf Community at Walmart
I know there is a reasonably well sized Deaf Community in the area I live. I haven't had much contact with them except for at Walmart. When Noah was little and had hearing aids people who were Deaf would regularly stop us in Walmart and fuss over Noah. They loved to sign at him. It was like the world was a better place because there was another deaf baby in it. They would ask me all about him (in ASL) and I would attempt to haltingly reply (ok, mostly fingerspelling, but we were able to communicate a bit). It always made me feel really good. It was ok that Noah was deaf. There are other people who are deaf that like Noah just the way he is. Yesterday I was at Walmart shopping with Noah and two women in the checkout line next to us were signing. Noah was quite interested in watching them - he loves to sign! I really think he would be quite fluent if it weren't for his vision problems and his language deficient mother. He's no longer the cute baby with the hearing aids, though, he's a toddler with a CI. All was good at first. They smiled and waved at Noah and he smiled right back and signed "bed" at them (it was naptime). But then he turned his head and they saw it - Noah has a cochlear implant. Suddenly the signing got really fast and the facial expressions got angry. The one woman pointed at Noah and signed cochlear implant and then a lot of stuff that was too quick for me to catch (assuming I knew the words anyway, which is unlikely). She texted someone on her phone and then a man came over and she signed CI again and pointed at Noah and he signed a bunch of stuff really fast. These people went from smiling and waving at my adorable little boy to angrily turning their backs whenever he would look at them. He's two, people! He doesn't understand that his mother made a controversial choice so that he could listen and speak. He doesn't know why you suddenly don't want to be friendly anymore. And you know what? You don't know that he couldn't sign a single word until he was able to speak with the CI. You don't know that he works really hard to learn ASL but that speech comes to him easily. I made the right decision, and I stand by it. I would be happy to explain my reasons if someone would ask me. Shunning a toddler is juvenile and cruel. If that's what the deaf community wants to teach my son I hope he stays far away from it. Where are all the kind deaf people? Maybe I should shop at Target instead.