"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Children of Deaf Adults (CODA) and School

*CODA: Child of Deaf Adult

Once again, a new school year begins. This is a good time for teachers and educators to be reminded that though some children exhibit social behaviours and habits that may appear to be a social or learning disability to be careful before jumping to inaccurate judgements and conclusions.  In our case, Bear, being a CODA was raised to communicate up close and personal, and loudly as my hearing deteriorated with each passing year.

We once had a parent/teacher conference in which our son's teacher asked the school's counselor for children with disabilities and learning disorders to join us. Here were the main issues the teacher brought to our attention.

1." He's so LOUD."

2. "He gets into people's personal space."

After the teacher explained what was going on with Bear, Fabulous Husband looked at me, then looked at the teacher and said, "My wife is deaf."

That moment, the teacher and counselor became aware of how a child's adaptation to a deaf parent's communication needs can easily be misconstrued as something else.

Yes, he is loud. I have inadvertently taught him to be loud over the course of his life. Even before I found out my hearing loss had reached the degree of "deaf" I had been telling him to speak up. Every day. All day.

Though he learned Sign Language as a baby, when Fabulous Husband came along, who is hearing,
Bear signed less and talked more.

I have a vision impairment, as well. Nystagmus makes lip reading more difficult for me if someone is not right in front of me. Nystagmus is when the eyes quickly move back and forth, like a tic or muscle spasm. I'm not sure if it is a muscle or neurological disorder. I only know that it interferes with reading lips. As a result, I have taught Bear that it's appropriate to get right in front of me so I can "see" what he is saying. Hence, he has been trained it is ok to get into the personal space of others, face to face, up close and personal.

I have a sneaky suspicion I may unconsciously do these very things myself. So, if we happen to meet in the future, and I seem to be closing in on your personal space, it is because I can't hear you and I want to "see" what you have to say. There's nothing weird about that.

Some deaf people don't hear themselves, depending on the degree of deafness. People may think they have a speech impediment, an accent, or have been "tipping the bottle" and their words are slurred. That is not the case. Think about it. If you had never heard people talking, you either would not speak at all, or you would not know what sounds are coming out of your mouth. It is by speech therapy and training that many of us can even accomplish to speak as well as we do. Speaking s not something all Deaf can do even if they did have the training and help available.

As I have become deaf through the passing years, my own voice often gets louder to compensate. I often have to tell people I have no volume control and I may need a little help. Sometimes, I sense my voice has taken on a monotone quality. Sometimes, it just doesn't feel "right" and in that case, I appreciate when someone lets me know I'm getting a little loud because that helps me learn to be conscious of how I form my words and to put effort into my speech.

Sometimes, a child may exhibit traits that can be misinterpreted as having special needs or a medical problem when in fact, it may be the result of environmental issues. Just because something may not seem "normal" to you, does not mean anything is "wrong".  It may be perfectly normal for that child's family. In which case, it may just be a matter of teaching there are other socially appropriate ways of behaving.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What is Reiki?

We are born to instinctively heal ourselves. What is the first thing we do when we get hurt? We place our hand on the injury.  People with headaches often reach up and place a hand on their head. A person with a backache reaches their hands around to their back. When a child falls and skins their knee, they cup their hand over their knee.

We instinctively use energy to aid in our own healing. We also reach out with our hands to those hurting to ease and comfort their distress.

When you join the flames of two candles together, the flame becomes one, burning brighter and higher. When you hold hands with someone, the coldest hand becomes warm from the energy emitted from the warmer hand. A dead car battery charges from the energy of another car when linked with battery cables.

Higher energy lends itself to helping lower energy rise.

Our bodies are energy. Everything around us is energy. We draw energy in order to live by what we eat, what we drink and what we breathe. Energy creates energy. Medical science can now measure how energy lends itself to the healing arts.

Throughout most religions and philosophies, the same themes are shared.  Peace and happiness are good for us. These emotions are measured at higher frequencies than sadness and despair. The higher the vibration, the healthier we are.

When we share Reiki, we raise our vibration. Raising our vibration aids in releasing stress and tension. Releasing stress and tension empowers healing and restoration to take place.

Dr. Oz promotes the practice of Reiki as healing energy:

As the session began, Oz asked Pamela to explain a little about Reiki.

"Reiki is a balancing practice," she said. "And so rather than addressing the headache or whatever else is the problem, what it does is it influences the person's overall system toward balance, and then as her system becomes more balanced, symptoms tend to fall away. Then over time, for example, if you get headaches, you may find that you get them less frequently."

"Do you feel anything?" Oz asked the Reiki recipient.

"Yes, my headache's going away," she said.

"Let me show you why I think energy has been overlooked," Oz continued, turning to reveal a large microscopic image. "This is an image of a cell. And it's beautiful, isn't it? You see that cell there, and it looks colorful, and look at the blue pattern on the outside. That's the membrane of the cell. That blue area on the outside differentiates life. Because it separates no energy on the outside from energy that's present on the inside. So if you think about it in that way, if the membrane of a cell keeps an energy balance between inside and outside, which is what defines life, if we put those cells together, into an organ, shouldn't the organ have energy? And if you put those organs into a body, shouldn't our bodies have energy? And so many of the ailments that we suffer from can be treated through energy therapies, which will become become much more prevalent over the next few years."  http://reikidigest.blogspot.com/2010/01/try-reiki-dr-oz-tells-millions-on-tv.html

Lisa Oz (Dr. Oz's wife) is a Reiki Master. She's been quoted as saying: "The next wave of medical advances will be when we come to recognize the body as an energetic system." http://www.askives.com/lisa-oz-reiki.html

Here are seven benefits of Reiki by Susan Noss MS, RD

1:  Stress reduction and relaxation

2:  Helps bring about inner peace and harmony

3:  Balances the mind and emotions

4:  Relief during emotional distress and sorrow

5:  Can help relieve pain from migraine, arthritis, sciatica, just to name a few

6:  Can help speed up the recovery from surgery or long term illness

7:  An effective way to treat immediate physical or mental illness

“Reiki is for everyone: it heals adults, babies, toddlers, children, elderly and pets.” Susan Noss, MS, RD

Visit Reiki by Rickie: http://www.reikibyrickie.com/ to learn more.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Releasing Worry

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?”   Matthew 6:25

 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”   Matthew 6:27

These questions were asked by Jesus over 2 millennia ago.

I’ve struggled with worry most of my life. As a child of a man who was not only an alcoholic, but a narcissist, I worried about every word I said. I was often in trouble for having a different opinion or perspective. There was no pleasing him, and I was always in trouble. What was worse, he always took it out on my mom. Life was better for my mom if I did not speak my truth, my thoughts or my ideas. It was better not to say much of anything around my dad while I was growing up, and I worried about every word I spoke and what was going to happen when I did. He had a way of taking things I said, and transposing them into things he thought I was “really” saying from his perspective. To correct him was to invite wrath. To keep peace for my mom and for me, it was better to let him think what he wanted, and let him believe he was right, because that was more important to him. As long as he was right, we lived in peace. While my mother and I constantly worried, we found life to be better if we acquiesced and agreed he was always right about us, and kept ourselves quiet and out of arguments.

Worry led to negativity and overly critical thinking that only heaped more piles of stress onto me. Over time, I was plagued by many ailments, asthma, sensitivities to all kinds of environmental triggers, thyroid disease and an ability to catch every virus that going around along with delayed recovery rates from each one.

Because so much of my life was spent with others closest to me telling me to “Shut up” and “You don’t know what you’re talking about”, I eventually “lost my voice” so to speak. I wasn’t heard. I was oppressed by what I allowed others to transpose onto me. When I did speak the truth plainly, what I often said fell onto deaf ears, which is strangely odd, because I’m the one who is actually deaf.

I love how God gently brought me to a place of healing. He knew I could not be healed living where I was when I began this journey toward better health.

 “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge was the beginning of this journey to healing. It was the most spiritual and loving gift any man had ever given me. The first time I met Fabulous Husband face to face, he placed this book into my hands. That day, I not only began to heal, but to live and to love and to trust. I had no idea the depth of spiritual healing I needed. This one book reached into my heart and began to salve decades of wounds that had gone unchecked and unattended. It forced me to revisit many hurtful events and words, to acknowledge them, and to realize God doesn’t hurt people – hurting people hurt people. I could start letting those things go and look past them to a God who created me with a beautiful soul that was meant for love, to love, to be loved… and that I am loved.

Through all this, I learned a major truth.

The opposite of worry is trust.

By releasing all worry, I am embracing trust. Trust that God not only cares about me, but provides for me. He provides things I don’t even realize I need or want. This is deeply profound.

By releasing worry, I am allowing God to take care of me as a loving, healthy Father takes care of his children. It took me a long time to understand this, because my own father was not a reflection of the kind of Father that God is.

God loves me and wants me, but often I had measured God by which I measured my earthly father. I had this backwards. My earthly father really should have followed the example God Himself had set. Unlike my earthly father, God wants the best for me, loves me unconditionally and showers me with gifts in spiritual and material realms - on earth as in heaven.

When I look at the attributes of Jesus, I see unconditional love, compassion, kindness, gentleness, wisdom, provision and healing. Jesus didn’t just preach. Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, and spent time with people of every walk of life. He brought peace to those who were seeking peace, rest to those who were weary and seeking rest. Even in the midst of the storms on the sea, he was peaceful and brought peace to his shipmates by causing the sea and the storm to calm.

If Jesus released all worry and exemplified peace and wished peace for us, shouldn’t I, too, embrace peace?

Jesus is also quoted as saying, “Peace be unto you” and “Fear not”.

Since I’ve started this healing journey and learned this truth about releasing worry, I’ve had fewer illnesses and asthma attacks. I was directed to an audiologist who was astute enough to realize that the symptoms I was having was not from my chronic ear disease, but something else, and she saved my life by sending me to a surgeon who performed a necessary surgery. (My thyroid had nodules, had grown into my neck and wrapped itself around my windpipe. It not only was slowly choking me to death, it was pressing against a nerve that was causing me to fall down all the time-since the surgery, I’ve not fallen down as before.)

I learned about Reiki during the month I was diagnosed and had my surgery. God provided me with the tools of using self Reiki to aid in my recovery, not just for the physical healing, but the emotional healing as well. Through classes provided by Reiki by Rickie, I relearned Biblical truths which brought exponential healing and health this past year. There are five Biblical truths that Dr. Usui calls the Five Principles of Reiki. They are:

Just for today, I release all anger.

Just for today, I release all worry.

I shall earn my living with integrity.

I shall honor every living thing.

I shall show gratitude for all my many blessings.

Worry has been the main issue I’ve had to deal with most in my life. Today, looking back, I can see how God strategically placed people into my life to bring me to this lesson, this truth.

Each moment I release a fear or worry is a moment I embrace trust, peace and healing. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

ATTN: Mechanicsburg, Harrisburg, PA areas: ASL Classes

Beginner 1
Students will learn sign vocabulary, practice signing with classmates, and discuss various deaf culture issues.  Students will be ready to converse with members of the signing community by the end of the Beginner 2.

Class time: Wednesdays, 6:30-8pm; Sept 11 – Nov 13
Instructor: Brenda Klinedinst 
Location: Room 108
Book required (used for Beginner 1 & 2): Signing Illustrated, by Mickey Flodin (ISBN: 9780399530418). This book should be purchased in advance of the first night of class.

Intermediate 1
Intermediate 1 is also designed for students with little or no knowledge of American Sign Language.  Students who do have some experience should find that this course complements that experience.  The class will be conducted with no voice, to allow for maximum learning of ASL both receptively and expressively. 
Intermediate 1 is suitable for those in the community taking ASL for recreation, for those serious about learning ASL, and for homeschoolers taking ASL for a humanities or foreign language credit.

Course Objectives:
Be able to introduce oneself, ask questions, make requests, and respond.
Be able to discuss simple conversational topics in past, present, and future.
Be able to conduct oneself appropriately culturally in a signing environment.
Develop an appreciation for Deaf culture.

Class time: Wednesdays, 7-8:30pm; Sept 11-Nov 13
Location: Room 235
Instructor: Jenice Wolgemuth, CI, CT, ASLTA:Qualified
Book:  A Basic Course in American Sign Language by Tom Humphries, Carol Padden, and Terrence J. O’Rourke; T.J. Publishers; any edition. This book should be purchased in advance of the first night of class.

Kid’s sign class
Kids, a sign class just for you!  This 6-week class is designed for you to learn lots of signs, including the alphabet and numbers, as well as conversational phrases. We’ll also sing and sign songs, sign Bible verses, play games, and watch a video (rated G).  Book is included.
This class is limited to 12 students.   We will also keep a waiting list for extra students who are interested.  If we have enough interest, we hope to offer a 15 week class for Spring 2014.  
Parents are encouraged to stay (free!).

Class time: Wednesday, 6-7pm Sept 18 – Oct 23
Location: Room 235
Instructor: Jenice Wolgemuth

We expect to be offering Beginner 2, Intermediate 2, and perhaps another kid’s class for Spring 2014.  We may also offer an Intermediate 3 class for Spring 2014 if there is enough interest. 

Please register by Sept 6, at deafkonnect@gmail.comor call 717-795-8170. 
A $10.00 offering is requested.
West Shore Evangelical Free Church
   1345 Williams Grove Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nominations for 2013 PA Deaf Community Leader

 This was forwarded to me by Eric Jeschke of the PA Telecommunications Relay Service Advisory Board. If you know someone you would like to nominate, send an email to Sudan Khan (email address is below). I nominated someone from our HLAA-PA organization. The nomination deadline has been EXTENDED TO AUGUST 28th,  so ignore the deadline date of 21st. Send in your nomination now.

July 30, 2013

Dear Pennsylvania Residents,

Hamilton Relay, the contracted service provider of Pennsylvania Captioned Telephone Relay Service, is seeking your assistance in identifying candidates for the Hamilton Relay 2013 Deaf Community Leader Award. We are looking for individuals who are deaf or deaf-blind and who have been a positive influence in Pennsylvania, demonstrating commitment to advocacy, leadership and enhancing the lives of those around them. The award will be presented during Deaf Awareness Week in September. 

Is there someone you wish to nominate? 

A questionnaire is attached to assist in providing information about your candidate, including a brief description about the individual and what this person has done that causes you to nominate him/her. Please send your nominations directly to me by August 21st via e-mail, fax or by mail.  My contact information is included under my signature below.

Celebrating community leaders during Deaf Awareness Week is something we look forward to each year. Thank you in advance for your participation in nominating deserving individuals from your community. We are eager to learn more about the community leaders in Pennsylvania.


Sudan N. Khan
Pennsylvania Captioned Telephone
Relay Service Outreach Coordinator
(610) 458-2373
(610) 458-2374
665 Stockton Drive
Suite 200E

Exton, PA 19341

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

These Rules Make Good Sense

If you're not familiar with Gael Hannon, I suggest you hop over to her page and check out what she has brewing every once in awhile. Gael shares a variety of stories about living with hearing loss. She recently published a post about the rules of the "hearing loss game", which actually is very sage advice for life in general.

Take a peek here: http://hearinghealthmatters.org/betterhearingconsumer/2013/the-rules-of-the-hard-of-hearing-game/

There is excellent advice in that post, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Side Effect of Hearing Loss and Deafness

"I don't know what I don't hear," I once said with a tone of frustration to Fabulous Husband. We had had our first major miss-communication a couple of years ago. I was sure I heard something else, and what is worse, he didn't know that. In the end, after we discussed the issue we figured out what had happened. He told me he said such and such, and I explained what I heard, and then we figured out what I didn't hear, which was a crucial point. All I had left to say is "I don't know what I don't hear", or another way to put it, "How can I know when and what I don't hear"? It's confusing, but really it does make sense if it's ever happened to you.

I'm just thankful it wasn't serious, because it well could have been. However, the reality is, no one is at fault when this happens, and I'm incredibly blessed and fortunate to have Fabulous Husband who is patient, and so wise and gentle and loving and incredibly understanding.

I actually had a similar situation years ago when I was living in Georgia with my friend, Katherine. Her husband and mine were very good friends, and it was they who were the peacemakers. I took something I thought Katherine said, and I accused her of lying. Fortunately, I only accused her of this to my husband and to her, however, it could have gotten ugly and I could have ruined the poor woman's reputation beyond repair, and unjustly had our husbands not put together what had actually happened.

I went personally to Katherine and asked point blank "Why did you lie?" and that was not the way to approach her, or anyone, really. I was young. I was very young, and I was about to learn a very good lesson in communication and caring about others.

As it turned out, no one was at fault. It was a simple communication problem, my failing hearing and poor lip reading skills being the real culprit. Once we figured out the problem, she was very forgiving of my lack of tact, however, the friendship was never quite the same. We were still friends and our husbands got along great, but there was now a strain that had not been there before.

Fortunately, I'm older now by several decades, and I've learned never to accuse anyone of anything blatantly, because many times, it comes down to a matter of perspectives. From my perspective, it may be one way, and from another person's perspective it may be vastly different because we have different information, or not enough information, or we heard something wrong or didn't hear a piece of information at all or we just have an entirely different view or interpretation. Too often, we presume, assume and arrive to incorrect conclusions. It is not our job to accuse one another, nor is it right. We should be slow to take offense, patient and give one another the benefit of the doubt and talk it out.

Which brings me back to Fabulous Husband. He has those wonderful virtues, patience, kindness, gentleness, slow to take offense and he's wise, loving and understanding. He has a beautiful spirit. I'm so grateful he stuck out the conversation with me and we figured out exactly where we got our wires crossed.

I mishear and misinterpret things everyday, all day long, and I'm thankful that it's not been over serious issues. I'm also thankful I'm learning the lesson of not allowing such things to create unnecessary drama in my life or the life of others. There will be many more conversations in the future where I'll be saying, "I don't know what I don't hear", but at least we know if something gets misconstrued, it's a side effect of being deaf and we are learning better how to handle it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Support Our Deafened Troops

Many of our troops return home with little or no help how to adjust to living a deafened life. Social situations are no longer enjoyable. Church services, movies, and other gatherings or events only add to the stress that's already been put upon them.

This is why captions, audio loops, aids and devices are important. Though aids and loops help, they are not perfect, they are just what they are - aids. Sensory loss can disabling and difficult to learn to adjust to and live with.

Let's support our troops by making social and organizational gatherings more accessible for those who have lost degrees of their hearing.

This is an interesting post regarding noise induced hearing loss written by Gerald R. Bearce, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel.

Let's support our troops by making social and organizational gatherings more accessible for those who have lost degrees of their hearin

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stunning Performance (Dance)

I saw this video posted on Facebook and I just had to share this stunning performance. I am awestruck. I didn't catch the names of the dancers, and because of the video format, I wasn't able to find a web address or anything else about it. Perhaps one of you could tell us more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fall 2013 Sign Language Classes

I am pleased to share this information with you. This is for residents in the Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas:

offered by
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Lancaster County
Beginner I American Sign Language 8 weeks—Cost: $100.00 + Text $20.14
Tuesday EVENINGS, 6:00—8:00 PM
STARTING DATE: September 10, 2013
LOCATION: TBA (near or in Lancaster) Text: Signing, How to Speak with Your Hands by
Elaine Costello Prerequisites: None
This is a beginner class in American Sign Language which will introduce the basics of communicating with the Deaf and information about Deaf culture. The class will cover the first half of the vocabulary in the required textbook.
Beginner II American Sign Language 8 weeks—Cost: $100.00 + Text $20.14
Wednesday EVENINGS, 6:00 PM—8:00 PM
STARTING DATE: September 11, 2013
LOCATION: St. Peters Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10 Delp Road
Text: Signing, How to Speak with Your Handsby Elaine Costello
Prerequisite: Completion of a previous formal class or other experience with ASL
This class is a continuation of American Sign Language utilizing the Elaine Costello dictionary text and other resources determined by the instructor.
Intermediate to Advanced Class
DHHS would like to offer an intermediate to advanced class if there is enough interest. Please call us and, if there are at least seven students interested, we will find a place to hold the class.
Call 717-397-4741 and leave a message or email kkostrub@dhslancaster.org.
Registration for Fall Sign Language Classes (DEADLINE September 3, 2013)
Beginner I Sign Class: Class $100, Text $20.14 􏰀 Tuesday PM
Beginner II Class: Class $100, Text $20.14 􏰀 Wednesday PM
Amt Paid:________________ Check :________________
Name:__________________________________________________________________________ Address:________________________________________________________________________ City:________________________________________ Zip:_______________________ Phone:_____________________________ Email: ___________________________
Complete form and return with check to: DHHS, 150 Farmington Lane, Lancaster PA 17601

Questions? Please call
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services,
717-397-4741, or email kkostrub@dhhslancaster.org 

Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Living Well With A Disability Conference & Expo

I received this notice from Karen Kain with the information regarding the upcoming  FREE Living Well With a Disability Conference and Expo coming to Lancaster, PA August 24th to the 25th. I got my tickets some time ago. Maybe we'll see you there!
My name is Karen Kain and I am a Parent of a Unique Child who will be working and attending the Living Well With A Disability 2013 Expo.  I wanted to let you know that there is a FREE event August 24 and 25, 2013 at the Lancaster Marriott and Lancaster County Convention Center. The hours are Sat. 11 am-5 pm & Sun. 11 am-4pm. You can find out more at http://www.LivingWellWithADisabilityExpo.org.
This is a FREE event and has every kind of support for families and individuals who are living with disabilities.  You will see wheelchair dancing, adaptive sports, face painting, adaptive vans, Autism awareness, the latest computer technologies and much, much more.  
   Meet & Greet with MANY celebrities and authors including: Tiphany Adams of Sundance Channel's "Push Girls", Christine Ha, winner of MasterChef 3rd Season, 4 Wheel City, Deborah Pierce, author of "The Accessible Home" and Barton and Megan Cutter, authors of "Ink in the Wheels, Stories to Make Love Roll" 

   Art Demonstration
   Adaptive Dancing both days!
   Try adaptive sports: Wheelchair Basketball, Sled Hockey and Adaptive Martial Arts
   Transform your face at the face painters
   Learn how to work with assistance dogs
   Break out your dancing wheels
   Adaptive Gardening demonstrations
   Accessible Travel Hour
   Find out what horses can do for people with disabilities
This is a must attend event for parents living with Unique Children.  I will be there all weekend.  Join us for a very fun weekend and get inspired.

I hope to see you there!
Karen Kain


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Are You A Deaf or ASL Fluent Reiki Master?

Today's post is a request from someone learning Reiki who wants to share Reiki with the Deaf and hard of hearing community. They eventually would teach Reiki so other Deaf and hard of hearing can become practitioners and teachers, too. If you are interested in helping, leave your name and email address in the comment space below. All comments are private and moderated. Your information will not be published.


I am looking for information from Master Level Reiki III who is either Deaf or fluent ASL. I have taken the Reiki Levels 1 and 2 classes, and I am preparing to take level 3 this year. I hope to be a Master Teacher next year.

I need to find a Deaf or ASL fluent Reiki Master to help mentor me with the phrases and signs regarding the Reiki vocabulary and teachings. Besides working with Deaf clients who will come to me for sessions, I also eventually want to come to that  place in Level 3 so I can teach Deaf students interested in becoming Reiki Masters. I feel my mission is to bring Reiki to my local community, so they may continue and carry the teachings to other Deaf.

If you are a Reiki Level 3 Reiki Master and fluent in ASL, please leave a comment below for Xpressive Handz. The information you leave will be moderated by her and kept private. I will contact you at the email address you provide with the phrase "Reiki ASL" in the subject line.

Much gratitude.

Monday, August 5, 2013

First Deaf Mayoral Candidate Begins to Campaign

Carol Hirsch has worked through many challenging situations. This would be a great attribute for a Mayor to have. I am hoping she has everything it takes to not only win, but help her community be successful and thrive. I'm excited she has thrown her hat into the ring. Read more at The Frederick News-Post

"The law requires all organizations or businesses — public or private — to provide everyone equal access to all programs, services and activities they offer, regardless of their disability."  Pattee Brown, co-founder of Frederick Gorilla. 

For deaf and hard of hearing, this means we need access via ASL interpreting, and/or captioning (CART services).

courtesy photo

Friday, August 2, 2013

"The Social Challenges of Hearing Loss" as seen in ALDA News

Many of you who are members of ALDA (Association of Late Deafened Adults) received the latest ALDA News, Summer, 2013 Volume 29, Issue 3 this week. The Editor, Nancy Kingsley contacted me and asked if I would be interested in submitting something for them along theme of social challenges regarding hearing loss. It was a privilege to be asked to submit an article, and a pleasant surprise to see my story on the front cover.

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment of miscommunication? I have, numerous times. Here is one of my more memorable moments...

The Social Challenges of Hearing Loss

By Joyce Edmiston

You might think that as a child with a hearing loss, I would have grown up being used to social situations where it is difficult to follow what is being said and what is going on. It wasn’t like that for me. In fact, in many ways, I was socially stunted because of my hearing loss.

Much of what goes on is accessed through the ears. Conversations are happening around us everywhere we go, and people learn about social graces by listening to the comments of others. (This is called incidental learning.) We learn how to use words to convey emotions, social norms, acceptable behavior, and small talk. On more than one occasion, people have mentioned that I don’t waste much time getting to the point, and as a result, I sometimes come across as rude. I’m not actually being rude—I just know that by the time I get to the end of small talk, I’ll be worn out from trying to follow the conversation and be so mentally exhausted that I’ll miss important parts.  I’m sure some of you reading this can relate. It’s so much easier just to get to the point, but that’s not the norm. People talk a lot without saying much before arriving at what they actually want to communicate. The small pleasantries of discussing the weather, asking how the family is, and even a simple “how are you” can turn into a huge discussion.

I’ve noticed through the years that as my hearing deteriorates further, it becomes easier for me to talk a lot about nothing just so I won't have to ask the other person time and again, “I’m sorry?” or “Could you repeat that, please?”  If I do most of the talking, there is less chance that I will answer inappropriately. That is my biggest fear when it comes to socializing, and I spent many years isolating myself because of it. I don’t know the scientific name for this phobia, if there is one. It was never a problem for me until I went to the dinner party that changed that. 

I was married to a military police officer in the early 1980s. This was before I got my first hearing aids. (It was actually this man who set me up with the audiologist that prescribed my first ones, courtesy of the U. S. Army, while we were stationed in Europe, but this happened after the story I’m about to tell you.)

That husband—I’ll call him  M.P. for military policeman—received orders to report to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. I was 22 at the time. We opted to live off base in a house near Kings Ferry and Ogeechee. The landlord lived on the other side of the watermelon patch behind the rental. He was very friendly, the epitome of Southern hospitality, and invited us to his home for dinner the next day with some of their friends. His wife, he said, made the best barbeque in these parts. Although I was nervous about meeting new people and making new friends, I knew it was important to accept the invitation.

M.P. went through processing the next day.  He had a bad reaction to the typhoid fever vaccination and was sent home early.  He began developing a fever and needed to get into bed. By now, it was late afternoon, and we were expected at Mr. and Mrs. Landlord’s house in just a couple of hours. While I was debating whether I should stay home and be a nurse, M.P. said to just go to the neighbor's for dinner. It wasn’t like I was driving across town—I would be right next door, and he wanted to be left alone and sleep.

I walked past the watermelon patch up to Mr. and Mrs. Landlord’s home. Mr. Landlord introduced to their adult son and their friends, a young couple. The gentleman was an officer from the base where  M.P. was just processed. I don’t remember much about his girlfriend other than she was lovely and so soft spoken that I didn’t hear her well. I let them carry the conversation and I didn’t say too much.

As the hostess prepared each plate, I began to lose my appetite. The meat was a gray stringy concoction with a watery gray sauce. Not wanting to be rude, I began to think about what I could say so she wouldn’t put as much on my plate as she was giving everyone else. When she looked my direction as she picked up a plate, I requested, “Not too much for me, if you don’t mind. My husband and I had a very late lunch today.”

While I was watching the hostess as she began putting a small portion on my plate, the officer sitting across from me asked, “Where is he at?”

 "He’s home in bed,” I replied.

Mrs. Landlord frowned and gave me an odd look. I glanced at her husband, who gave me a very stern look. Then I looked at the officer who had asked me the question. His face was red, and it looked as though he was trying to keep from laughing.

Warning bells went off in my head. Something just wasn’t right. I asked the officer, “You did ask me ‘Where’s he at?,’ didn’t you?”

Still red-faced, he slowly shook his head no. “I asked, ‘What did you have for lunch?’ ”

To say I was greatly embarrassed is an understatement. To this day I don’t remember what the food tasted like, what we talked about, or anything else other than how quickly I left for home with the excuse, “I need to go check on my husband.”

I can laugh about this today, because it really is funny. However, back when I was young, inexperienced, and awkward in social gatherings, this misunderstanding caused me to not go anywhere socially without M.P. I lost many wonderful opportunities by allowing that moment to define my social choices. I missed out on friendships, meeting fascinating new people, and traveling with other military wives when we were stationed in Europe. As a young woman, I didn’t know how to explain my hearing loss or advocate for myself.

This is why I believe it’s so important to have support groups such as ALDA and HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) and why I love reading stories about other deafened, hard of hearing, and Deaf people. I also think it’s why blogging is on the rise among us. If you haven’t checked out some of these blogs, I encourage you to do so. You’ll learn, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll understand, and you’ll relate. Here are a few blogs I like to visit:

Amy Sargent aka Deaf Girl Amy is a wonderful writer, advocate, and blogger at http://deafgirlamy.com/thriving-deafie-spotlight.html

Be sure to check the trailer for Amy’s book, A Survival Guide for New Deafies, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qfk0pnt9fDQ

Author Shanna Bartlett Groves, aka Lipreading Mom, blogs at http://lipreadingmom.com

Mike McConnell has been blogging about deaf and hard of hearing issues the longest: http://kokonutpundits.blogspot.com/?m=1

Charlie Swinbourne, a TV screen writer in the UK, publishes an international e-daily, “The Limping Chicken,” at http://limpingchicken.com

If you’re looking for a place that covers a wide variety of issues regarding deafness from bloggers around the world, check out http://www.deafread.com

For the top blogs that cover deafness, go to http://deaf.alltop.com

While you’re at it, stop by my blog at http://xpressivehandz.blogspot.com , where there is something new each week. I also encourage others to guest post. Do you have something on your mind you would like to share? Email me at xpressivehandz@hotmail.com and put “Blog Post” in the subject line.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Strictly Visual, Hysterically Enjoyable "Shawn the Sheep"

 While I can't follow most of the programs our 9 year old watches on NetFlix (we still can't get captions streamed over our Blue-Ray), there is one show that I can follow quite well. My son laughs himself silly with "Shawn the Sheep", and I can laugh along with him. There are no words, it is strictly visual.

Here's a clip of the theme song:

Watch instantly on Netflix: http://dvd.netflix.com/Search?v1=shawn+the+sheep&fcld=true&ac_category_type=none&ac_rel_posn=-1&raw_query=shawn+the+sheep&search_submit=&ac_abs_posn=-1

Their FaceBook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/shaunthesheep

The official website is here: http://www.shaunthesheep.com/