Children of a Lesser God, Children of a Different Choice

“Do you think that we could find a place that we can meet, not in silence and not in sound?”

James Leeds (William Hurt), a speech teacher, presents this question to Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin), a deaf custodian, as they try to reconcile the differences between their worlds. While James demands Sarah to speak in the mainstream world, Sarah wants to represent herself with ASL– “her language”, as she says. After spending an entire relationship trying to force Sarah into English and “change [her] into a hearing person”, James finally accepts several important concepts.

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Silence Is Golden… Sometimes

The times I feel ‘least deaf’ are actually the times when I am most deaf. Allow me to explain…

When my partner’s at home, I tend to use my hearing aids all day so that I’m ready for any interaction. If he comes into a room to speak to me, I want to be able to know what he’s saying, so, wearing my aids at all times seems a reasonable course of action.

silence is golden sometimes

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How Hearing Loss Made Me into a Crazy Cat Lady

It started in 1993, several months after my first birthday, with one simple word. Both of my parents were surprised to hear me talk because struggles with ear infections delayed my speech. All it took for me to speak was the daily visit from the neighbors’ cat. Tigger was sitting outside the kitchen door, expecting to be let in for snuggles, cuddles, and food. I took one look at him and exclaimed “cat!” After my first word, however, nobody could have predicted the battle I would fight to maintain my hearing.

Ear problems considered typical for infants transformed into a chronic illness, which disintegrated my eardrums over the course of 10 years. Delays in speech became social delays caused by hearing loss, and frequent absences related to illness. There were plenty of things that upset me about ear infections; not having a lot of friends; ice-cold eardrops that gave me migraines; teachers who did not understand my health problems. Nothing upset me as much, however, as not being able to hear a cat purr. I knew it existed because it vibrated in my fingertips, giving me a “thank-you” massage for stroking the cat’s back.  No matter how close I put my ear though, I could never hear the cat’s wordless way of saying “thank you” and “I love you.”

By age 10, I worried that would never happen. Half of my left ear was eroded by ventilation tubes, and only one scrap of my right eardrum was left. I was told, if my health did not change, I would be stone deaf at sixteen. Would I lose my chance to hear the cat’s purr? Would I ever find a way to stop these infections?

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But You Look So Normal

It’s easy to pretend that I am just like everybody else until someone blurts out a subtle, but painful statement.

“But you look so normal!”

Christina Lisk

Those words were uttered to me in the library after another student lost her temper because I could not hear her whispers. My response to her irritation was to pull out my hearing aid, wave it in her face, and say, “I’m sorry, I’m hard of hearing. Could you repeat that?”

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