Tuesday, November 2, 2010


One of my biggest frustrations when doing my research on ALL THINGS DEAF was the vast amount of myths I encountered. If the people and groups giving me information would have just limited themselves to telling me what they did well and why, it would have been fine. But they could not seem to stop themselves from also telling me what "the other side" did poorly. And therein lay the foundation of MYTHS. I have to tell you, those spouting the words "AG BAD" really irritated me. They didn't help their cause at all. Badmouthing differing options cast them in a very poor light. Those who tried to use the 4TH GRADE READING LEVEL to try and promote their agenda got me angry as well. I encountered those who told me that kids with CIs could not take baths because they would have WIRES STICKING OUT OF THEIR HEADS. I was also told that my child would never learn language unless (take your pick) WE LEFT OUT SIGN LANGUAGE AND WENT WITH AVT/WE WENT STRICTLY ASL WITH NO ORAL LANGUAGE.

Give me a break.

The myth I dislike the most is the one where people told me that we should wait to have our daughter implanted because she should have a say in it. We just needed to wait until she got older so she could decide for herself. Any parents who buy into this myth are deluding themselves. The younger the child is at the time of the implant, the easier it is for that child to learn to process the signals into meaningful sound. The older they are, the harder it is. If the parents wait until the child is old enough to decide, chances are good that the child will not be able to make very good progress turning those signals into meaningful sound. The simple act of waiting itself makes the decision. Whether they want to or not, the parent does decide. The only exception is if the child's hearing loss is not profound, and they have good use of hearing aids. In that case, they are not even eligible for implants so the point is moot.

I have encountered myths both from the ASL Deaf Community, and the oral deaf. All these myths produce is anger and disappointment in the families who are new to these issues, trying to raise their baby in this new-to-them world of hearing loss. They lose trust in the people giving them the information, and they are very likely to reject those they find they cannot trust. And that is probably the saddest outcome of all.

What myths did you encounter?


Miss Kat's Parents said...

The myth that Deaf kids who will become oral just "pick it up". Like there is no therapy or immersion needed. You have to provide constant ASL for them to learn it properly, but spoken language, they'll get it from the TV and 20 minutes a week of pull out therapy, That will be plenty of exposure to ensure fluency.....

Li-Li's Mom said...

So many, and as you've described, from both sides. A few examples of some of the more wacky myths I heard when researching whether or not to implant the wee one with a CI:
- she would have a permanent, open hole in her head that I'd need to keep water out of (and many similar to this, no sports, no showers, no swimming, etc.)
- learning ASL would take up her apparently limited language learning ability, learning ASL would cause her not to want to speak
- she would be in constant danger, susceptible to those frequent EMP attacks we experience (you know, from nuclear weapons, etc.)
- deaf teachers, aides, peers will remove her processor and convince her that it's bad thing
- she would feel like an outsider with [whichever group]

Scary thing is, I still see these myths spouted by people who should know better. In a way, though, it's almost a good thing: you see someone warning you that a child with a CI can't play sports, or that ASL will suck all the language-learning ability out of a child and you immediately know their bias.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Mythical world of Deaf.... Where myths are everywhere. even from hearing people who never met a deaf person before. YES, even from YOU, my friend.

Anonymous said...

A lot of Deaf people asked me about the CI when they saw my son wearing it. They'd ask "Could he swim?", "Is it working?", "Can he play sports?", "Does he have a hole (or a big bump) on his head?", "Is he hard of hearing?", "Can he ride on an airplane?", etc. So many questions and it sort of drove me crazy sometimes but I was always glad to answer them trying to show that the CI is almost like a hearing aid except for surgery. At least they showed interest in learning about the CI and I wanted to share the positive benefits of the CI with them. I used to be ignorant about CI and heard bad stories and myths about CI. I even thought they looked so weird on those people's heads. No offense! I think that we should have educational workshops about CIs for the Deaf community to end the ignorance!

K.L. said...

2nd Anon, I agree totally. I have never had a problem with people who have questions or who want to dialog with me. I do get irritated with people who spout misinformation as if they have actually done research. If you ask if she can take a bath, that is fine. If you tell me she can't because she will have a hole in her head, when obviously she doesn't, grrr.

Anonymous said...

I happened to find some links today on ASL and cochlear implants. You may have seen them. They are not captioned, so you'll need to understand ASL, but they seem in line with your values.

Anonymous said...

This on is specific to myths around cochlear implants.

Cloggy said...

Here are some collections of nonsense....