Thursday, December 21, 2006

Working as a Deaf Mentor

When people ask me, "What do you do," I usually reply that I work in early intervention. I work as a Deaf Mentor. The definition, from the Hearing and Vision Connections website is: Deaf Mentors are enrolled under Family Support, but are not credentialed. They are available to go into the home, ideally working in close coordination with a DT(Developmental Therapist)/Hearing provider, to share personal experiences, teach sign language or the family's chosen method of communication, and introduce information about having a hearing loss, the Deaf community and Deaf culture.

I have been doing this for three years, serving about 25 families from birth to age three. I am seeing a major trend: the majority of families with babies with profound hearing loss are choosing implants. In Chicago recently, a seven-month old baby received two cochlear implants . Some of the kids with implants take right off with listening and spoken language. For others, it's a slower process and the results are not as immediate. For some families, the implant does not work for their child.

I really do enjoy working with the variety of families on a weekly or monthly basis but I'm sometimes the resource of last resort. Sometimes I will receive referrals to families when the children are almost three. Some of the families are quite a distance from my home, so I'm often on the road for long periods of time. I'm self-employed, which means that I handle my own billing and take a tax write off on the number of miles I commute.

The most rewarding aspect of the job is seeing the communication and language development that happens with each child and family. I love it when a mom or dad tells me, "My child said/signed 'I love you!'"


Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

That’s wonderful!

I am always amazed at people like you who have very excellent interpersonal skills in working with families. I know I would fail miserably in the area of interpersonal skills.

I am also thankful for people like you who can provide valuable information including but not limited to signed communication to families in non-hostile environment. So, thank you!

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

groovyoldlady said...

I am encouraged by your blog, but discouraged too. My grandson is almost two and his mom refuses to acknowledge that he has a hearing problem. Our relationship is tenuous and I have no power (at this point) to intervene, nor does my son (they're currently separated, with a protection order in place).

I want so badly to whisk him away to a doctor for evaluation!

Oh well, he is in God's hands and God can make a way where there is no way. I just hope it's sooner than later!

Anonymous said...

God bless you... your ability to help deaf babies is wonderful but I hope you dont do CI on everyone .. are you? I, myself dont like CI because I've seen kids growing up with CI and when they go off to college and they dont wear them. I asked them why .. kids said due to parents sake.. god forbit... is it worth to have CI when they were baby? I dont mind if they are older and disire CI for themselve but not by parents?
Are you still encoourage them to learn to sign ASL too?

Advocate NJ

moxie_mocha said...

Hello... I was a Deaf Mentor while I was in grad school. I enjoyed working with families, but sometimes I felt like I was being used. I'm not sure if that is the correct word.

For example, one family stopped requesting for my services, because the child just got an implant, and they wanted to do AV method. Then they asked me to return the child was so sick and was not responding to the AV method. When he got better, I was dropped. It was aggravating. Another family that I was with for about nine months all of the sudden decided to get an implant. So my services were not needed. Other families were great, but because of these two families, I could no longer go through that turmoil.

I appreciate all you do for these families. It's hard work.

lisamae73737 said...

Hello! I stumbled upon your blog while doing research for a novel I am writing. I love your style and your willingness to share your world with others. I am not deaf, but I was born with hearing loss in both ears. It is not nerve damage so it shouldn't get worse, although I am not gauranteed anything. I have the best of both worlds, in that when I don't want to hear noise when I sleep, I just sleep on my left side because my right ear is the worst. Several days ago story idea came to me and I have been thrust into a whole new world. I am facinated by my character, and though I haven't written a whole lot yet, I am interested to gain insight from someone who can teach me to be as true to my character and her needs as I can possibly be. I would very much like to know if you are interested in helping me gain more insight into the world of the deaf? You can find out more about me: and you can email me: I will be happy to share a chapter with you. I do hope you are having a beautiful holiday season! Happy Holidays!

Lisa Mae