Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Triplets Who Are Deaf Blind-- After the Show

"What do you do when this stretches out for the rest of your life?" commented Dr. Phil on his show today featuring the Hooker family with triplets who are deaf blind. The first half of the show gave viewers a peek into the daily life of caring for the three of them every day. Diapers, special pajamas that zip up in the back, head rocking, temper tantrums and drinks that end up on the floor. The daily struggle of trying to build up language while simply trying to survive through the day.

As I watched the show, I found myself thinking about the sheer amount of work it takes to try and communicate with three young ones using tactile sign. I noticed that one triplet had a cochlear implant, so I'm sure the family's life includes visits to the audiologist on a regular basis for mappings. One child who is deaf blind is a challenge; three requires some daily outside help to keep your own strength going. It's no wonder the family's mental resources were tested to the limit.

Dr. Phil brought on Jennifer Rothschild, author of Lessons I Learned in the Dark to inspire the family. Jennifer became blind a the age of fifteen. While her story was inspiring, I really felt that Dr. Phil could have made a greater impact by bringing on an adult who was deaf blind. Brian Hubbard, for example, is a psychotherapist who happens to be deaf blind and an inspirational speaker as well.

Perhaps as a result of this show, the Hooker family will be able to connect with other families raising children who are deaf blind and adults who are deaf blind.

For a summary of the show, go here: Triplets Who Are Deaf Blind.


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20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I watched the show, and frankly I was horrified. I saw no evidence at all of attempting to communicate with the girls -- just moving them from place to place. No effort on anyone's part to mold the kids' hands into signs for even the most basic things. The mom only knows what the kids DON'T want because they can't communicate anything?? Did anyone even mention sign language? I also kept thinking -- they're six years old and they're just getting evaluated now?? Where is their school district? Where do these people live that they are not getting a huge amount of support and instruction from educators? What was the deal about paying people $50,000 PER KID for an intervenor? And they had to go to CANADA to find someone?? They should be getting these services for FREE from their local school district. I also thought -- wow Phil, you just don't get it, by bringing on a woman who became blind at 15. A person who loses their vision or hearing at a later age is so different from someone who is born with a sensory loss. They couldn't find a deaf blind person? Or even a deaf person who signs? I just thought the program was so bad in so many ways... ugh.

Ayala said...

That is one of the saddest things I've ever read. Did they mention on the show if the children have brain damage? I can't imagine, 6 YEARS without being able to communicate at all. The mom was saying she just makes a bunch of food because they can't tell her what they want. Wow.

Did the mom talk about signing? Did they try it? Did it not work? I hate to think people are going to watch this and think, "Poor deaf-blind people. They can't communicate with anyone."

Celeste said...

I also felt that Phil dropped the ball on this one.

Karen said...

The mom said it was tough for her to have a conversation with all three because it required signing into their hands and she couldn't sign into three hands at once.

I am puzzled at why Dr. Phil brought in someone from Canada to help the family at a cost of $50,000-- why not tap into the Helen Keller Centers that we have in the U.S.?

Anonymous said...

My husband and I watched that program and was downhearted that none of these people ever talked about it or just put that issue aside and kept talking about blind...there are blind and deaf institutions in US such as Helen Keller Institution that would teach children how to communicate in sign languages that would benefit both parents and triples communication. That show makes deaf issue is not that important but focus on blind issue...I am thankful that I can see and able to survive without hearing a sound...

mishkazena said...

I missed the show, but did read the article. The first thought I had was where are the attempts to communicate with the triplets via sign language? It horrified me that in 2007, this mother seems unfamiliar with programs helping deaf-blind children. Obviously she hasn't done her research on the Internet :(

Karen said...

I think we do have to be careful not to conclude too much from this show. Not much was said about the cognitive abilities of the children which could be another factor.

dianrez said...

I wondered, too, about Dr. Phil using them as fodder for sympathy appeals. How much is he leaving out in emphasizing the tragedy and the deprivation and suffering of this family? Is the desperation of this family, the stress on their marriage being played up at the expense of the positive elements?

This is hitting me the wrong way. Other questions are appropriate: how much help are they getting from the real professionals in this area: people who are deaf-blind and those who are working with the deaf-blind? Is this nonexistent or edited out? Are the parents being wrongly advised? When the money starts rolling in, how will it be used? To support an entirely audio-oral or a tactile-sign approach? To pay for relief caretakers so that the other members of the family can have breaks? To pay for intervenors for each individual child?

Patty said...

I caught the show, and I was quite angry and bothered.

The whole show sparked of exploitation. That "inspirational" blind woman had no idea what she was talking about because her every other word sounded like she was hawking her new book. She has no idea how lucky she is: she's hearing. And, believe it or not, she's actually quite stunning-looking. Why in the world did Dr. Phil think she would make a nice guest for the mother??

The mother made me cry. Her eyes stayed glazed even after she was surprised with a 1-week trip to Hawaii. She does not want that trip...she wants and needs to be introduced to a support system full of parents of db children, not just educators trained to work with db children.

kkurt said...

After reading many your blogs, I am glad I am not the only one feeling this sense os fustration! Helen Keller center would be ideal to help (you'd think! & Dr. Phil mentioned Helen Keller being D/B). BUT isn't Dr. Phil show about marital/family issues? The D/B triplets issue is really NOT why he had them on the show, it was more focused on the couples marriage. But yet many people WILL be asking the other questions what the rest of the world wants to know - the triplets!! I think this show will get alot of attention ON them, not the couples. Let's see what happens - if there's a follow up.

Anonymous said...

The reason they had to go to Canada to get an intervenor is because in the United States they don't offer intervenor services paid for by a school board or the government. As well there is no where to get PROPER training to work with congenitally deafblind or Accquired deafblind persons, like there is in Canada, namely Toronto.

Sadly this is the fact, maybe this will bring light of a sorely needed area of assistance in the United States.

Anonymous said...

As the article and the Dr Phil show states, this is the world's first set of dead & blind triplets. First of all, since no one is walking in this family's shows, do not judge them. It can't be easy having 3 disabled children and an older abled bodied child to care for. People should be praising the parents for seeking out help, not degrading them. Since people left messages "on what the parents of the triplets should do", try a day or week in their life and household! Until then, do not judge them.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who are so critical of that mother, have you ever walked a day in her shoes? I have a set of 15 month old healthy ( thank God )triplets, and it is a lot of work every day. Some days, it is hard to find time to shower until they go to bed because of the continuous care they need. I can't imagine having to deal with deafness and blindness. Hopefully, she and the children will get the help they need. I know that there are some days that just getting through the day, doing just the basics, is difficult due to illness or teething. I can not imagine her world. Perhaps, and justifiably, she is overwhelmed with just getting the basics accomplished each day. Help, not criticism, is what this mother needs. After all, mothers the world over have felt overwhelmed with their children. Grant it, I only listened to the show, since I am busy, and listening to the tv is the only way I can do it. I didn't get to sit and watch it. Even with healthy triplets, people feel that it is their duty to walk up to me and make abusive or cruel comments, ask a ton of personal questions and act as if they are entitled to touch my children. What ever happened to decency and manners? Or in her case, helping thy neighbor? Let you without sin cast the first stone.

Anonymous said...

Wow, using the kids to make money?? I doubt that seriously, I can't even imagine how much their lives cost on a good day. I don't see how they could ever get ahead. Furthermore, people who show up to help may have good intentions but that doesn't mean that they really know how to really help. Lots of people want to help but its on their terms. If it was a bad time for the mom, why didn't they offer to come back at a better time? Shame on the people who are being so judgmental.

Anonymous said...

I could not stop watching the Dr. Phil Show today. This situation would be hard for two parents, but she raised the triplets by herself for the first few years of their life. WHen would she have time for anything else? I have to give her credit. She wants what is right for her children. I feel the mother has very good intentions for her daughters. She knows she needs some guidance. That is why I feel she turned to Dr. Phil. Raising "normal" children is a "normal" environment is a tough job. I give her a lot of credit for trying and not giving up.

twiggs_gal said...

I think most parents would be disgusted to know that they couldn't get help for their child in the Great USA. My cousin has a deaf-blind son with mild Cerebral Palsy and can't even get the Helen Keller School to help her son. Not only that but the school in Canada said they'd help if the family would move their and that the 7 year old son would have to denounce his citizenship to the USA. Teachers from Canada can come to my cousin and help for $7000 and a place to stay, plus be provided transportation. NOBODY IN GEORGIA WILL HELP!! There
are no grants, no trained teachers, no schools or anything for the Deaf-blind up until they are at least 11 years old. It is sad that other states and countries can give these services but just not in Georgia. At least Dr. Phil raised awareness of and for the Deaf- Blind.. If for no other reason, My cousin at least learned of the intervenors. Now she just needs help to get her son the care and education he needs and deserves.

If there was ever a fighting mother for a special needs child, my cousin is IT!!! she has done battle after battle with school boards from here, in our small town, to Atlanta and has her son on waiting lists for help and just cannot get any help. The organizations all are either not helping or too expensive!

SHe has had schools audited because they misused the funding that was supposed to be for special needs children and has had mumerous conversations with school officials.

Our state is really dropping the ball on education for deaf- blind children with other disabilities. AND NOBODY CARES!!!

Anonymous said...

I've watched this indian movie once called Black. A girl who was born the same way: Blind and Deaf. I don't know if it's possible but couldn't they teach them sign language by TOUCHING? For example, Holding their palm open and perform sign language on their palm so they could feel it, which is what they did in the mentioned movie.

Max said...

In an interview with the parents
http://deafness.about.com/od/deafblind/a/dbtriplets.htm
it is revealed that the Hooker triplets lost their eyesight due to prematurity of birth. And their deafness was a direct result of antibiotics needed to be administered to them in the NICU again because of their premature births.

These babies were delivered at 25 weeks of age, not even 2/3 of the time needed for a fully developed baby.

Although it is unclear if these girls were conceived in vitro, one thing is perfectly clear: society must look at what it's heroic efforts to sustain premature births are doing to the quality of life of many preemies, not to mention the families into which they are born.

And last, callous as it sounds, the tremendous cost to the medical, social and educational systems.

I both admire and pity the life that the Hookers have made for themselves with the life-long challenges that the triplets bring. Read this article to get a feel of the tremendous responsibilities that both the parents and society will bear for these childrens' lifetimes:
http://deafness.about.com/od/deafblind/a/dbtriplets.html

And I have to wonder at the quality of life these girls will have, and what will happen to them after their parents are gone.

Having said all this I say a little prayer for the girls and their parents. God Speed.

Jessica said...

Dr,Phil has more money than most people will ever see in a lifetime. I do not expect him to give every joe blow that walks onto his set cash or gifts. However he has his advisory board, and all these people that back him up. It broke my heart to see only one of the girls get the help that she needs, Get an intervener for ALL of them. One is not worth more than the other. And to the parents, just remember that God does not make nmistakes, and he picked the perfect set of paretns for them. You are in my prayer always, and don't ever think you can't handle it, because you can. GOD BLESS!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

After reading all of your comments I am horrified at the lack of support you all are showing! Have you all forgotten that this woman had TRIPLETS!! That in itself is a hard and challenging responsibility! Let alone the fact that they are special needs.
A year ago I gave birth to premature twins. One of which is special needs. She has Spina Bifida and has a lot of hurdles to face and we work hard with her. This woman has THREE special needs children who are not only deaf, but blind making communication difficult to teach. As if you all believe that she is not working with her children to teach her children what she can. Imagine the stress, emotions, and heart break this woman faces on a day to day basis. If you have nothing nice or supportive to say, then don't say it! You have no right to accuse this woman of anything just because you watched a show! You have no idea what this womans life is like! You all make me sick!