Friday, January 11, 2008

The Dance of Language, by Sara Kennedy

I met Sara Kennedy several years ago when I first joined the board of Hands & Voices. I knew I liked this hip mom from the beginning, as she was also a homebirth mom. Sara wrote a beautiful article about the delicate dance of language and communication and I wanted to share it with my readers:

Not so long ago, I looked down at a 14 month old toddler in my lap after learning that she could not hear. Those intense blue eyes confounded me – did I know her? Did she know me? Communication as I had known it halted altogether. Sara Madeleine became again, in my fear of the unknown, the little stranger that she had been to me on her first day of life, before we started the dance of learning to know one another. Like most parents, I don’t think I heard another word the audiologists said after “your daughter has a profound hearing loss.”

As a health care provider, what surprised me next was that it was up to us, as parents, to decide how we wanted to communicate with her. There weren’t reams of double blind randomized controlled trials to tell us that a majority of children learned to read and write well or to speak or to become CEO’s with this or that method. It was up to us, a couple who couldn’t yet define otoacoustic emissions or knew anything about the oppression of Deaf people in history… to choose Maddie’s first language.

To read Sara's full article go here: The Dance of Language.


kw said...

Thank you for posting this! I wish she would write a book! :-)

SpeakUp Librarian said...

What a wonderful article. I especially liked this sentence about respecting her daughter's language choices in the future: "We brought her to the feast". That really summed up responsible parenting to me.

LaRonda said...

Very emotional rendition of what a parent feels and questions. Powerful. Thank you for sharing. Empathy in our community is so important. Just stepping into another person's shoes for even a moment makes a difference. I want to be a person of compassion, so I try to listen with the ear of my heart.

~ LaRonda

Jim said...

I found this blog from another blogger and added yours to my "blog to read list".

I enjoy reading your blog. I am deaf (hard-of-hearing) and also have MS.

I will be looking forward to read your future postings.