Friday, July 10, 2009
Summer Camp at Gallaudet
We just finished our first of two weeks at Gallaudet's Speech Hearing and Aural Rehab Camp. I know Christian is having an absolute blast (he's so tuckered out when he gets home!), which is THE most important goal of our summer schedule with him. He loves his teachers, and talks about his friends he's made. They do art, they play outside, and have snack together. It's Christian's first camp experience, and he seems to love it.
One of our biggest challenges that we face with Christian is that he happens to be this superstar kid, who speaks and listens better than the average 2.5 year old (or even 3.5 year old according to test scores!), but also happens to be severe-profoundly deaf. Socially, Christian comes off and passes for just another typically hearing kid. All of his friends in the neighborhood are hearing. His whole family is hearing. Academically, he comes off and passes for another typically hearing kid. We do not use a visual system in the classroom (although, I have my money on it that Christian is learning to lipread when he needs to). Christian's world is the hearing world.
The children in Christian's camp use various modalities of communication. Some are oral. Some sign. And some used Cued Speech. I am very glad that he's had the exposure, and he's shown an interest in signing since the week began. He even told me "My friend talks with his hands". The main reason we chose to kick off our summer with Gallaudet's camp is for this very reason. I wanted him to be around kids who have ears like him. I wanted him to start to understand that other children are deaf too. And I wanted him to understand that some children who are deaf don't use their voice to talk, but use their hands.
Being on campus at Gallaudet has really opened up my eyes and my heart. I never EVER want Christian's hearing loss to define who he is, however I want him to be comfortable with his hearing loss and with his deaf identity. We went into the little store on campus to get some apple juice, and behind the counter was a very handsome young man who had a Cochlear Implant (A FREEDOM!) in one ear. He looked down, and said to Christian "We're the same" with a big smile on his face, while signing "same" to him. Christian looked up, touched his CI, and said "That's my CI too!". I encouraged Christian to "Sign and Say It", and my little guy signed and said "Same" back. I was a very proud hearing Momma.