Allow mainstream integrated deaf people to reclaim their Deafness and Deaf behaviours. Allow them to take as long as they need, cuz you don’t know what they were made to believe while growing up away from the Deaf world. Don’t punish them for acting ‘hearing’ cuz many of us didn’t get a fairly informed choice.
Alright a few Deaf/HOH has been discussing and telling their stories about Mainstream school.
Mainstream school is you’re either the only deaf/hoh individual in the entire school full of hearing people. Or, you’re in a program with a few deaf/hoh within the hearing school. This is quite different compared to going to a Deaf school itself. Most deaf/hoh children go to mainstream schooling, who deal with isolation, speech therapy, the only kid knowing Sign Language with a Sign Language interpreter following them around… I could go on.
But with my experience?
I was mainstream all through K-12. I had hearing aids, FM System, teacher assistant (TA), speech therapy (k-12), teacher of the deaf (TOD). Did I enjoy it? Not so much. I was isolated most of my life. I never had really any true friends. If I did have ‘friends’ I was the following, quiet. I would follow the group and just play with them. Class discussions? I was always quiet. My TA’s, Teachers, Principals treated me like I was 5 when I was actually in grade 5 (they treated me like I was ‘stupid’ since all throughout the years). I remember my TA would sit next to me and take me work and just do it for me. “Oh, she doesn’t understand it, so I’ll do it for her” Well of course I didn’t understand it because a) it wasn’t explained properly to me and b) you took my work and did it. I remember my TA would take my paper and just write on it. If my English sentence wasn’t good enough, she’d change it to make it ‘better’. They questioned why my “comprehension of the work” I wasn’t getting it or expressing it. WELL HELLO! REASON!
I also remember the FM System… oh god memories of good AND bad. Teachers who forget to turn them off and go pee, or worse… Gossip within the lounge area… (Hey you do get important information!) One time I was sitting in class and my TA was doing her thing, I was doing my homework. Teacher left the class. When I hear something through my HAs… “So when are we telling the students about the field trip?” (Teacher asked other grade class). Teacher: Next Thursday? Okay. I’m listening to all of this like “OOH? FIELD TRIP?!” when I heard this I looked up from my work and my TA is like “Whats up?” Me: Oh, nothing… just thinking… homework… when in reality I was listening to the teachers discussing when and what field trip. Oh the joys…
Most of my Elementary years was hanging out with the Supervisor of the playground or with adults. No one wanted to play with me because I was ‘different’ and also cuz this Bully wanted to ruin my life.
When we had to do group projects (this is especially in High School) I got isolated and no one wanted to be partners with the “Deaf kid”. It was quite embarrassing and sad. That bully i mentioned above? Still tormented me all through until grade 10. She finally left and I was so pleased. Grade 11 was when I FINALLY made a few friends, and still have a couple to this day that I hangout with.
So yes, isolation happened 90% of my schooling life. I had speech therapy all through it and I got to miss crucial moments like socializing with my classmates, going to certain classes just because speech therapy. My social skills were delayed and I was considered ‘weird’ so I connected myself with books, internet.
I still do this now… but during school I never really wore my HAs (Hearing aids) and if I did it was a MUST because FM System and TA would be watching me. But I still managed to not wear them. Grade 6-10 I never wore them, relied on lipreading, and my residual hearing. I remember my TOD, Speech therapist and my teachers would bribe me into wearing them. NOPE! FINALLY Grade 11 I wore them most of the time and same with Grade 12 here and there. Hey, I still passed and graduated. I got told my doctors, teachers, even my principal that I wouldn’t be able to graduate. Yeah I graduated (not the best grades but I did get Honour Roll and Special Merit) proved those suckers wrong. Yes, I still don’t wear my HAs even to this day only when I really have to, so at work, or with hearing friends who don’t know ASL.
I could write a 20 page essay about my entire mainstream experience… but with all of the other Deaf/HOH individuals… it will compile.
“I know my little ‘dirty drawings’ are never going to hang in the main salons of the Louvre, but it would be nice if – I would like to say 'when,’ but I better say 'if’ – our world learns to accept all the different ways of loving. Then maybe I could have a place in one of the smaller side rooms.” - Tom of Finland