Sunday, August 28, 2005

Ridiculous -- No, No -- Make It Ludicrous!

The miseducation of Deaf people's needs continues to plague us all. In Russia, this is no exception.

This is such a retard of anyone else to say that with the Cochlear Implants, Deaf Culture will dissipate. That is not entirely true. Like George Veditz once said, "When there is sign language, there will be always Deaf Culture around us."

Deal with it, Valery Panyushkin. Valery is definitely stupid.

Read this and laugh if you want to. I felt bad for Sasha, he is being duped by people who claimed that he'll be hearing person after getting the Cochlear Implants. But too bad, there will not be any articles that will do the follow-up on the surgery 's process and see if he'll be the last one standing. The whole thing is farce -- in fact, even if he got the implants, he'll still be Deaf, whether if you like it or not.



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From the newsroom of the Kommersant, Russia, Saturday, August 27, 2005:

The Last Deaf Mute

Sasha Mitichkin can be taught to hear and speak

by Valery Panyushkin

Sasha Mitichkin is two years old. He can't hear. The doctor says that Sasha is too little to suffer because of his deafness. He doesn't understand yet that people speak but he cannot, because he has never heard it being done.

The boy accepts the hearing aids his mother puts on him when he gets up in the morning as interesting toys, as other boys have toy stethoscopes. With the hearing aids, he boy hears faint, indistinct sounds, 20 percent of what people normally hear. The game ends at night. Sasha's mother takes the hearing aids off and puts him to bed to sleep in total silence.

They live in Voronezh. Sasha's mother Marina is a doctor by training, but she didn't understand that her son doesn't hear until Sasha was a year and a half old. Marina had some sort of infectious disease when she was pregnant. She didn't say what kind of disease, and I didn't ask, because she was already embarrassed by the involvement of a stranger in her life and her son's. “Maybe you don't have to photograph me? Maybe only Sasha? He's handsome and smiles all the time. I'm not very pretty any more and don't smile very much,” she said.

Marina's son was born deaf because of the infection his mother had during her pregnancy. But you can't tell whether newborns hear or not. Marina shook a rattle over the baby while he was in his crib and he followed the rattle with his eyes. Everyone thought he could hear. The doctor says now that the baby had exceptional eyesight, even peripheral vision, because of his deafness. All his mother had to do was lift the rattle and Sasha was watching and followed it with his eyes not because he heard it, but because it was red and shiny.

When Sasha was a little bigger, it seemed to Marina that he always turned when she called him. Or almost always. The doctor says that, because of his deafness, Sasha is disoriented and doesn't feel safe. He looks at his mother more often than she calls him. When Marina called him, the boy looked at her simply because he tried to keep her in view all the time. He couldn't tell that she was near otherwise. He couldn't hear her.

When Sasha was eight months old, he said his first word, “Mama.” Martina was flattered. When he was a year old, he still said “mama,” but nothing else. And when he was a year and a half old, just that repeated syllable ma.

Marina took the boy to the doctor. An audiologist in Voronezh said that Sasha had fourth-degree hearing reduction, that Marina had to buy hearing aids and work on his speech development. The doctor also recommended that she take him to Moscow for further examination. In Moscow, they said that Sasha was profoundly deaf.

They work on his speech development any way. It seems that Sasha hears a little through the hearing aids. Marina shows the boy a postcard with a picture of a cat on it and the boy makes a sound that resembles meowing. She shows him a picture of a dog and his make a sound similar to a bark. Marina beats a drum and the boy marches in time to it. He doesn't like that exercise, but not many people like marching. It's possible that he doesn't hear anything even with the hearing aids, and is just trying to make his mother happy with what he has learned by chance, meowing at the picture of a cat and woofing for the dog picture. He could be marching to the drum because he sees the drumstick rising and falling, not because he hears the drum.

I ask Marina if she takes him to kindergarten.

“No,” she answers. “We have a kindergarten for deaf children. They teach children sign language and lip reading there. But we need to teach him to hear.”

In a few years, there will be no more deaf children on Earth. The technology for cochlear implants already exists. It allows children who are born deaf to hear normally. Crudely put, the hearing aid is not placed on the ear but implanted in the head. But the operation is very expensive. Sasha's parents don't have the money for it.

In a few years, cochlear implants will become cheaper and more accessible. All deaf children will have the operation and will be able to hear.

Sasha Mitikhin will be one of the last deaf children on Earth.

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