Friday, May 7, 2010

Who's Right?

Have you seen this news story?

Emma is 8 years old, and her parents are not married. Emma is deaf, as is her father, but Emma also has cochlear implants. Emma's mother has taken Emma's father to court, hoping that the court will force the dad to make Emma use her implants when she visits him. Currently, both Emma and her father communicate via sign language.

Emma's mom, in court documents "has stressed the importance of wearing the devices at all times for continued progress with her hearing and speech."

Emma's father said, "I’m willing to have her do whatever makes her comfortable. I want to give my daughter her own choices in life."

Emma, when she is with her father, says she wants to "be deaf like daddy."

How would you handle this situation? I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer, but I wonder what the court will ultimately decide. I know that for me and my deaf children, being deaf is not a disability.

I am not a proponent of cochlear implants for my children, but I do not judge parents who make that choice for their children. When I feel my children can make their own decisions about cochlear implants, I will do whatever I can to support those decisions.

What are your thoughts?


Doc McConnell said...

It seems like the mother is jealous of the bond that father and daughter share. It also seems that if the goal of the cochlear implants is for the daughter to learn to communicate, she is not hindering that progress by taking them out when she visits her father.

I have always been a firm believer in the power of sign language to bring people together, and I wish that more people could appreciate the same thing.

Janet said...

One issue here is that the father is allowing an 8-year-old to make an adult decision. Something she doesn't have the maturity to do.

Another issue is that one of the implants in uncomfortable -- that seems like an easy issue to resolve.

I think it is fine that the father/daughter use ASL when they are together.

Azaera said...

I disagree with the person who said that he's allowing an 8 year old to make an adult decision. He's allowing an 8 year to make a decision about her own body and her own life. I agree with you Deborah, it should be up to the child.

Why should someone else get to decide for you what is right for you? Whether you are a child or not you should have the right to make choices about your body and your means of communication. A child is first and foremost a person. As long as they aren't endangering their life why should we intervene? Taking away her freedom to choose for herself is cruelty in my eyes.

I believe in letting people (especially children) have responsibilities and make their own mistakes. How will they learn if they never have the chance to make mistakes or succeed in doing things that they have chosen to do? It's not fair to take away her ability to decide for herself.

Terri said...

My friends who are divorced do not get to dictate--beyond safety--what goes on at their ex's houses. This is a big source of frustration for all of them.

I agree that she should be able to sign with her dad and not with her mom. I don't think it is an adult decision--she is choosing between two normal things: deafness and hearing... not something life or death. And deafness is a part of her, she should like that about herself.

I like your perspective, Deborah about not doing the implants for your kids, but supporting them if that is what they choose someday.

Emily said...

I think we really don't have enough of the story to know what's really going on. I think an eight year old is old enough to know what communication modality she feels most comfortable with, but if she wants to "hear" using the CI long term then both of her parents need to help her reach that goal by insisting that she use the CIs regularly. She may be old enough to know whether she wants to speak/sign or a combination, but she isn't old enough to make a plan to reach those goals and follow through completely independently. If she wants to speak when with mom and sign when with dad, then I think dad should allow/encourage the CI use. If she really doesn't want to hear/speak or wear the CIs at all (even when with mom) then I think mom needs to accept that her daughter has made another choice and back off a bit.
The implant should not be uncomfortable for her, although I would tend to think that probably she's just never fully acclimated to that side since she got it when she was 5 and has not been using her CIs full time. CIs are fairly all or nothing. If she wants to hear well from that side, she needs to wear her processor full time.