Deaf Upbringing Influences Lifestyles

The average person does not understand the struggles of a Deaf consumer.  We must first understand the perspective of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual. Each Deaf upbringing and lifestyle is effected by a variety of decisions and events.  Please note that we are considering “extreme” examples to emphasize points. It is important, however, to emphasize that there is not a one-size-fits all story.  If you are curious about a Deaf person’s story then ask them if they are willing to share.

Family Communication

Parental decisions heavily effect Deaf children as they develop.  Many Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals grow up in households where they are unable to communicate with their parents, siblings, and other family members.  Access to spoken language, or American Sign Language (ASL), can determine upbringing and lifestyle maturation.  Some families develop home signs or gestures, but even with basic gestures many times the message is lost. There is nothing wrong, per se, with home signs and gestures. But the challenge can come when the Deaf or Hard of Hearing child tries to communicate with people outside of their family.  Peers or teachers may not know what the home signs or gestures mean. In this case, the Deaf child must learn an entirely new language or accept isolation.

Hearing and Learning Language

deaf upbringingWhen examining the Deaf upbringing and lifestyle, consider most one to two-year-olds. They can understand basic concepts such as bed, eat, and bath because they have heard these words since birth. Leaving full language development and comprehension out of the equation, basic grammar and etiquette are learned through repetition. Much of what we learn in communication is based on what we hear. Take the example of a two-year-old who uses crude language. They likely were not taught to say a “bad word,” but they heard it and repeated it. This is necessary cycle for language development. Hear, repeat, receive correction, repeat.

Lack of Access to a Hearing World

There is typically not an equal exposure to the “hearing” world in Deaf upbringing and lifestyle as there is for a person who can hear. Imagine starting kindergarten without understanding what nap time or snack time is or why they transpire.  A Deaf child must reply on visual cues.  They must conclude on their own the meaning and purpose of such activities. The children who can hear versus the children who cannot hear experience life completely differently. A “hearing” child may start to get a negative or discriminatory view of a Deaf child because they “just won’t listen” or “doesn’t understand.”  Overtime, as Deaf children grow and become adults, the effects of dinner table syndrome appear.

Metal Illness vs. Language Disfluency

Deaf upbringing and lifestyle can often lead to mental health concerns or illegal behavior.  If no one can clearly explain to a Deaf person the difference between right and wrong, a human being simply follows instinct. Additionally, if a mentally ill Deaf person does not have a grasp of sign language and/or English, professionals may spend a great deal of time on discerning what is language disfluency and what is mental illness. This takes away from potential treatment time.

There are many more examples to consider when thinking about Deaf upbringing and lifestyle. Each Deaf person has a their own background and story.


Additional Resources:

The Importance of Learning Language Skills

The Importance of Early Language Learning for Baby


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review