Thursday, April 17, 2014

"All deaf children have some cognitive challenges" - A Diagnosis of Audism

First, read this article by author Katherine Bouton - (NY Times)

Did you catch it?

"All deaf children have some cognitive challenges" - Bouton

Yeah. That's what the parent/science writer got from Dr. Marc Marschark, according to the author/deaf CI user.

However, our favorite Cued Speech advocate/researcher never made that statement. That's what happens when you make assumptions based on what you read. It sounds like the science writer inferred from the information she came across that deaf children had cognitive challenges as a result of hearing loss.

You gotta love the internet.

I wonder if Bouton is already feeling the heat for that one line, especially how she framed it the way she did. After all, reading that one line makes me think that Dr. Marschark said that statement himself, even though I know better. However, if Denworth truly believed that all deaf children had some cognitive challenges as a result of reading Dr. Marschark's work, then woops.

Imagine Dr. Marschark's reaction when he saw the article for himself.

"I was surprised to read the New York Times article A Son’s Deafness Prompts a Scientific Journey and learn that its author, Ms. Bouton, with whom I have never spoken, had written that I stated that “All deaf children have some cognitive challenges.” Not only have I never said that, there is no evidence to support such a claim.
When I do presentations about raising and educating deaf children for parents, teachers, and other audiences around the world, one of my clearly stated conclusions, based on the research evidence, is “differences do NOT equal deficiencies.”
Sadly, throughout history, many in our society have believed that individuals who are deaf are less intelligent than those who hear. The evidence simply does not support that perspective. To suggest that “all deaf children have some cognitive challenges” is not only incorrect, it is insensitive. And for Ms. Bouton and the Times to be unwilling to correct the record is simply wrong." - Dr. Marschark's Pet Project 

That has got to be awkward for both Bouton and Denworth.

[EDIT 4/17/2014] The NY Times has posted a correction on the statement basically stating Dr. Marschark's comment was "incorrectly paraphrased." Katherine Bouton is a former NYT editor...

Another point I found interesting because Bouton felt the need to include this:
"He scores 100 percent on a speech recognition test, though this does not mean he hears the way hearing children do." - Bouton 

That "speech recognition test" I know so well. Average 2 audiology visits a year, with 30 minutes minimum of speech recognition testing and that's at least 60 hours spent in the booth for a 30 year old. Personally, I think I've spent maybe at least 150 hours in the booth listening to the audiologist say words like "hotdog," "baseball," and so on. I can do 100% on these tests, yet when it comes to speech discrimination in noise, it's a bitch. I think my best score was 40%.

However, this quote takes the cake. Ready to get pissed off?
 "From my own experience, I would ask if there are any deaf adults for whom language is not an issue." - Bouton 

WOW! I cannot imagine the subtle dig at the deaf community. Aren't you mad! Aren't you angry! Well, I'm not. This is the kind of stuff I would typically hear from brainwashed parents at AG Bell conferences and snotty AVT specialists who believe sign language is truly harmful to spoken language development.

This ... is... audism...

Even deaf people are guilty of audism too, as evidenced in Bouton's case. Yet, it's up to us to prove these naysayers wrong about the idea of deaf people acquiring language in the absence of audition. Deaf children of deaf parents or fluent signers have that advantage of first language exposure and the same applies to deaf children of parents who cue as well.

In the end, Denworth shouldn't be crucified for what she believed to be true in her mind. After all, it's not her fault we live in a society that's audio-centric. We shouldn't crucify Bouton either because she doesn't have that experience of deafness like we do. After all, she lost her hearing at age thirty.

The point here is you don't consciously become an audist. It's ingrained into your subconscious based on the environment in which you live in.

Here's an example of subconscious racism.

There was a 7 year old deaf boy who went into a Hardee's with his parents in this rural town in North Carolina. When he walked into the restaurant, he asked "Why are there so many black people?" At that moment, the mother froze and turned red in embarrassment. She had heard her own son say something racist.

That boy would go on to sit with the lonely black kid at lunch during school a few years later and establish friendships with people of African-American heritage.

It wasn't an overnight transformation, but I eventually was able to let go of my subconscious racism, which was a product of the culture I lived in. 

Just because we make racist comments without realizing it doesn't necessarily mean we're consciously racist. The same thing applies to audism.

Help educate Katherine Bouton on the issue of language and deafness. Keep it positive and empower her to learn more about the challenges we have faced growing up with hearing loss. Keep pushing the idea that you can acquire language naturally through sign language or Cued Speech. Let's redefine #deaf.


Nina Endler said...

I nominate this for blog post of the year!

Tara Congdon said...

"From my own experience, I would ask if there are any deaf adults for whom language is not an issue." - Bouton

Thank you, Aaron, for pointing out how wrong this is. She has revealed in this statement alone just how LIMITED her "experience" is. Fairly typical of late-deafened adults to operate on a base of erroneous assumptions about prelingually deafened people based on their limited experiences and preexisting assumptions developed while they were hearing. Late-deafened people should never presume to speak for or about other categories of deaf people. Focus on yourselves and your own distinct, unique needs and experiences, please. You don't speak for me, you don't know jack about life as a prelingually deafened person, and most of what you and other late-deafened people say about me and others like me tends to be outrageously wrong or twisted.

I'm a child of hearing adults, and despite all statements to the contrary by ignorant hearing people (including certain hearing parents), it is entirely possible for a deaf child to grow into a deaf adult with absolutely NO language problems. All it takes is, hey ho, there we go, early language access, in whatever mode. Simple as that.

Ms. Bolton, your question has been answered in the affirmative. PLENTY of these deaf adults DO exist. Thank you very much.

Natalya said...

I found this article difficult to read cos of all the moving video... Just a thought.

In terms of content I didn't read it as negatively as you did. I think the author was trying to point out that a deaf person is not hearing and even if they "seem" ok they probably are having to work harder to achieve that... But that's my British English parse on the language which could be wrong.

Dianrez said...

Thanks for the correction, and I agree that it can be unintentionally audist. Fortunately a correction was published at the end of the column, and the mention about Deaf children of Deaf parents learning language comparative with hearing kids was barely noticed.

Unfortunately, that audist comment about cognitive challenges is more likely to stick with people, especially those with an invested interest in hearing and speech fields despite the correction. I wish it wasn't happening, but human nature seems to work that way.

Anonymous said...

As a brain washed AGBell parent, I do take offense at the attitude CS now. I learned so much from AGB,the best listening techniques the optimal hearing aids, technique for speech. We used to visit Dr Ling in the summer for help with my daughters speech. I optimized language using CS. I was an AGB Deaf Children's Rights coordinator at the same time I was a CS regional Director. AGB deserves the highest praise for helping parents not these snide insults.

Aaron R. said...

Is it about AG Bell itself, or is it about parents who listen to audists and buy into the idea that visual communication is not good?

We have had parents who make it like Cued Speech is some sort of curse. That's the brainwashed parent I speak of. You certainly don't sound like one of them so I applaud that.

Brainwashing is a subconscious process that arises out of audism and I understand that personally as I was "brainwashed" by leftist radicals while at NC State. I finally got outside perspective and moved on from that lifestyle.