Saturday, April 23, 2011

Believe In Yourself

This is a story about Jillian Szenderski, a pre-kindergarten student who has been implanted with cochlear implants. It's a success story about the child who now has intelligible speech and will go on to "regular" kindergarten next year.

However, buried in the article is a quote from speech pathologist Sarah Wilson.
“Unfortunately, people who have hearing aides only, really can only get to a fourth grade reading level. [...] "You can't get very far in school with that reading level. Research has shown people with implants can go in regular classes, graduate from high school, go to college. So, the impact on education is humongous."
And this quote makes me very sad.

I have worn hearing aids since I was four years old. I never took special courses and I was "mainstreamed" all throughout school. Not once, from any teacher, my parents or any school administrator, did anyone say I would only get to a fourth grade reading level. I never heard anyone say I would not do well in school, graduate high school, or go to college. I find it very sad and frustrating that a speech pathologist, someone who presumably has contact with children, might be saying things like this, to parents, teachers or children.

School desks by DQmountaingirl on Flickr

Deafness is absolutely no reason to stop anyone from graduating high school, attending college if they wish and landing a good job. Whether a deaf person signs, speaks, has a hearing aid or uses a cochlear implant (or any combination of those), there is no reason they should face a lack of education. Deafness does not correlate with mental difficulties and it doesn't stop anyone from learning, and a cochlear implant does not magically grant intelligence or an easy path to college.

Of course, needless to say, I wear hearing aids and have done everything Sarah Wilson says I can't. I read hundreds of books a year at well beyond a fourth-grade reading level. I graduated high school. I attend college and I have a fulltime job at a place where I'm expected to know things.

Thanks to everyone who made me able to fulfill my dreams by never breathing a word about ugly stereotypes and always supporting me.


  1. This never ceases to amaze me. This was the "average" about 25 years ago. What this speech pathologist needs to understand is that 25 years old, at the same tinme this "4th grade reading level" nonsense started, the average NATIONAL level (for hearing people) was 6th grade.

    It also never ceases to amaze me how ignorant people like this are. There are thousands of Deaf people who grew up with ASL and English (bilingual, etc) who read proficiently, write proficiently, and do things that millions of hearing people cannot. How can someone like this speech pathologist work with Deaf people and not know this?


  2. I blogged about it too. There's always going to be ignorant people. However, I'd think a speech language pathologist should have known better that it's not true. It's possible that is what they're teaching speech language pathologists these days?

  3. My question is does anybody have any statistics from variety of sources of Deaf/deaf/HOH/CI population, who reads at 4th grade level? My problem with several research documents is they do not separate Deaf/deaf/HOH/CI population into each category as well as what languages they utilize and what hearing loss level do they have. In other words, it would be a very through research if they include their background such as growing up in divorce, single, married, and/or partner's environment, peer groups, the surrounding environment such as living nearby poverty along with a lot of factory, heavy duty electrical systems, and so forth, their health conditions, and several other factors that can influence the Deaf/deaf/HOH/CI population of learning English. Therefore, it is almost impossible if they could conduct a better research base on many factors that include their studies because it takes too much time, money, energy, and other issues. There will always be some biased to the research. In my pipe dream, I just hope that they will have a better structure of research to help us all to have a better idea of how to assist Deaf/deaf/HOH/CI population to learn English language better in the long run.


  4. My goodness. This is so pathetic. We do not need audiologists like her, spreading idiotic messages such as these.

    My parents found out about my deafness at 9 months old... and here I am, 42 years later, halfway through my Masters program. All without the assistance of technology! So there!

  5. Both my son and I have hearing problems. During one of the parent teacher conferences regarding my son's abilities in school we were told that even though he was a freshman in highschool he had the reading skills of a 21 year old. I had had figured that since we always watch television with the closed captions on that it contributed to his reading skills as he knows many advanced words. His writing may not be as high but then again most teens writing skills nowadays are horrible.

  6. CI?? Recommended?? no... Cochlear implants have a bad side effects which can occured to death. Implanting on the child is a great risky due to Neurology and Psychosocial. The childhood migraine variants as sickness lead to death from the Infectious Diseases and bad environmental because, for example, Something happen to ci users, go emergency hositpal and the doctors cannot do the MRI, Cardiac Arrest, Shock Cardiogenic, Radiation Emergencies, Electronic Machines, so you let your child to die beacuse of cochlear implant in the skull could a greater of damage in the nerve damage or brain damage. That's the facts. I am sorry, if you feel offened. The matter of fact, the CI doctors and Audiologists hyocrited and manipulations because just for hositpal and doctors profits! Consider yourself and think twice!

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