Yesterday on the way to the speech therapist, we came across a family with 2 little kids struggling to get into the tram while we sat on our seats. Mt attention was drawn towards the woman as she had exaggerated mouth movements with no sounds.I realized she was deaf and was struggling with the kid's buggy,a little baby on her hip and trying to communicate with her husband through lip reading. He too had his other kid and bags.The struggle they had climbing in while having a tough time looking at each other trying to understand what the other was saying, was very touching for me too.The buggy toppled over,they could not hear it topple over and a person standing by tried to help them. In between all this struggle when they could not lip read, they tried to sign too. I was so frozen trying to understand their struggle. The isolation was obvious as no one in the tram could understand what they were trying to say. But just watched as silent spectators.
Prisha too watched this thing and was busy staring at them. the family settled down opposite us and started to sign and were busy sorting out the issue, arguing away. After a few minutes,the person looked at me and smiled, I looked at the woman and I told her that my daughter too had hearing aids. She nodded and pointed to her eyes and then to Prisha ...to say that she saw it. The man was without HA but was able to say few words in English. In the hushed tone and signs he asked if she spoke. I learned to lip read and so I said that Prisha wears aids and speaks.He wanted to know if she went to special school.When I told them that she spoke and went to International school like other normal kids,he kept silent.The woman looked on too...I wonder if it was a wishing look. The older kid was deaf too but as he threw away HA, they had got used to it and so did not insist on him wearing them and were comfortable that he too could lead a life like theirs as they knew no other.The man then communicated with a thumbs up for the younger one about his hearing....he could hear perfect ......with a victorious smile. I smiled said goodbye and left at our station.
Prisha then asked me if these people too could not hear. I had a session with her a few days ago when she was clear she did not want to sign. I told her and reinforced to her about why we keep working on her. She said "mum, I love talking, I always want to talk and talk.I don't want to do signs,you will help me more? And maybe when I grow up,my ears would be alright and I can hear without hearing aids." I was so touched, I held her hand tight and told her that we love her non stop chatter in the house and we love her singing and noway are we going to stop that. I just smiled at her wish , I have told her earlier though that as of now she is always going to have them till science makes progress and we are able to use stem cell to cure her deafness maybe some day.
This incident made me realize the struggle of the people who have had no access to AVT. The struggle between signs and lip reading, to people not understanding them and also the isolation due to lack of modes of communication made me realize how blessed I was to have Prisha lead a near normal life.She talks, sings and has no issues with communicating her needs to people even when I am not around.No one has to ask me what she wants to convey as she is able to do it herself.She makes friends, plays games and there are gaps in her understanding but that could happen to even hearing kids who has relocated into a new environment.We are all working on her through reading, writing, blogging, activities, games and doing loads of work sheets. It is just......a matter of time.