MadSci Network: Medicine
Query:

Re: can a person make themeselves go deaf by accadent, or other wise?

Date: Wed May 7 12:15:11 2008
Posted By: Meghan Clayards, Grad student, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 1207663255.Me
Message:

Jack,

This is an interesting question. There are ways that a person could make themselves deaf by damaging their hearing, but all of them that I know of are permanent and painful! I donít think your friend should try to injure herself.

I do understand that she must feel different from her parents and the other deaf people around her. She doesnít share the same experiences as them and she doesnít know what it feels like to be deaf. A lot of people, especially kids, have this problem even if they donít have deaf parents. Often parents move to a new country and a new culture before they have their kids. Then the kids are born into a different culture, often with a different language. The kids may feel like their culture outside of the home is very different from their parentsí culture, and they may find it very difficult to understand or feel part of their parentsí culture. Do you know the movie ďBend it like BeckhamĒ? In this movie the girl Jess feels like this. Her parents are from India but she is born in Britain. Some people who feel like this call themselves bi-cultural because they feel like they really live in two cultures.

So your friend should know that there are lots of kids out there who feel like she does; lots of kids of deaf parents and lots of other bi-cultural and bi-lingual kids. All of these kids find it tough at times. They canít always understand their parents and their parents canít always understand them. It might take them their whole lives to figure out how to be happy in both cultures. The great thing is that all these kids get to grow up understanding about more than one culture. And if theyíre lucky they learn more than one language. Your friend probably knows ASL which is something not a lot of hearing people get to learn. She will also have opportunities that her parents donít have. She can talk with her friends about her favorite music. When she goes to a foreign country she can hear a foreign language.

Your friend should definitely try to understand and enjoy the side of her culture that is deaf (even if she isnít). And she should also try to understand and enjoy the side of her culture that is hearing. She should talk to her parents about trying to meet other kids of deaf adults (KODAs or CODAs) who will probably know how she feels. One place to start is to look at the organizations for Children of Deaf Adults.

Like any two cultures, the deaf culture and the hearing culture will never completely understand each other. But when they try, people can be really good at getting along even if they donít share exactly the same culture.

Meghan


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