What does the word friend mean to you? Is it a companion, someone to hang out with, a supporter, or someone to share your hopes and dreams with? I think this word means different things to different people. To me, a friend is someone you really know and can depend on. I used to think you had to have met your friend in person, but now with the Internet, I have opened my heart to people I have never physically met. It scares me a bit, because I wonder if I really know them, or am I trusting in a world they have created? I joked with one friend that she could be a 50 year old creeper male.. But then I finally saw her on a VideoChat:). She is the real deal.
Over the years, many of my deaf and hard of hearing students will say , " Hi" to someone at school and tell me that person is their friend. However, they have no idea of that person's name nor have they ever done anything together. That bothers me. Sure, the student is happy to have someone to say ," hi!" to in the halls, but that is not real friendship. I think all kids deserve to learn how to make friends and keep friends. Best Buddies is one organization that has Regular Ed kids come together with Special Ed kids and have get togethers and outings. I think that is great. I wrote Forever Friends so kids with hearing loss would realize they are special, too. I wanted kids with typical hearing to see that kids with hearing loss are special, too, and that they could be friends together.
I think it is the job of parents and teachers to explain what a friend is, how to make a friend and how to keep a friend. What does friend mean to you?
Allison Schley has been in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education for 20 years. She founded a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She most recently wrote a children's book, entitled Forever Friends. This book shows the how a deaf dog and deaf boy teach the world that all kids are good and being deaf is okay.