How do you pick your friends?Do you pick them by race, by ag,e, by activity interest, by looks?As adults, we tend to interact with those who have similar interests. Some of us were raised to interact with people of the same race,religion, ability,socioeconomic value,etc.
When I look around the school I work in, I smile. This school has many deaf and hard of hearing children-those who sign,those who talk, those who sign and talk, those who have hearing aids, those who have cochlear implants, those who have multiple disabilities... The kind heartedness of the children never ceases to amaze me. It should not,but it does,because it is not my past reality. These children are all welcomed , accepted, looked at as "cool" and very much included. The extra special needs kids are "high fived" on the playground,allowed or invited into the games and jumprope competitions and play at their level. The deaf/hh kids blend right in. Some of the hearing kids sign,so you might look across a room and not even know who has the hearing loss and who does not.
The coolest thing I saw last week was two girls who had broken off ear hooks from plastic glasses and had them behind their ears..."Uh, what are you doing?" I asked, innocently, trying not to giggle at the creativity of 3rd graders.
Smiling up coyly, one responded," We want to have hearing aids like our friends..so we made them."
Is that cool or what?!
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.