One of the hardest things for me to endure, as the mother of a Deaf child, is the exclusion of Alex by the hearing neighbourhood kids. Admittedly, part of it is my fault. Explaining why would be going off on a tangent, however, so I’ll leave that for tomorrow’s post.
Alex does have friends at school, but they live all over the province. Some are in residence on campus, many live miles away. So it’s difficult for him to get together with them outside of school. But like any kid, he sees children his own age outside his own house playing and he wants to join in. There are a couple who will play with him as long as their friends aren’t around – understandable in a way, since once they start discussing what they’re going to do, it’s hard to include Alex in the conversation. But even when they’re alone with Alex, they eventually get frustrated with trying to communicate with him. So they stop playing.
Then there are the kids across the street. He went over to play with them once, but they had no tolerance for him. They complained to one of Alex’s friends that does play with him that he “gives them a headache.” I wonder where they got that phrase from. It’s not often you see a perfectly healthy 7 or 10 year old child with an actual headache. Since that one time, they’ve sent him away and left me to explain to him that they don’t want to play with him. Or worse, they’ve let him stay and made fun of him, thinking he can’t understand. As I’ve mentioned before, most of sign language is body language and facial expression. He understands just fine. Incredibly, I’ve even had one of them accuse him of hitting her so she could use the excuse that he was mean to her. She figured, I suppose, that he would be unable to explain to me what really happened.
It doesn’t seem to matter how much we teach our children tolerance (though the kids and their parents across the street could use a lot more), they will be kids. They have their own interests, which don’t always include being able to play with only minimal communication. It’s a tough issue. One I can’t see a solution for.