My Daughter’s Hidden Disability (Washington Post)
Updated: Jul 16
When others understand what it’s like to parent a child with a rare type of hearing loss, the world can open up for everyone.
With bright blue eyes and a head full of blond ringlets, 5-year-old Camille elicits the attention of strangers on a regular basis.
The interactions often go one of two ways: A person compliments Camille, and she stares back at them deadpan. The attempted conversation draws to an awkward halt, at which time I jump in to explain we are both hard of hearing. Because Camille chooses silence when she can’t comprehend spoken dialogue, people interpret her speechlessness as lack of intellect, but that is far from the truth.
The other typical scenario occurs if the person has heard Camille speak. “She doesn’t sound deaf,” they’ll exclaim, followed by a question that implies her hearing loss must not be substantial. Yet unaffected speech is characteristic of her type of hearing loss, which makes it undetectable to most — a hidden disability, and one that we are forever justifying to strangers.
As our society begins to pay more attention to the importance of diversity and the need for inclusion, my hope is that our family’s experiences can shine a light on the deaf and hard of hearing — and all that we have to offer.
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