Beyond the Ear: Why Say No?

The title does not intend for the concept of no being permissive but a responsible and logical answer.

A deaf teen asks his/her parents and the parents answer:

Can I learn how to drive?  No  Can I learn how to do the dishes? No  Can I feed the dog? No… Can I, Can I and the ‘can I’s go on… each with an answer of ‘No’. Finally the teen asks, ‘Why are you saying no?’, the parents answer back, “Because you are deaf”.

So the power of No when it comes to doing what basically are daily life skills can be demeaning to a child or an teen who has been constantly told “No” all his/her life.  Why should being deaf or a person with a disability be a barrier to living life to its fullest?

What happens to this person when his parents passes away? Everything has been done for him/her and he/she is dependent on his/her parents to do the job that he/she needed to learn years ago. Not only is it essential, these daily life skills such as cleaning the room, doing dishes, taking out the dog for a walk or driving enables a person to be independent most of the time. What I mean by “most of the time” is that it is okay to ask for help when needed. Really, it is okay to let them live and learn and help when they ask for it. Really.

The word “No” often is a negative term and can act as a double stigmata when it comes to allowing people with disabilities to learn various skills, find their limits and create solutions to those limits. Often, ‘no’ is a discipline tool, intended to teach a lesson or provide a rationale to why an action should not be done; however, when it comes to people who are deaf or others who have disabilities, it is a barrier.

A barrier, yes. It is a barrier between this person’s ability to achieve to his/her fullest, accessing resources available in the environment and becoming who they are intended to be. It is also a barrier to the parents, they will not be able to see their child become independent. They will probably endure complaints about the inability of their child to function without their help.

It is astonishing to see that the children of ‘no’s can be found in nursing homes, group homes, in jails, in mental health institutes because they are unable or limited to skills that they have learned because of one single word that is pretty much a stigmata thanks to the medical field (the media holds some responsibility as well), ‘deaf’.

Being deaf is not whole of each individual. There are many parts to this individual, once you say ‘no’, you are saying no to the whole on basis of one little part.  Saying “no” is a huge responsibility, often with repercussions.

Go beyond the ear and see the person for the whole, who they are, will be and can be. Be responsible for their life and future.  Why say no?  Let them live their life with your experience and education, let them experience life on their terms with your support.


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