Leigh Taylor: 10 things you should never say to the (hearing) parent of a deaf child

Posted on January 16, 2013

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Leigh Taylor is a hearing mum of two children, one of whom is deaf and has a life-limiting condition. In between juggling the children, a full-time job and a never-ending stream of hospital appointments for her daughter, Leigh likes to make a nuisance of herself by arguing with the LEA about appropriate school placements, transport provision, speech therapy and so on.

After reading our 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Deaf Person list, Leigh wrote her own list of ’10 things you should never say to the (hearing) parent of a deaf child – along with some of the things that she’s been tempted to say in response. Here they are…

1. What’s wrong with her?

Nothing. What’s wrong with you?

2. She’s doing so well… considering.

Stop patronising me! She’s either doing well, or she’s not. ‘Considering’ is such an insidious word.

3. But she looks normal!

She’s not normal – she’s superhuman.

4. Oh dear – special needs, is she? How do you cope?

Oh dear – your poor son. How do you cope?

5. I bet sometimes you wish that she’d never been born?

No, I’ve never experienced that particular emotion. I suggest you ask your mother how that might feel – no doubt she knows.

6. But she just heard me shouting – she can’t be deaf!

The whole room heard you – you sound like Brian Blessed with a megaphone.

7. Will she grow out of it?

Oh yes, When she reaches puberty her old,’broken’ ears will fall off and be replaced by shiny new ones which will work perfectly.

8. Ah – I’ve been watching her for 15 minutes and I knew there was something wrong with her, but I couldn’t work out what.

Really? I’ve been looking at you for 15 seconds and I can tell exactly what’s wrong with you.

9. Isn’t it great that they have Mr Tumble on TV for kiddies like her?

Oh yes. But she’s nearly 12 and she’s kind of grown out of Cbeebies…And no – just because your 5 year-old knows the makaton signs for ‘wee wee’ and ‘biscuit’, it doesn’t mean he’s going to grow up to be a teacher of the deaf.

10. Well,she’s lucky – at least she’ll be able to claim DLA when she’s older.

Yes, that’s fabulous for her. I don’t know why we’re even bothering to send her to school and beat an education into her, when she always has the benefits system to fall back on.

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