Rebecca-Anne Withey: Being resilient is so important if you’re deaf

Posted on August 3, 2017



I do believe that having a dis-ability of any kind means that you’re either born with or develop a set of innate skills to get you through life’s inevitable challenges.

I’ve always said a sense of humour seems to go hand in hand with deafness. That and a whooooole lot of patience.

But the quality that I’m thinking of that’s the most relevant here is resilience. The actual definition of it is:

“The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

Becoming aware of my own resilience is not something that I was spoken to about as a child. But the notion of having to bounce back from let downs and overcome problems became a familiar one from a young age.

Getting through the insecurity of deafness when with hearing peers, dealing with bullies, struggling with communication and social interactions; these are all common scenarios for deaf children.

But like they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?

Ha. I don’t feel strong at the moment. I’ve had a stressful week and I feel far from resilient right now. All I’ve been hearing/seeing is the word NO.

“No, your daughter can’t have support from a teacher of the deaf; no, we can’t repair your hearing aid as you need to be reassessed and NO we will not renew your access to work support.”

Give me a break. 

I know that dealing with difficulties means breaking problems down, prioritising and making a plan of action. But when you’re being told no so many times and there’s no room for negotiation, there’s only so much positivity you can muster.

Which is why I’ve been biding my time, gathering my energy and becoming objective about the situations I’m in. Resilience isn’t all about go go go and do do do, sometimes it’s pausing and breathing so that you feel strong enough to try again.

I’m trying again with Access to Work but I’m in limbo land at the moment. I’ve been told my renewal for support has been rejected so I’ve sent it to be reconsidered and I’m awaiting a decision on that. If it’s another no, I need to go higher and speak to my local MP perhaps about how I can be supported if Access to Work are not willing to help.

It’s ironic that given how hard it is for deaf people to find good work, you’d expect support to be put in place immediately without a hitch. But nope. There’s a whole bunch of rules and points and a criteria that the advisors have to meet.

And fortunately after pestering (what feels like) a hundred people, I’ve finally secured a Teacher of the Deaf and specialist support for my daughter. Even when so-called professionals told me that she “didn’t meet the criteria for support.” This will be the first battle of many, I’m sure, but I’ll be ready.

I am tired of fighting but I refuse to give up. Activists of any type are bound to experience despair and anger but they don’t lose sight of what they’re trying to achieve. Even if it means taking a few days off from it all to regain some perspective.

That type of wise resilience; of knowing when to pause and when to pounce, is something I really hope I can pass onto my children. Because with all the challenges, closed doors and NO’s in this world, I think they’re going to need it.

By Rebecca-Anne Withey. Read more of Rebecca’s articles for us here.

Rebecca-Anne Withey is a freelance writer with a background in Performing Arts & Holistic health. 

She is also profoundly deaf, a sign language user and pretty great lipreader. 

Her holistic practices and qualifications include Mindfulness, Professional Relaxation Therapy, Crystal Therapy and Reiki. 

She writes on varied topics close to her heart in the hope that they may serve to inspire others.

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