Max shares the experiences they have gone through having a Deaf sibling and how it has made Max ‘stronger and willing to speak out against injustice’
‘Kris, I know you may be reading this and still feeling guilty for having a rough time growing up, I wish you would forgive yourself, it was never your fault and I love you unconditionally’ – Max
Importance of support for hearing families with a Deaf child
Hearing parents will often experience a range of emotions when they find out their child is Deaf BUT it isn’t all bad, especially when you have support out there. Max highlights that ‘NDCS was incredibly helpful because they let Max and Max’s sister go on trips with their Deaf sibling to trips so that they were also experiencing the Deaf community’
Being involved in the Deaf community as a Deaf person is a part of ‘identity’ but when the siblings and parents are also given the opportunity to be involved, it opens so many doors for that family to get the support they need, like Max’s family.
9 out of 10 Deaf children are born to hearing parents, only 1 out of that 9 hearing parents will learn sign language. Max’s family learnt BSL at a later stage in their Deaf child’s life as Max uses a form of speech mixed with sign language – something we can refer to as SIGN SUPPORTED ENGLISH
Max did not learn BSL as a kid, Max felt that their deaf sibling was ‘ashamed to be deaf, it highlighted that he was different’
‘My parents took BSL lessons when my brother was young, I learnt later, the sessions with the social worker let us all be more deaf aware’
Deaf awareness is so important for the family unit, parents can choose their preference of communication but they must be deaf aware to ensure that child gets the best access not only in the household but in their education. ‘
Have you had any negative reactions/experiences when telling people, you have a deaf sibling?
‘They’ll treat him like he’s stupid or defective in some way, or even worse like an object’
Stereotypes are a common factor into the treatment of Deaf people within our society, it creates ignorance within hearing people because they are seeing false representations in society.
CUE THE SYMPATHETIC FACE
‘Oh I’m so sorry – I can’t imagine what that must be like – honestly, I don’t know how you deal with it’
4 things you have learnt from having a deaf sibling?
- Deaf people are ‘done dirty’ by society and the government. ‘People don’t realise how deep discrimination against deaf people goes’
- There is always ‘something new I need to learn’
- My sibling has indescribable strength
- It has made ‘me willing to speak out against injustice’
4 things you want other people to know about being a sibling of a deaf person?
- Our siblings aren’t a problem : ‘stop pitying us, feeling sorry for us, there’s nothing to feel sorry for, and I’m proud to say I have a deaf sibling
- Talk to us: ‘If you want to ask awkward questions about deaf people but don’t want to ask a deaf person – ask me, I’m not going to bite’
- Consider us too: ‘My struggles are nothing to do with having a deaf sibling’
- The real me: ‘I am not defined as a ‘hearing sibling’ to a deaf person, I am Max’
Now, Max is passionate about disabled people’s rights. Max now works as
- The Students with Disabilities Officer for Lancaster University Students Union (Part-Time) in joint with another person.
- The Sole Presenter for Rethink: 87.7 Bailrigg FM
To find out more about NDCS and the support they give to families of deaf children. Click the links below!