Lack of Core Community Support
This video on Twitter hit home in a big way. I'd encourage you to watch it before reading the rest of this article.
For whoever needs this this evening. pic.twitter.com/cDsF1vnbRc— Chrissy(@EssentialSign_) December 24, 2019
For those of you that know me personally, you may be aware of the fact that, approximately three years ago, my daughter appeared to lose 100% of her hearing. By the grace of God and the amazing audiology team at Children's Hospital of Colorado, we were (eventually) able to get half her hearing back due to addressing her allergies and the other half with hearing aids. Today, with the assistance of her "ear pluggers" as she calls them, she can 100% participate in school and life on the same playing field as most children.
Then there is this video. Imagine being a deaf person in a family that doesn't sign. I can imagine what this might be like because our daughter went through this for a brief period of time while we were still trying to determine what had happened to her. One day she was participating in life, and the next, she wasn't. She seemed more afraid, more disconnected, and angry. At the time, we were confused. In retrospect, it all makes perfect sense. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to cope at age 3 with parents that were talking, but she was unable to hear.
My heart goes out to the child in this video. Sure, she's probably learned some impressive coping strategies to get by. However, the fact that she lacks support at her core community level (her family) must still hurt. Sure, learning sign language is a non-trivial task, and it may seem like a lot for just one person. But imagine if you're that one person. Imagine if it was your son or daughter. Would that not be enough?
Here's where things may hit closer to home or work with you.
It's not just people that are deaf or blind. Sure, those are obvious examples, but there are many, many around us that lack core community support in other areas. Do you know that 1 in 5 US adults experience some form of mental illness? That means if you are back home for the Holidays and there are over five adults in the room, there's a reasonable chance that one of them may be silently struggling. And just like a family that can't or won't sign to the only deaf member of the family, imagine what it's like to not feel heard or seen or understood or validated.
If 1 in 25 US adults experience serious mental illness and 17% of youth (6-17 years) experience a mental health disorder, imagine what percentage of those people lack awareness of their struggle and the support they need to participate on an even playing field. I don't know those stats, but I'd imagine it's a lot.
Now I'm not suggesting that the entire world needs to bend itself to meet the needs of everyone with a disability. That would be a herculean task that would go nowhere fast. However, it's quite another thing for the people closest to each of these individuals to make an honest effort to meet them at least halfway. Support at the core community (family, classmates, and coworkers) would go a long way.
PS. I am in no way judging the family referenced in the video. Life is complicated and everyone has their own issues. While it would be great if they could better support this child, she is clearly turning out to be an amazing human being. I'm certain that she will find a tribe to support and be supported by regardless of if her family comes along.
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.