Elizabeth Edgar

@elizabeth-edgar | contributor
Elizabeth is a Deaf Mommy Life blogger over at Mommy Gone Tropical. Her blog is about her unique journey raising a hearing child as a Deaf mommy. She shares motherhood stories, DIY tutorials, their adventures, etc. as well. She loves coffee, coconut oil and her hair up in a bun!

American Sign Language Gift Ideas for Babies and Children

Do you still have some holiday shopping to do? If you have a deaf child, a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), or a hearing child with or without disabilities whom you want to teach how to sign, these gift ideas would be great. My CODA daughter, Coral would have loved these gifts when she was a kid, so that is why I hand picked these gift ideas to share with you! 1. ASL Alphabet Blocks. Build and learn at the same time. 2. Mommy and Me Tees (I Love You). Wear the same top as your little one for the holidays! 3. ASL Alphabet Garland. Decorative and educational way to learn to sign the alphabet together. 4. ILY Hand Shape Pillow. Adds love to any child’s room. 5. Melissa & Doug Sign Language Alphabet Peg Puzzle. Develop many skills such as fine motor skill, cognitive skill, and hand-eye coordination with this colorful toy. 6. Plan Toys Hand Sign Numbers 1 – 10. Learn to count 1-10 in ASL with this fun toy. Happy Holidays! We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Deafness: Pediatrician Told Me Not to Sign With My Daughter

My daughter, Coral, is learning two languages at the same time: English and American Sign Language (ASL). Lately, she preferred to communicate via ASL instead of using her voice to speak. When we were out and about, people would speak to her, and she would reply in ASL. I decided to meet with Coral’s pediatrician during her wellness check-up about her speech regression. Going in, I knew I would probably need to do research on my own because the pediatrician might not know the best way to help a child of deaf adults (CODA). I was concerned just like any typical mom and wanted to make sure my daughter wasn’t delayed in any way. While we were in the waiting room, I asked my interpreter for her opinion since she was around deaf people and CODAs all the time. She chuckled and said, “Nah, it is just a phase. She’s storing the spoken words in her brain and will start talking in no time.” The nurse came out to the waiting room and called Coral’s name. We went in the room, and the nurse did her regular wellness check. Then the pediatrician came in, and we talked through the interpreter about my concerns about her speech regression. I thought she was going to say it wasn’t a big deal, but we could get Coral evaluated to see. Boy, was I wrong. She took a couple of minutes to gather her thoughts and then said Coral needed to sign less and talk more. My fiancé, Mr. Tropical, and I don’t speak by choice, and we rely on ASL to communicate, so I told the pediatrician it was impractical for us to sign less with Coral. The pediatrician nodded and replied, “She needs to be around hearing people more. Speaking English is crucial and signing will interfere with that.” Can you imagine a doctor advising you to stop communicating with your child in your own native language? I was silent and didn’t know what to say. Did she realize she was talking about me? About my fiancé? About my friends? About a lot of people in the deaf community? Spoken languages shouldn’t be considered superior to signed languages. All of us have our own ways of communicating, whether it’s a spoken language or a signed language. At that moment, I realized the pediatrician was more stressed out about Coral’s future, while I was only concerned about her speech regression. I wasn’t worried about Coral’s future just because she had deaf parents. In fact, I thought having deaf parents gave her an advantage in life and nothing less. But the pediatrician made me feel like I wasn’t doing a good job with Coral. For the first time in her entire life, I felt inferior. Unfortunately, I didn’t defend myself during the visit. I was silent the entire time. Why? At the time, I felt it was pointless for me to argue when she was already set in her own beliefs. I would have wasted my breath because her closed-minded opinions weren’t going to change the way I raise my daughter. I simply requested a referral to get Coral evaluated for speech therapy. After the visit, I notified the interpreter it was time to find a new pediatrician. I shouldn’t feel like I’m a bad mom for not knowing how to speak and being unable to hear. I shouldn’t feel like I’m impacting Coral’s life negatively. She’s thriving in all the other skills and is even above average in some. She already has a language in place. She knows how to communicate. In the end, the interpreter was right, the speech regression was just a phase. What’s a part of your condition you live with every day that others might not see? Explain what that experience feels like. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines. Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Deaf Mom's Response to the Claim Her Hearing Child Is an Interpreter

Sometimes, people will say, “Hey, you have a built-in interpreter,” when they find out I have a hearing child. I laugh and joke about it. I created an interpreter, and she is going to interpret for free! On a serious note, that is not my plan for her. She is not a built-in interpreter. She is not going to speak or interpret for me. Often, people expect deaf parents’ hearing children to interpret, even in extremely inappropriate situations. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because it is convenient. Maybe because they are lazy and want to take the simple way out. Maybe because they assume it is the reasonable thing to do. Of course, it may seem harmless to you… however, imagine the expectation you put on the hearing child. Imagine asking a hearing child to interpret a legal issue conversation. That is a tremendous responsibility on a child to make sure he/she is interpreting accurately. Statistics show about 90 percent of deaf parents have hearing children. How many of those hearing children become built-in interpreters for their deaf parents? How many of those children harness resentment for having no choice but to interpret adult conversations. This creates a role-reversal responsibility — the hearing child taking care of his/her parents instead. A “typical” child with hearing parents would not be required to do that. That child is left to just be a regular child. Why can’t that be the same for hearing children with deaf parents? So, if a person attempts to use my daughter as an interpreter, I will ignore his/her request. I will tell that person to write it down or hire a certified ASL interpreter. Also, a hearing child may get tired of interpreting and decide to make up stories just for funsies. So, relying on a child to interpret is not always reliable. I will not use my daughter to order food for me. I will not use my daughter to say something to a person when I am in a hurry. I will not have her relay what my doctor says. I will not have her interpret the parent-teacher conference. I will not have her to interpret a savings account conversation with the banker. She shouldn’t responsible for taking care of her deaf parents. She shouldn’t have to grow up quickly. She shouldn’t be involved in adult conversations. She shouldn’t be put in uncomfortable situations. I don’t want her to resent me in the future for not giving her a say in this. Her only job as a child is enjoying her childhood without adult responsibilities… just like all other children. Lead photo via Thinkstock.

Deaf Mother on Raising a Hearing Child

For a hearing person, the question of whether they’ll raise a hearing or deaf child may not even cross their mind. Yet, for me, I wondered about raising a deaf child growing up. Having a deaf family to call my own. Elizabeth’s daughter, Coral. I knew I would more likely have a hearing child due to my family genes. I was born hearing. If I wanted a deaf child, I would have to be with a deaf guy with a multi-generational deaf family. Mr. Tropical, my daughter Coral’s dad, is deaf and has a deaf family, however, his extended family is all hearing. With our families’ histories, our odds of having a deaf child is probably 50 percent. When I was pregnant with our daughter, it didn’t matter if she was born hearing or deaf. I wanted a screaming healthy baby. I knew she could hear. Mr. Tropical knew, too. We assured each other that we would be thrilled either way. She turned her head toward any type of noise. She jumped and wailed when an object crashed onto the floor. They whisked her away to do a hearing test, and Mr. Tropical went with her. He came back to my recovery room and signed a form that she had passed the hearing test. Her hearing was perfect. The nurse was ecstatic. The term “passed” stood out to me. It felt like she had won a prize and we should celebrate. For deaf children, they “failed” the hearing test, so should we be miserable? You might think by now they would have said something different, such as simply state their hearing levels or say, “Your baby is hearing” or “Your baby is deaf.” Back to the point. The fact that we now had a hearing child was scary. I was nervous about what the future held for us. When we finally felt adventurous enough to go out in public with a tiny newborn, we were worried about the fact that she would be wailing and feeling hot. She was born in June in hot and humid Florida. We went to Target to buy postpartum care items for me and to do some food shopping. An elderly woman approached us to peek at our tiny newborn. She chatted about something. We pointed to our ears and shook our heads. She recognized we were deaf then she pointed to our newborn and moved her lips to say, “Can the baby hear?” I nodded my head and the relief came across her face. It was very apparent. She was delighted and clapped her hands. We didn’t know what to do except to smile. After that experience, I had mixed emotions. Of course, I’m happy my child is hearing. She is a healthy child with no disabilities or issues. She may never experience the challenges I went through. She will likely be able to attend any kind of school and be able to get any kind of job. She’ll be able to go on living her life without the barriers I faced. She won’t face the same oppression, discrimination and audism. I knew I would be able to teach my deaf child how to face those challenges, how to survive the struggles, how to break down the barriers and how to stand up for himself or herself. I knew I would be able to handle the big responsibility of protecting my deaf child and provide resources to give him or her the best future possible. I wouldn’t be scrambling all over the place, learning to sign, learning about the deaf community and learning to love and accept my deaf child because I was already there. I was ready and armed with resources, the deaf community/culture and love and acceptance. I realized it didn’t matter if I had a hearing or deaf child. Her childhood will be exactly the same. Her lifestyle. Our home. How we raise her. All the same. Coral is bilingual in American Sign Language and English. She is involved with both hearing and deaf worlds. She is an observant child, relying on her eyes along with her ears to communicate and learn. Since she was born, she enjoyed looking at me when I sign. She is a part of the vibrant and diverse deaf community that many people don’t get to experience while being a part of the hearing world without any language barriers. It has been a blast watching Coral talk to her toys, dance to the music, search the sky for an airplane flying over, mimic the dogs’ barking and copy my voice. I’m already learning new things from her. I learned what would wake Coral up from a deep sleep. I learned she will alert me of the oven or the microwave beeping. I learned that some doors creak while others don’t. I learned she will ignore me when I call her name but come running when I open a bag of pretzel sticks. I learned she can hear the “Let It Go” song from the TV outside because she will run inside and start dancing. I consider myself the lucky one to raise such a child. Follow this journey on Mommy Gone Tropical. The Mighty is asking the following: Are you a mother with a disability or disease? What would you tell a new mother in your position? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

How I’m Stopping the Cycle of Feeling Isolated as a Deaf Person

When I was younger, I made a promise to myself, and I am so glad I am sticking to that promise. I promised myself that when I have my own family, I will no longer accept Deaf isolation by hearing people. As a child, I had a lot of hearing friends. We had sleepovers, hung out at school and played many different games. It was easy to communicate through gestures since most of our times were spent playing. As we got older, it became harder for me to feel included because not all of them could sign. Teenagers like to sit around and gossip, and I was often lost. I was told, “It’s nothing.” “You would not understand.” “It’s not important.” “I will tell you later.” “I don’t want to repeat as it’s a long story.” I often received a summarized watered-down answer when I ask what they were talking about. Over time, I gave up on asking and went to another room. It was better to be alone instead of being lonely in a hearing crowd. Our friendships started to fade away. By the time I entered high school, I had more Deaf friends and maybe two hearing friends. I received the same treatment from teachers, coaches, bosses, co-workers and people I looked up to. They were supposed to care about me, yet they made me feel inferior. It’s not great when you feel like you are not as important as others. I was actually starting to believe I was inferior. It was not their fault but my own. I did not want to be a hassle. I did not want them to think I was trying to steal the attention. I did not stand up for myself. I did not educate them. I swallowed the hurt and tried to move on. As I became older, I became tired of feeling like this. I was tired of being forgotten. I was tired of being denied information. I realized I deserve better. I realized I was not alone in this. Nearly all the Deaf people I meet experienced the same problem. I asked them, “What did you do?” They gave me mixed answers. Some avoided the hearing people, and some stood up for themselves and educated their hearing peers. I made a promise right there that someday when I have my own family, I would teach them that Deaf isolation is unacceptable. Deaf people work hard to fit in a hearing-centric world when it should be our world, too. I am going to stop the cycle with my own family. Now, I have a 2-year-old hearing daughter. I want her to view spoken languages and signed languages as equal. Hearing people and Deaf people both deserve the same rights. As her mother, I deserve to know the conversations my daughter is participating in when I am in the same room. I do not want other people to tell my daughter things they are not supposed to. I do not want there to be secrets. I do not want her to learn it is acceptable for other people to disrespect me. I do not want her growing up thinking it is fine for her to do the same to her own mother. I do not want her to follow societal norms and give other Deaf people the same treatment. So, how am I going to do that? How am I going to stop the cycle? I want all of the people who know sign language to converse with my daughter in both English and ASL. So simple, yet people act like it is too much work. I do not demand non-signers (people who do not know how to sign) to know sign language. However, it would be nice if they learn some basic signs. I mean if they are going to be a part of our lives, at least, help us out. People who do not know sign language often do not realize that in all of our conversations, we are working hard to understand everything. Sometimes we misunderstand things. If you are friends with someone who knows a different language, it is always polite to learn some basic words in their language. Since we communicate in ASL for the majority of time at home, I do not want that to end when we are out in the public or have guests over. That will teach my daughter that ASL is supposed to be left at home and only with her parents, like it is not important. When my daughter starts to have friends over, that will be a different thing. I do not expect the same treatment from children; it is mainly the adults. Children often have their own secret language anyways, hearing or Deaf. I never want to have the feeling that my immediate family is leaving me out. I don’t want to feel inferior to my daughter because I am Deaf. If you dismiss a Deaf person’s request to sign at the same time you talk to their children, you’re teaching their children that their parents don’t need to be respected. You are teaching their children that hearing people are superior and they are better than their own parents. Actions speak louder than words. I am her mother, so I deserve that respect. I deserve to be a part of the equation. I deserve to be involved. I deserve to feel important. I deserve to teach my daughter that Deaf people can be treated the same way as hearing people. If more parents do this small change with their children, it can help to reduce the isolation of Deaf children/adults dramatically and help join both worlds together. The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

My Daughter Doesn't Know She Has Deaf Parents

My daughter Coral doesn’t know she has deaf parents. Coral is only 2 years old. She knows she has parents just like everybody else, but she has no idea how we differ from many parents. Having deaf parents is normal for her. She is hearing, but we converse in American Sign Language, always have closed captioning on the TV, use flashing lights or stomp our feet on the floor to get attention, write on papers to communicate with non-signers, etc. We started signing to her right away when she was born. It was strange for us to sign to her as she would not look at us. She seldom paid attention to us. Imagine my surprise when at hardly 6 months old, she signed her first word, “no.” She waved her index finger at people, our dogs or objects and said “no!” From there, her sign language and spoken language flourished. She learned both at the same time. She notices if closed captioning is not on the television and could not care less if the TV volume is off. Coral loved to do facial expressions from early on. When she signs or says words, they often come with facial expressions. She also makes a lot of noises when she signs. Elizabeth’s daughter, Coral. She will point to any noises and tell me what they are. *points to the sky* “Airplane!” *points to the busy street* “Cars, vroom!” If she looks in the direction of the noise, I will ask her what was that noise and she will answer me. She loves music. Every time her favorite show’s theme song comes on, she grabs me, drags me over to the TV and we start dancing to the song. She knows to tap on my leg or shoulder to get my attention. She started doing that when she was a baby. Before she could walk, she crawled up to me and tapped on my leg. She knows to maintain eye contact while communicating with other people. However, she is a typical 2-year-old nowadays, so she sometimes ignores people on purpose. Coral believes all people know how to sign. Boy, how I wish that could be true. At first, other kids would try to communicate with Coral, but they soon realized she wouldn’t answer back. They managed to interact through gestures while playing instead. It is remarkable how accepting young children are. When she gets older, she will realize her parents cannot hear and talk with their voices. I hope when that day comes, she will be proud of her deaf parents and of her bilingual and bicultural life. A version of this post first appeared on Mommy Gone Tropical. The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us one thing your loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. What would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.