Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gladys, A Deaf Child Who Changed My Life

I posted this information long ago, but it's relevant to my recent posts about my own experience with Special Needs, so I'll share it here again with a few changes.
While in the Babcock Unit at the Stanford Convalescent Home I met a very cute little girl with big blue eyes and curly hair. Her name was Gladys, but I never heard her last name. The other new kids who had been there longer would grab my arm and pull me away when I approached the child, shouting, "Don't talk to her! She's Deaf!"
But Gladys and I communicated using facial expressions and gestures. Once she woke everyone up early by turning on all the lights. The nurses said, "She doesn't know any better," but Gladys let me know she did know she might get in trouble and I assured her I wouldn't tell anyone. Another time she asked me why she had no fingers on one hand and I told her I had no idea. (Back then the Oral Method was used in schools for deaf children and Sign Language was discouraged.)
The nurses told me her parents had brought her to the facility when she was six months old and they found out she was deaf and were never heard from again. How could anyone reject such a darling child?
I only knew Gladys for one week, but she changed my life completely. Because of her I volunteered with special needs kids while I was in High School, learned American Sign Language, went to work at California School for the Deaf, married a Sign Language interpreter, and raised three deaf foster sons.
I wish I could find out what happened to that little girl.

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