Deaf Like Me

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The summer when Louise and Tom Spradley

BISC 7A Paper #1
Summary of Deaf like Me
Louise and Thomas Spradley are a fairly average American couple. They are young, married, and have one child, Bruce, and they of course love him deeply. One summer, Bruce becomes ill with German measles, or rubella. Just a few days before this diagnosis, Louise discovered that she was pregnant. The doctor tells her that contracting rubella while pregnant could lead to various congenital defects in the newborn. The indefinite quality of this warning serves as the material for Louise and Thomas’s nightmares for the next nine months.  When Lynn Spradley is finally born, she appears to be a perfectly normal and healthy child. She has no physical deformities, nor any noticeable mental deficiencies. Louise and Thomas are hesitantly relieved. Thomas admits in the book to having still lingering fears for months to come. However Lynn continues to grow and develop in a perfectly healthy manner. Gradually, her parents stop living in fear. They relax; secure in the love of their newest child. Around the time Lynn reaches the age of six months, she and her family attend a Fourth of July celebration. As is typical of these events, there were fireworks. Characteristic of a child her age, Lynn fell asleep before the festivities started. When the fireworks started exploding, Thomas expected Lynn to wake. She did not. Nor did she start at all in reaction to the thunderous sounds. She slept soundly on. This was the first time Thomas and Louise suspected their daughter might be deaf.  After a barrage of tests and the passage of close to two years, it was determined that Lynn had a profound hearing loss. The next years were spent attempting to train Lynn’s residual hearing though use of a hearing aid. Another component to this approach was the efforts spent trying to get Lynn to talk. Louise and Thomas were led to believe that the only way Lynn could be a functioning part of society was if she was able to talk and lip read.  Years passed. Lynn’s residual hearing was next to useless in helping her to communicate. She was able to lip read many words, but not nearly enough. And she was able to articulate only a handful. She was completely isolated from everything and everyone because she had no way to communicate. This led to her constant frustration, which in turn forced her parents into dealing with her tantrums. The situation seemed next to hopeless.  Then Thomas met a group of deaf adults. These people were able to communicate with one another and with select hearing people. These adults were fluent in American Sign Language. Through ASL, deaf people were able to converse just as easily as hearing people. While the Spradleys had been led to believe since the diagnosis of Lynn’s hearing loss that learning to sign would isolate her; the opposite was true. When Louise and Thomas taught Lynn to sign and learned to sign themselves, a whole new world was opened up to her. Now she could clearly communicate what she wanted. No longer did she have to be frustrated by her own silence and the silence of those around her. By learning sign language, Lynn was given a way to tell the world what she wanted. American Sign Language gave Lynn a voice, and a life of her own. 

Biological Explanation of Lynn Spradley’s Deafness
Lynn Spradley was diagnosed at 18 months with a profound sensorineural hearing loss. While her parents suspected that she might be deaf or hearing impaired at an earlier age, no definite diagnosis could be reached before Lynn was old enough to respond effectively to tests. Testing is typically done at around age two. Lynn’s early test age was no doubt due to the persistence of her parents. They wanted to know the exact details of their daughter’s hearing loss so they could learn what to do about it.  Unfortunately, there is typically very little that can be done about a hearing loss as serious as Lynn’s. By definition, a profound loss means that the...
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