A Prophetic Start For Diane
The following is an article published in the Phoenix Gazette in 1973 about my start in oral-deaf education. Even though that's eons ago, I thought I'd post it as an example of why my son's early start in oral-deaf education is so important to us.
UP: PROPHETIC START FOR DIANE
When Diane Bolles was 23 months old, she spoke for the first time. Unlike many infants, her first utterance wasn't "mama" or "daddy."
"Up" was her first word.
Diane differed from other infants in another respect - she was profoundly deaf, the highest measurable degree of deafness.
Now that Diane is three years old, she fills the Bolles house with constant chatter.
On the day of her mother's interview, Diane was busy requesting jelly beans, coloring "yellow corn" and "happy faces" and cutting and pasting together a paper airplane. Words easily flowed from her mouth- clearly audible, animated, and plentiful.
"I want two candies." "Where's my green candy?" "Mom could you look for the paper?" "I want juice."
If Diane was having difficulty speaking, she certainly fooled this reporter. As listener, interpreter, and guide, Mrs. Bolles plays an essential role in her daughter's progress. The compassion and human understanding that guided her during a nine-year career as a registered nurse now is focused on Diane. Mrs. Bolles' lips carefully mold each syllable, tone, or expression so that each utterance is a visual and audible learning experience for Diane.
But, Mrs. Bolles did not do it entirely on her own. Since the age of 20 months, Diane has been enrolled in the preschool for deaf children at Gompers Rehabilitation Center.
Mrs. Bolles is a strong advocate of early education for deaf children.
"I don't know of any deaf child who could have started kindergarten without a preschool education."
It's of prime importance to the Bolles that Diane be able to fit into a hearing and speaking society. So significant that Diane's education has revolved around oral communication - communication through lip reading and verbalization.
"If a child has the ability to become an oral deaf adult, he should be given every opportunity to do so." "Deaf children can learn to talk," proclaims the bumper sticker on the Bolles' automobile and Diane Bolles is living proof.
With the aid of two powerful hearing aids, Diane can hear sounds - sounds which she must learn to distinguish.
"They have to be taught to listen so that they have auditory discrimination."
Diane has become such an adept listener that she needs neither touch nor eye contact to attract her attention.
That Diane will become an oral adult is the goal of the Bolles. When she has completed her training at Gompers preschool, she will attend special education classes at a public school.
Mrs. Bolles would prefer even earlier exposure to the hearing and speaking world. "I'd like to see integration at the preschool level. I think it's important that deaf children be integrated into their hearing peers before first grade."
To facilitate Diane's adaptation to her hearing peers, the Bolles' have enrolled her in a Sunday school class. Not only is she the only deaf child in the class; she is the only girl.
Although Diane has few nonhandicapped friends, she is far from isolated from the outside world. The patience and understanding of her 10-year old brother and eight-year old sister has contributed to her educational and social progress.
"I feel I'm lucky I have older children - someone that the child can take a model from."
Mrs. Bolles is careful not to overprotect her daughter by making remarks to her other children such as "Don't touch Diane." She also refrains from bemoaning the expense of her daughter's hearing aids.
"You have to ignore the handicap."
Reprinted with permission from AZ Republic/Phx. Gazette