Mind blown, check

I just had an interesting group email exchange with members of my family. We were agreeing that the mother, who denied her daughter treatment for diabetes, is a despicable criminal. But when I asked “WTF is wrong with her?” I remembered another conversation I had, long ago, with an author of a book about the Texas Tower Sniper and he made a really interesting comment (one that more people should heed), he said that attempts to quantify the sniper’s “issues” were misguided. Maybe he did what he did because he was simply “mean.” That comment changed my schema regarding criminal behavior. Many people commit crimes or do unspeakable acts, like this mother, simply because they are mean (or any other adjective). They do it because they want to and don’t care.

Now I am not saying that there are criminogenic risk factors for certain types of crimes and behaviors but we may be wasting a lot of time trying to explain why when we should just deal with what. Call me names, disagree with me; I don’t care, just be respectful of my right to express an opinion.

We can discuss risk factors (theories of which have great validity) but I guess, first, you have to read my blog.

Fairly sure none of us gets out of it alive

Thanks to Katherine Waff Morris for the title of my post.

As I have said before, academia is not for the faint hearted. And, I suppose I am a faint hearted woman. What I am in for is research. I’ve recently had the pleasure of seeing one of my doctoral dissertation hypotheses supported by recent literature. Two articles, by Deaf researchers, have said-much more eloquently than I-that early language acquisition is crucial to early socialization. That was what I was looking for and what is propelling my present research; to learn if and how the acquisition of language impedes social development.

So, the academic crashed and burned but the researcher never did. That is why sometimes being trained in the scientific method resulting in a shiny Ph.D. is both a blessing and a curse; the blessing creates the thirst for knowledge and the training to try to obtain that knowledge and the curse is that it succeeds. I don’t want to be at the gateway to the afterlife and be like Oscar Schindler saying “If only….” See, curse.

Sometimes, we researchers, do not get empirical validation and, indeed, we were taught that as long as we follow the scientific method, it is fine. But the training makes us want to continue and, urrggghh, it’s a calling you can not ignore.

I do have another child

My daughter Melissa. She’s a brilliant young scientist and works at University of Rochester. She’s also really beautiful; it’s ok, I am her mother. She has her M.S. in some type of biology and did some work with human cadaver feet (don’t even ask, as I don’t even want to know). Thankfully she has no desire to go into academia, but into policy. As an undergrad, she minored in American Sign Language. She is the real deal and I am so proud of her.

What’s up? :-)

So, I am exploring funding options and working on the research proposal. I intend to do this research, because it is important and it fits into my criminal justice and deaf culture framework.

I still have to deal with people who, not intentionally stupid or mean, say things like “Oh, I am sorry. I didn’t know he’s deaf” “C a n h e r e a d l i p s” which cracks me up because they are talking to me, a hearing person, but talking very slowly. I’m like “Dude, I can hear you, just talk!”

It feels strange to be an unaffiliated researcher, by that I mean not academically affiliated, but the learning never stops. And yeah, I am being cagey about the whole research project because I want to get it approved by an IRB somewhere, either where I am going to classes or a school I was once affiliated with. Once I do get IRB, I will be more forthcoming.

So, why did I post? Just to let y’all know what I am up to and to let you know that having a Ph.D. doesn’t have to mean that you must be an academic, it means that you must want to continue learning.

Upcoming in 2019

I am going to start my research project about language acquisition. It’s about time, I say. This has grown out of my doctoral dissertation research where I hypothesized about a link between language and crime. My hypothesis, then, was not supported by the data-which was good data-but now seems to be something to re-examine. There has been more current research that addresses this hypothesized link and I am incorporating that.

Sometimes it is not the data or hypotheses that are deficient; it is the researcher who doesn’t know the right questions or can not formulate the right models. So, here I go again!

Old Year’s reflections and anticipating the New Year

To say that 2018 was a fairly crappy year is oversimplifying the reality.  It was crappy; my health was bad and I fairly screwed up my professional life, as it was, but it was also good.  Good because my academic research interests got a significant jump start by my decision to go back to school and my decision to no longer limit my feelings of self worth because I had realized I was a so/so academic.  I worked and studied for my Ph.D. in Criminal Justice and loved that work because it launched my continuing interest in research and methods.  I love to learn and teaching in academia was a real hurdle to my continued learning.  Yes, I did have some brilliant students and did publish but was hampered in my own learning because I was so consumed with helping others learn.  Maybe that’s a noble conceit, that I helped anyone to learn, but that is the only reward of teaching.  The administrative side, the service side, the dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s side and the continual pressure to “advance your scholarship” is really debilitating.  You simply don’t have the time or the mental resilience to do any of that AND continue working on projects which you find interesting.

Maybe it’s just as well that I am starting over, again, as a student.  Now my scholarship can advance without meeting any artificial deadlines to advance my “career.”  I appreciate these words from Austin Kleon; “First off, I’m trying to imagine Thoreau or Leonardo limiting their interests to “professional development (https://austinkleon.com/2018/05/20/learning-for-learnings-sake/).”   What a wonderful sentence!  There is so much I want to know and to do and won’t allow myself or anyone else to define me as a “failed” academic.  I am simply an evolving academic.

This is a short paper I wrote for a class. I intend to continue the work as an auto-ethnography, but as it is will give you an idea of what fuels me.

 

Reflections on “Audism: Exploring the Metaphysics of Oppression (Bauman, 2004)

 

RIGHTS FOR D/DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING·TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2018

Generally, students are asked to provide a scholarly reflection of an article or paper, but our professor, wisely, allowed us to proffer more personalized reflections. Writing about a personal experience is an “account of the self” in criminological research (Wakeman, 2014). Personalized reflection is therefore scholarly as well as personal as it is an account of the experiences of the self, from the self’s own perspective.

I am the hearing mother of a deaf son, born deaf with no other family members on either side being either deaf or hard of hearing. I suppose that my “privilege” is that I can hear and can speak but neither of these sensory advantages assisted me when it came to me to advocate for my son. I knew from birth that he was deaf, without any articulable reason how I knew, but I did. It took the first fourteen months of my baby’s life to convince his pediatrician that he might be deaf. So the doctor sent us to the local audiologist. We went into the booth and my baby was frightened. He wanted to stumble around exploring, but the audiologist insisted that I hold him still and direct him to remain in my lap. Since he couldn’t hear me, he couldn’t hear my murmurings of comfort. Since he had not been officially diagnosed or, as I now prefer the term “identified” as deaf, I lacked the language to be able to communicate with him. The audiologist could not get a definitive finding and suggested that we have our son undergo a BAER test, which required sedation. “The hearing test known as the brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) or brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) detects electrical activity in the cochlea and auditory pathways in the brain in much the same way that an antenna detects radio or TV signals or an EKG detects electrical activity of the heart (Strain, 2018).” This was the definitive test and at fourteen months old, my son became deaf.

My experiences of “Audism” came immediately after his identification (and still continue, but to a much lesser extent today). My husband and I didn’t know or have any experience with deafness, sign language or Deaf Culture; we were faced with a medical problem-we were advised to do what we had to do to get our boy to “hear.” That is audism at its purest, because as Bauman (2014) stated by quoting Tom Humphries (Humphries, 1975 ) as “The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.” Amid cries of “Cure him,” “Teach him how to speak”, the only useful advice was from a representative from our county’s Board of Health (which had to record all birth defects and disabilities) who said, “Why aren’t you taking him to Early Intervention?” She provided me with the necessary contact information and I enrolled him. We were provided with sign language instructors who taught us SEE 2, a rather pathetic attempt to manually code English, while my son was provided with deaf playmates, SEE 2 instruction as well as some rudimentary form of American Sign Language. SEE 2 is a system of manual communication that strives to be an exact representation of English vocabulary and grammar (Leutke-Stahlman, 1991). It is a terrible way to teach language skills because it makes absolutely no sense-it is like trying to communicate with abstract and terribly subjective symbols that mean nothing on their own. This is another example of Audism. The notion that English is a superior language was reinforced by the creation of SEE 2. The article further cites Harlan Lane who wrote “Deaf people have been physically and pedagogically coerced into adopting hearing norms, whether they wanted to or not (Lane, 1992)”

This all led to the inevitable, a cochlear implant. It was urged upon us, by the doctors, audiologists and (we didn’t know at the time) the manufacturer’s representative. That felt like true oppression for us, as parents but also for our son who was now a beautiful two-year-old boy. He hated it; he always pulled off the magnetic speech processor and cried when forced to wear it. It was awful for him and for me. I would let him “not wear it” when my husband wasn’t home and I began to learn more about American Sign Language and the larger deaf community and Deaf Culture. Against pleas, by my husband who thought I was abandoning my son to deafness, for three years I would bring both of my children to Gallaudet University so that they could both attend the summer program. We stayed in the Kellogg Center’s hotel (on campus) and my son got to experience Deaf Culture and see that there were other deaf people in the world. By the time he was seven years old, having gone to pre-school and elementary school in a public school program for deaf children, I told his teachers to “Teach him like you were trained to teach deaf kids, forget the cochlear implant-he hates it and will never learn how to speak. Teach him sign language and how to read and write-no SEE.” They listened to me and he began to finally begin to understand his place in the world through the lens of his deafness. He experienced (and I got to witness) a metaphysical understanding of who he was and learn that it was ok.

I can’t say that the years since have been easy for him, but he is now a young adult who is fluent in American Sign Language and going to college (with interpreters). He is studying Digital Imaging, as he is an avid gamer and wonderful artist and finally; a genuinely sweet, chivalrous and intelligent young man. His journey and mine have been through the three distinct dimensions of oppressiveness of Audism: Individual, Institutional and Metaphysical (Bauman, 2004). It is still a journey, but life is a journey for us all.

Bibliography

Bauman, H.-D. L. (2004). Audism: Exploring the Metaphysics of Oppression. Journal of Deaf Studies, 9(2), 239-246.

Humphries, T. (1975 ). Audism: The making of a word. Unpublished Essay.

Lane, H. (1992). Masks of Benevolence: Disabling the deaf community. New York: Alfred Knopf.

Leutke-Stahlman, B. (1991). Following he Rules: Consistency in Sign. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 1293-1298.

Strain, G. (2018, October 8). Louisiana State University/deafness. Retrieved from https://www.lsu.edu/deafness/baerexpl.htm

Wakeman, S. (. (2014). Fieldwork, Biography and Emotion. British Journal of Criminology 54, 705-721.