Looking back on my earnest but often misguided attempts to drag my deaf child willy-nilly into the hearing world, I can only say it was thanks to her good mind, her determination, and her good heart that we both came through so amazingly well.
Cybele was born in the sixties. We discovered she was deaf only when she turned fifteen months old. A clever little girl, she would turn her head as she climbed up the stairs knowing I would call to tell her not to. Before that, I had mentioned her high- pitched voice to our elderly pediatrician, saying, “Is that normal?” he frowned at me and said, “What is normal?” Cybele was fitted with heavy body aids, which she wore in a bodice, tipping forward like a little teapot. They enabled her to regulate her voice but did not make words intelligible. She was profoundly deaf.
Still, I was advised to “Talk to her, don’t stop talking to her. Don’t use your hands. Don’t give her the ice cream until she says the word, ice cream.” I followed the rule religiously, putting the little girl into her high chair for her lesson every morning where she would scream and beat her hands on the tray, while I showed her pictures of a baby and said, “Baby, baby, baby, ” or gave her a wooden puzzle with lambs which went “Bah! Bah! Bah!” which she put in her mouth and tried to swallow. Next there were the plastic cups which went “Up, up, up,” which she would knock down onto the floor, where they went “ Down, down, down.”