DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a 28-year-old son who is deaf. He is a contributing member of his community and a wonderful father to his beautiful 3-year-old hearing son.
There is life after children -- even deaf ones, I'm happy to report. As a parent, I have arrived at this "normal" state with the help and wisdom of many who have been here before me -- professionals, parents of other deaf and hard-of-hearing children, and deaf and hard-of-hearing adults.
Many parents with young children recently discovered to be deaf or hard of hearing don't realize that they are in the mainstream. They feel isolated. I talk to some of them daily on the LEAD LINE of the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles.
Because so many parents, their friends and relatives get so much useful information from your column, Abby, I hope you will share two sources of information and support available to them: The first is the LEAD LINE, whose telephone numbers are 1-800-287-4763 in California and 1-800-352-8888 for the rest of the United States, or http://www.hei.org. As a parent with broad advisory support, I respond to LEAD LINE callers with up-to-date, unbiased information about whatever their concerns may be -- potty training to college programs.
The second is a recently published book for parents titled "The Silent Garden," new and completely revised, by Paul Ogden, Ph.D., a teacher trainer who also happens to be deaf since birth. Years ago, his first book was very important to me. This new book, published by Gallaudet University Press, provides parents with sensitive understanding of the issues and decisions before them, the choices available, and the personal recollections and insights of some of the 350 families and 500 deaf and hard-of-hearing adults who participated in interviews and discussions with him through the years. -- BARBARA LINCOLN, COORDINATOR, HOUSE EAR INSTITUTE LEAD LINE, LOS ANGELES
DEAR BARBARA: Thank you for sharing a valuable information resource. When a child is diagnosed with a severe hearing disability, not only do the parents need guidance, they also need reassurance that they can prepare their child for a rich and productive life. Between your helpline and Dr. Ogden's wealth of experience, parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children should find an excellent resource to benefit their families.