Earlier this week, I was working on a draft of a NDCS policy position paper on mental health that will give the official organisational view of what good mental health and emotional well-being means for deaf children and the services they should receive for prevention and resolving difficulties that arise. If you’ve got any views on what the policy might include, let me know and I’ll try and slip it in.
In describing what good mental health looks like, I stole a line from the NDCS Healthy Minds resource to state that deaf children should be comfortable with their deafness and never ‘apologise’ for their deafness. So, for example, if they’re out and about, miss what someone says, the words “sorry, I’m deaf” should never be uttered when asking the person to repeat.
And then around ten minutes later whilst in a meeting, I realised I didn’t have my left hearing aid on. Things got fiddly, holding things up and before I knew it, I had uttered the words, “sorry, I can’t hear you at the moment”, thereby breaking the very rule I had written down moments before. Doh.
It was a small thing but it stayed in mind because it reinforced in my head that not much attention has traditionally been given to the emotional well-being of deaf children. And helping deaf children become confident kids who have a range of strategies for dealing with the communication barriers that – sigh – having to deal with deaf unaware hearing people brings, and who never ever apologise for being deaf. Personally, I think it’s an important but overlooked issue, especially for deaf children who go to mainstream schools and rarely meet other deaf children. It’s good to see that the Healthy Minds resource is now being used to fill this gap.