The reason Kayla’s not deaf is because it’s not genetic.
Born to deaf parents, Kayla started learning sign language before she could walk.
When others ask her if it was hard, she says that it wasn’t. She didn’t know anything else.
But the challenges shouldn’t be dismissed; deaf grammar is a lot different to spoken grammar; it’s not structured the same, a deaf person will leave words out through convenience or because it’s superfluous when they are communicating through their hands.
When Kayla went to school and did get accustomed to being around people who used spoken languages it made things more challenging, Kayla wanting to use words to communicate, whereas her Mother instead relies on reading physical gestures and sign language.
Which makes hiding something from your parents a lot more difficult. For example, Kayla could say to her parents, “I’m really happy”. But they’d read her body language and facial expressions, and reply “No, you’re not”.
Most teenage girls and their mothers through a difficult patch, and that’s when they can both speak; so what was it like to go through that with a deaf mother? “Mum always knew when I was back chatting. She would be like, “Kayla, I can hear you” but you know, she couldn’t really. And I would have those moments when I would be like, is she pretending to be deaf? Just to trick me my whole life.”
There are benefits to being versed in sign from a young age. Sign language gave Kayla and her sister a code to communicate between the two of them in social situations, like parties or through classroom windows. Then there’s the CODA network, Children Of Deaf Adults, that gives them an outlet to share their feelings and frustrations with other young people going through the same situations.
Even though she’s been living around them her whole life, Kayla feels it’s difficult to truly understand a deaf person’s life the way a deaf person does. How to make things better for them, how to make things easier for them. But she’ll continue do everything she can to ensure that life isn’t difficult for her parents, and at the very least meet them in the middle.
We hear you Kayla.
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