“Today in 1st grade one of my Deaf students farted loudly in class and other students turned to look at them. The following is a snippet of a 15-minute conversation that happened entirely in American Sign Language among the group of Deaf students and I.
Kid 1: Why are they looking at me?
Me: Because they heard you fart.
Kid 1: Whhhhat do you mean?!?!
Me: Hearing people can hear farts.
Kid 2: *Totally horrified* Wait, they can hear all farts?!?!
Me: Well, no. Not all farts, but some of them yes.
Kid 3: How do you know which farts they can hear, and which farts they can’t?
Me: Hmmm….you know how sometimes you can feel your butt move when you fart? A lot of those they can hear. But if your butt doesn’t move it’s more likely they didn’t hear it.
Kid 1: TELL THEM TO STOP LISTENING TO MY FARTS! THAT IS NOT NICE!
Me: Hearing kids can’t stop hearing farts, it just happens.
Kid 2: I just will stop farting then.
Me: Everyone farts, it is healthy. You can’t stop.
Kid 3: Wait. Everyone? Even my mom?
Kid 2: My dad?
Kid 1: …You?
Kids: *Laugh hysterically*
Kid 1: So you can hear and smell all the farts?
Me: Some of the farts, yes. Not all of them.
Kid 2: Can hearing people see farts?
Kid 3: Yeah. Green smoke comes out of their butt, I saw it on TV.
Me: That doesn’t happen in real life.
Kid 1: What?! Ugh. I don’t understand farts.
I went to college for 8 years to have these conversations.”
The following is a statement submitted to Love What Matters by Stacy Abrams of #WhyISign at the request of Anna Trupiano, the original author of this post…
“At first glance, the post was funny. However, when you stop and think about the bigger picture, it becomes a topic about deaf children having complete access to language and information. Even the little things like understanding our bodily functions. For hearing children, they naturally learn by having complete access to language and information that there are certain times and places to do things like passing gas. Without complete access to language, deaf children are often left in the dark about the simple things like the fact that farts make noises.
An often-overlooked aspect of raising and teaching deaf children is incidental learning. Incidental learning happens when children ‘overhear’ or deaf children, in that case, ‘oversee’ conversations, and explanations around them in a natural setting. For example, I as a deaf person, had hearing folks who signed 24/7 and made sure I understood everything that was happening in my environment. My parents made sure I was aware of what noises my body makes and what sounds were happening around me even though I cannot hear or speak.
My family believed I should be made aware of all the information that was being shared around me, including the incidental things. They were able to do that because they sought support from teachers at the deaf school, deaf friends, and other community members to learn about what it means to grow up Deaf. I am truly grateful of the fact my family realized they needed to accommodate my sister and I, rather than trying to get us to accommodate them. ‘Lucky’ was what Deaf people often told me when I told them my hearing folks can sign. I thought, ‘Why am I lucky?’ Being able to communicate with my folks should be the standard norm. Doesn’t every parent and family member want to communicate with their deaf child, sister, cousin?
Now I am a parent of two deaf children, and I make sure my children know what’s happening, what makes noises, and so on just so they have the opportunity to become more socially and self-aware of themselves, and things around them. Being called ‘Lucky’ always struck me as odd. I realized hearing families of deaf and hard of hearing children need access to other hearing families with deaf children, the deaf community (communities as deaf children can be members of several deaf communities), and the signing community to find resources and support. They need to know things they did not know about raising deaf children. This was the reason why I started the #whyisign campaign three years ago to support hearing families in finding resources, to share stories, and learn about deaf people & culture. Find more information on whyisign on Instagram and Facebook (WhyIsign).
Bottom line, no one should be left behind in having access to the world around them. And that includes knowing that farts do make noises! Deaf and hard of hearing children need access information and language through American Sign Language. I believe that is achievable because I lived it and am trying to do the same for my own children.”
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