Dr Allen Sussman is a well-known Deaf American who specialises in mental health and deafness. He is a university professor, he has worked in mental health centres and has written books. I met him when I was his student in America. I was studying to be a Deaf therapist. I agree with what he believes makes a healthy well-adjusted Deaf person. This includes a Deaf person accepting their deafness and an ability to communicate in sign language, speech, or both, and also to have relationships with both hearing and deaf people. I learned a lot from Dr Sussman and consider him a role model.
Relationships are something many people find fulfilling. This includes people with disabilities. Over a week holiday there were a few times when I felt my relationship was being judged because of my disability. People we didn't know made unnecessary and rude comments. This impacted on our holiday. When these things happen I don't know what to do. I think the community could be shown that it can be hurtful. People should understand that these relationships are no different to any others.
A woman staring directly at the camera and using sign language.
Should our children act as interpreters?
In the past many hearing children had to interpret for their Deaf parents. They interpreted at bank, school and doctor appointments. As adults, they now say that interpreting often made them feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. They felt like they were acting as carers for their parents. Today there is less need for children to interpret as we now have better accessible services. But some Deaf people still ask their hearing children to interpret for them. I think Deaf people should leave their children alone and let them translate as little as possible.
Craig and Andrew sitting in a cafe. Craig is leaning in with his arm around Andrew.
Craig (left) and Andrew (right)
Andrew and Craig are best friends. They are both Deaf. They first met in primary school when Andrew was a new student. Craig showed him around the school. They played cricket together and became good friends. Andrew's first language was Australian Sign Language. Craig and his family used speech and lip reading to communicate. Craig learned a little sign language from Andrew's family. Andrew learned how to better lip read with Craig's family. The boys stayed friends throughout high school and university. Today they live in different states but are still the best of friends.
An aerial view of the city of Damascus in Syria. A mosque is the key focus in the picture.
Syria is a very old country.
Syria is a country in the Middle East. The main language spoken by its people is Arabic. Syria has a population similar to that of Australia. Yet it is only about the size of Victoria. For the past 16 months there has been a major conflict in Syria. This violence has had an effect on the Australian-Syrian community. They worry about the safety of their family there. Some people send money to their family in Syria to help them. Others worry they won't be able to visit the country for some time. The people of Syria are suffering.
I have spent many months in hospital at various times. This can be very difficult if you feel no one understands you. One day by surprise I met a hospital visitor named Joan Beverley Gillespie. She had many health issues after getting polio as a child. She would visit me every week with a laugh and a joke. I became very close with her. She inspired me to stay strong and to keep my humour. Joan died on 14 July after a short illness. I want to use this opportunity to farewell my beloved friend.
There are many ways that parents can raise their children. Some parents like to be strict with their children. Others are very involved in their children's lives. Other parents treat their children as friends. Some just use their gut feelings. I spoke with a few Deaf parents. They have different opinions about parenting. They are raising their children in different ways. But there is no right or wrong way. Parenting can be a hard job. Most parents just do the best they can for their children.
Having a new partner can be exciting. But if you have a disability you should be honest about what you can and can't do. When I started a relationship I tried to do too much. We went to Sydney for a holiday and I didn't take my scooter. My partner wanted to go out in the evening. I was exhausted and didn't want to disappoint him. But he told me not to worry. It is important to try and be independent even when you are in a relationship. A good relationship is when two people love and support one another.
I have many friends. They are special to me. Sometimes I get annoyed by people's comments about my friendships. Some people think my friends are not my friends and are only there to help me. I once rang my local council to ask for help in the home. I was surprised when I was told to ask my friends to help me instead. I am an independent person and I don't want my friends to be my carers. Sometimes having a disability complicates friendships. I used to think I didn't offer my friends very much. But now I understand I do.
I am in hospital and it's my 21st birthday. An inexperienced, young doctor cuts open my leg without giving me any painkillers. But I act brave. After dinner I lie in bed. My 21st birthday will be a night of loneliness. But then my friends come with beer and wine. And then more and more friends arrive. They sit around my bed and we get drunk. It's a great party. The next day I feel terrible from drinking too much alcohol. The matron comes in and inspects my room. She finds an empty bottle of wine. She quietly asks for it to be moved.