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  • How Do Deaf Parents Hear Their Baby Cry? This Couple With Hearing Children Tells Us

    The couple mostly communicates with their children, who can hear, using sign language.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
How Do Deaf Parents Hear Their Baby Cry? This Couple With Hearing Children Tells Us
PHOTO BY courtesy of Mark and Dianne Salazar
  • Mark and Dianne Salazar are parents to Maisie, 12, and Marc, 10. Anyone who sees them will not suspect anything out of the ordinary. However, once they communicate with each other, something extraordinary is revealed.

    Mark and Dianne are deaf, and they mostly communicate with their children, who can hear, using sign language. 

    “My parents did not know whether I was born deaf or hearing.  They said that when I was 9 months old, I had a very high fever, so they rushed me to the hospital where I was injected with antibiotics. They said I was ‘overdosed’ with antibiotics,” reveals Dianne, 34, through an email interview with SmartParenting.com.ph.

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    Cause of hearing loss 

    It wasn’t until Dianne turned 3, however, that her parents began noticing that something wasn’t right. “I did not respond when they called my name, so they decided to bring me to a doctor, and that was how they found out that I was deaf,” she recalls.

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    Mark was also sickly and was often brought to the hospital for high fever. “We had almost the same situation,” says Dianne, adding that Mark’s mother also gave birth to him at a much later age.

    Mark and Dianne met as students back in college and got married in 2007. Understandably, they were both wary that their children may become deaf, too, but their parents’ experience taught them to be more cautious.

    “I was careful to use medication, especially those that are given in high doses until now. I also made sure to take care of myself during my pregnancy. I prayed very hard to have hearing children and that they won’t inherit the genes that bring about hearing impairment,” she says. 

    According to American Hearing Research Foundation, the underlying causes of deafness or hearing loss may “range from genetics to infections, to the side-effects of certain medicines, to aging,” including exposure to noise.

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    Parenting with hearing loss 

    Dianne gave birth to two hearing children, but it did not mean the challenges were over. It helped that her parents and in-laws were a consistent presence in their lives, guiding them through the ropes of the physical demands of parenthood.

    “My parents and parents-in-law were of great help. They woke me up when they heard my babies crying.  Most of the time, however, the kids slept between my husband and me, so we could feel if they move,” shares Dianne.

    As the kids grew up, Mark and Dianne navigated their way through different challenges as parents who are deaf. “I’m aware that I cannot not read stories to my children in bed at night, unlike hearing mothers.”

    When they find themselves in situations where they need to communicate with doctors when the children were sick, or the kids need help with homework, the couple does not hesitate to ask help from family members, friends, or neighbors.

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    Although she is deaf, Dianne is not mute, and she says she can sing simple tunes to her kids and can speak basic words like “mama,” “papa,” “milk.”

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    Differently-abled parents

    By the time her kids turned one, Dianne and Mark began teaching the children how to use sign language for practical words like “milk” and, in time, added more words. “I started to use fingerspelling when my children learned the alphabet. We communicated through fingerspelling and talked through basic sign language and some ‘homemade’ gestures.”

    The couple makes sure to express themselves, too, when their kids needed scolding. “When my husband and I scold our children, we express it through sign language, gestures, and facial expressions. Likewise, our love is expressed in the same manner,” says Dianne.

    It gives Mark and Dianne joy that their kids are flourishing not only because they are growing up to be responsible kids but because they are being recognized for belonging to a family with members who are deaf. Her daughter, she shares, guested in the long-running sitcom Pepito Manaloto as Clarissa’s deaf friend. The entire Salazar family was also tapped during the holidays in 2019 by a popular brand of fabric conditioner for advertising.

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    These days, it’s their kids who interpret for Mark and Dianne when a situation requires it. “They help us translate when there are words that are too deep and difficult for us to understand.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Mark and Dianne Salazar
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    Disabled but not really 

    Her advice for parents who are deaf is to show their children how much they are loved and treasured. She emphasizes the need to teach the children “sign language as their mother tongue and encourage open communication despite barriers.”

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    For the rest who are curious about their situation, she assures them that their family lives the same way other families around the world do. “Parents who are deaf should be treated the same way hearing people are treated. Our only disability is deafness, but our hearts and minds work the same way as theirs.”

    Dianne herself serves as an inspiration to her kids and her family, continually proving that being deaf is not a hindrance to one’s dreams, whether building a family or putting up a business. She was already a working mom when she decided to take up Bread and Pastry Production in a night school where she graduated not only at the top of her class but of her batch. Today, she has a small cake business that not only fulfills her but augments their family’s income as well. Read her story here.

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