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Inner Lives of Deaf Children

Interviews and Analysis

Martha A. Sheridan

Publication Year: 2001

While many researchers focus on the educational development of deaf children, precious little time has been devoted to studying the child’s social development and “self-concept.” Conducting interviews with seven deaf children between the ages of 7 and 10, author Martha Sheridan offers a fresh look at the private thoughts and feelings of deaf children in Inner Lives of Deaf Children: Interviews and Analysis. “What does it mean to be a child who is deaf or hard of hearing?” Sheridan asks in the beginning of her study. She turns to Danny, Angie, Joe, Alex, Lisa, Mary, and Pat for the answer. The author selected the children based on their unique cultural background and conversed with each child in his or her preferred method of communication. Her procedure remained consistent with each: in addition to standard questions, Sheridan asked each child to draw a picture based on their life and then tell a story about it; next, she showed them pictures clipped from a magazine and asked them to describe what they saw. The results proved to be as varied as they are engaging. Angie, an adopted, profoundly deaf, ten-year-old girl who communicates in Signed English, expressed a desire to attend a hearing college when she grows up, while also stating she hopes her own children will be deaf. Joe, an African-American, ten-year-old, hard-of-hearing boy, drew pictures of deaf people who are teased in public school, reflecting his own difficult experiences. Sheridan draws upon her tenure as a social worker as well as her own experience as a deaf child growing up in a hearing family in analyzing her study's results. “From listening to the voices of these children we learn that they do not always see themselves, their lifeworlds, and their experiences as researchers have traditionally described them,” she writes. “These children have strengths, they have positive experiences, and they enjoy positive relationships.” With evident devotion to her subjects, Sheridan renders Inner Lives of Deaf Children an enlightening read for parents and scholars alike.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-xii

In this book, we meet deaf children—in their own worlds, in their own words, in a way that emphasizes their unique personalities and experiences while demonstrating the experiences and ideas they share. In taking this very personal and humanized approach to exploring the lives...

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pp. xiii-xiv

What does it mean to be a child who is deaf or hard of hearing? What perceptions and experiences do deaf and hard of hearing children have? What do they have to say about themselves, their identities, their relationships, their futures, and their perceptions of their fit with...

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pp. xv-xvi

Many people have contributed in one way or another to the completion of this book. First and foremost, I am grateful to the children who so unselfishly shared their lives and their views. Their contributions will allow many to understand the multiple meanings of being deaf. I...

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1. Beginnings

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pp. 1-12

Like Dorothy in the classic children’s story The Wizard of Oz, our journey through life is full of surprises, and at each crossroad we are faced with experiences, mysteries, and challenges that help to determine what the future will hold. No crystal ball can foretell which...

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2. Transcending in Time

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pp. 13-36

I was at dinner one evening with a group of deaf friends, a mixture of young and middle-aged adults. One of the younger individuals who had grown up mainstreamed in hearing schools turned to an older person who had gone to her high school and asked about his experiences...

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3. Profiles and Procedures

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pp. 37-44

A young girl with long brown hair and wide blue eyes saw me sitting in the back of her classroom as she and a friend entered the room. “Who are you?” she asked. I was at her residential school to observe and identify students for my research. I introduced myself...

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4. Danny

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pp. 47-70

I arrived at the residential school where I was to conduct my first interview. As I drove slowly along the drive into the school parking lot, I thought how good it felt to have a day out of the office to get a breath of fresh air. I got out of the car, carrying my video equipment...

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5. Angie

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pp. 71-92

On a gorgeous autumn day, I drove out to meet Angie and her family at their home. Angie and her parents came out of their house as the interpreter and I pulled into the driveway. Angie was a bubbly, outgoing child whose red hair was pulled up in a ponytail. She walked...

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6. Joe

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pp. 93-118

When Marilyn and I arrived at Joe’s home, his mother answered the door and introduced us to a friend of hers who was visiting. She called upstairs for Joe, who she said was working on his computer. When Joe didn’t come downstairs, she went up to find him. A few...

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7. Alex

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pp. 119-136

Seven-year-old Alex arrived for our interview wearing blue jeans and sneakers. He sported a short-sleeved, white T-shirt, which highlighted his dark tan, black curly hair, and long-lashed dark brown eyes. Alex seemed enthusiastically absorbed in his school environment...

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8. Lisa

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pp. 137-167

Everything was all set for our first visit to Lisa’s home. I called her mother earlier in the day to confirm our appointment. I arrived at Lisa’s house with my camcorder, tripod, felt markers, colored pencils, and paper. Lisa had been expecting us but did not accompany her...

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9. Mary

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pp. 168-191

Mary, who is eight years old, attends a nonresidential program for deaf students that utilizes a total communication approach. She is mainstreamed with hearing children for some of her classes and studies in a self-contained class with other deaf students at other times...

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10. Pat

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pp. 192-206

Ten-year-old Pat attends a residential school. He was born profoundly deaf and the cause of his deafness is unknown. His brothers and parents are hearing. Although it doesn’t appear evident in Pat’s interview, his parents report he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder...

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11. So What You Are Saying Is . . .

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pp. 207-223

Pakuna Spady, a student at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School in Washington, D.C., shared her version of Aesop’s The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse for a class assignment. This story symbolically tells us that while the characters may both be mice and therefore...

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12. Into the Future: Implications for Research and Practice

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pp. 224-229

Perhaps one of the most meaningful elements of this research was that the children told us in their own spirited voices what was important to them. Here, they had the chance to share their stories and images of their lifeworlds. The children were the artists, the builders...


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pp. 230-235


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pp. 237-242

E-ISBN-13: 9781563682087
E-ISBN-10: 1563682087
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563682896
Print-ISBN-10: 1563682893

Page Count: 258
Illustrations: 5 figures
Publication Year: 2001