SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 24

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. ‘The relation of the deaf child to his family has not been entirely investigated. It is generally understood that many parents do not learn of their child’s deafness until the child is two or three years of age. Patterns of reaction ranging from rejection to over solicitous behavior have been observed. The role of the parent in the life of the deaf child, the effect of parental rejection or overprotection, the relation of the deaf child to the other members of the family (i.e. sibling relationship) . . . indeed the total family environment of the child during the first six years of life have not been adequately investigated. ‘The social isolation of the deaf child may be interested in the play group experience. While few studies are available in this area it is obvious that lack of verbal communication must be a retarding factor operating to limit interpersonal experience in peer-group relationships. Brunschwig (1936) found, for example, that deaf children had a smaller number of playmates at any one time than hearing children and they engaged more frequently in solitary activities. ‘The typical deaf child next enters the school for the deaf. In 1955 there were 23,033 children being taught in educational institutions for the deaf in the United States (Annals, January 1956). Of these, 66.3 per cent were full-time residential children and 33.7 per cent were day-school or day-class children. With respect to social isolation some preliminary studies have indicated that the institutional experience may further remove the child from contact with the hearing world as compared to the day school, from which the child returns daily to the normal environment of home and community associations. Some data tend to support the hypothesis that the residential school experience retards social development (Streng & Kirk, 1938; Burchard & Myklebust, 1942; Avery, 1948). Burchard and Myklebust found that the longer the period of residence in a residential school the lower the social maturity quotients on standard tests (p. 241-50). There is not sufficient evidence to warrant any conclusions concerning the effect of attending a school for the deaf; if there are negative aspects, there are also positive aspects, which should also be investigated. ‘The curricular programs in schools for the deaf vary and progress for each student is individualized to a considerable extent. The burden of teaching basic communication, speechreading, reading and writing, takes precedence over course work as such. The omission of sign language is significant. (Neither Dr. Lunde nor the writer knows of any school where instruction in sign language itself is part of language itself is part of the curriculum.) The deaf child, already retarded in communication ability, now is further limited in academic development. Thus the system of education as well as the institutionalization itself plays a role in comparative retardation, the deaf child being trained academically at a pace much slower than the hearing child. This further widens the gap between the hearing and the deaf, taken as groups. ‘The education of the deaf is further restricted by the fact that there are only twelve accredited high schools for the deaf in the United States (Annals, January 1956). The majority of the deaf do not obtain a high-school education or its equivalent. This places them as a group on the lower levels of educational achievement, another factor in group segregation and which affects their chances for higher education and better employment opportunities. ‘It is at the school for the deaf that most deaf children meet other children like themselves for the first time and enter into peer-group associations without the restrictions the special handicap imposed in their relation with hearing groups. They begin to develop feelings of identity with the deaf group and to acquire the group attitudes which tend to set them apart. Preliminary studies at Gallaudet College reveal that the deaf institutional adults recalls his first days at the school for the deaf in three categories:--first, his misery at begin taken away from home and family, second, his SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 24