Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mr. Holland's Opus

In my quest to soak up all things deaf, to gain a greater understanding of deaf culture, etc. I decided to re-watch Mr. Holland's Opus. This was the first time I'd seen the movie from "this side." It was sad, it was tough to watch, it was different this time around - I could relate. The famous scene that everyone talks about - where they're at the parade and the fire truck goes by - everyone covers their ears and cringes... but Cole, the baby, who sleeps right through - is the mother's "aha" moment. It's then that she knows he's deaf. They find out that he has a 90% hearing loss, and the audi tells them they shouldn't "gesture" with him, because he'll never learn to speak (HA!). When he's 4 or 5, and still can't sign OR speak, they send him to a deaf school, where he learns ASL and thrives. There's much more to the movie than that...

I thought it was tough for me, as a German and Spanish teacher, to have a deaf son (remember though, that he will learn Spanish some day!!!!). Imagine having music be your life, and not being able to share that with your son. The movie is set in the 60s, when there wasn't the option or even thought of a cochlear implant. Wow, how the face of deaf education has changed so much since then, to include so many more options! How grateful I am to be raising a child in this day and age!

I think I'm really glad that we left the hospital knowing that Lucas wasn't hearing quite right (even if we didn't know the severity of his hearing loss). I really can't imagine finding out now, at a parade, figuring it out on my own, and then wondering why I didn't know sooner.

Great film.


Mandie said...

I know how you feel. I have a degree in choral education and my husband sings as well, and both of our kids have degenerative hearing loss. I am SO grateful for the technological advances that will hopefully give our kids the opportunities to enjoy music like we do.

tammy said...

I had heard about this film, but never watched it. I am going to rent it this weekend. The love of music is huge in our family, not much talent there, but we do love our music. It was one of the hardest things for us ... will Aiden be able to enjoy music like the rest of us? But I'm sure as much as we all jam it in the house and car, I'm sure he will, thanks to today's technology!

mbishopp said...

first of all, you are an amazing, fully dedicated, educated and smart mother. what a lucky boy Lucas is to have you by his side.

a few posts earlier you mentioned you wanted suggestions of books to read. it sounds like you found the 'must-read' twilight series. :)

what my husband and the rest of my family did for christmas was read books of all type, long, short, poems and classics and had it recorded onto a cd. we just did it with our computer software. all 16 cousins are 10 and under, so the audience was easy to please. so when my 6-year-old listens to the stories during quiet time, he can hear my voice, his dad's voice, grandpas voice and so on. Alexander obviously over hears it too. sometimes i turn it on in the car or while i am washing dishes.

this may save your voice from only having to read "Each, Peach, Pear, Plum" once instead of 10 times in a day and you can create a language rich environment.

Melanie said...

I am (well, I was before I made the change to stay home) a Spanish teacher too! Small world. :) I haven't watched the movie in a long time.

mishkazena said...

Hi there! I am glad you feel comfortable with your kid using ASL. That's wonderful news!

What prompted you decide that using ASL is ok with your child and that it doesn't interfere with the development of speech and listening?

Lucas'Mommy said...


Thanks for your comment. We're not teaching Lucas purely ASL right now, but rather using ASL signs in English word order. We've chosen this route for a few reasons. 1. Lucas is still a baby, and it helps with general communication. It indicates to us that he's gaining receptive language, both through sign and voice. 2. We believe it will give him options - to use sign if he so chooses in the future. 3. We don't believe that it will interfere with speech and listening, and we're prepared to decrease use if it does.

mishkazena said...

Great. That's called Total Communication, using speech and signs in English order.

With heavy opposition against Deaf babies using signs, what made you decide it will not hurt his speaking and listening development? I find more and more parents opting to use this route along, combining voice and signs whereby in the past, more parents avoided signs like the plague, using oracy.