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#GathreGood with Christy Keane

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Christy Keane (@christykeanecan) and I am a Navy veteran and NICU nurse turned full-time stay at home mom and motherhood blogger. I am a military wife living in Virginia Beach with my husband and three children. My greatest joy is sharing my love for my family and our unique journey through purposeful content creation.
 

You have a deaf daughter, Charly, who has certainly impacted more people than she will ever know! Tell us about her story and how that has changed your life. 

Charly, our second daughter, was born on 8/2/17. When she failed her first three hearing test, we were told it was most likely fluid in her ears from the delivery. My husband and I have no history of hearing loss in our families so we had no real reason to believe any other explanation for the failed screens. When Charly was one month old, I sat alone in a dark testing room fully expecting the audiologist to confirm the fluid in her ears, except what she told me was something wildly different. “Your daughter has profound sensorineural hearing loss.” I think I instinctively knew the answer to the question that I asked next but I needed to hear it for myself. “Does that mean she is deaf??” I asked the audiologist. She said yes and handed me a tissue because at that point I already had tears streaming down my face. I was not only sad for her but also sad for me. I had never met a deaf person in my life before Charly and I had no idea what a life would look like for her. She had never heard me say “I love you”. I wasn’t prepared and I had no answers. 

My husband and I allowed ourselves to grieve over our “expectations” but it was not long before we understood that we had absolutely nothing to be sad about when it came to raising a Deaf child. After her diagnosis, we were able to meet other deaf individuals and learn about ASL & cochlear implants. We decided we wanted Charly to have all options and opted for cochlear implants with total communication which is the use of speech AND ASL.

Charly was fitted for hearing aids at 2 months old and implanted at 10 months old. Since then she has made strides in her communication with both speech and ASL.

Today, she is just like any other spunky 2.5 year old! She loves music, loves to sing, and is a little goofball!

 

We want to hear more about your journey to becoming an advocate for parents of deaf children. Was that something you pursued or something that happened naturally?

To be honest, I did not set out to be in such a public position for hearing loss awareness, but God had other plans. When Charly was fitted for her hearing aids for the first time, we captured her reaction and she in turn captured the hearts of people all over the world. The viral video of her hearing for the first time has been viewed 100s of MILLIONS of times worldwide. Talk about making an unexpected journey even more unexpected. This video catapulted our family and our decisions in to the public eye, and it has not always been an easy path. We have been both judged and celebrated for our choices, both supported and shunned for how we choose to raise OUR child with hearing loss. 

 

You refer to yourself online as an inspirer versus an influencer, tell us more about what that means to you. 

It's funny because I actually have no problem or issue with the world “influencer” but I have found it to be such a trigger for people when I explain what it is that I do. People hear the word “influencer” and they immediately think of skinny tea potions and advertisements, but to me, an influencer is someone is has the power to shape the world by their story. For example, through my family’s story and journey,  we are able to influence the way people view children with hearing loss, hearing technology, & ASL. We are making the world more aware of children like Charly & it is something that I am really proud of. I do hope that it inspires kindness and acceptance but I find I use the word “inspirer” more for other people’s’ comfort level.
 

How do you hope to change the landscape of raising deaf children? What conversations do you think we should be having? What support do you think is lacking?

When I found out Charly was deaf, I had no idea how many options there were for which path we would take moving forward. Hearing technology/cochlear implants vs none. ASL vs. Speech. Deaf immersion vs. hearing culture. It requires a lot of research & careful consideration and at the end of the day is a VERY personal decision. No parent should have to justify why they have made decisions that they know in their heart is right for THEIR family. Here is the thing, no matter what you choose for your child, if you are giving them love and language, you are doing a GREAT JOB and that is the message I hope to convey through all of my platforms.

 

With National ASL day approaching, how do you celebrate the day with your family? Any suggestions for those of us that want to show our support?

First of all, thank you for even recognizing the day and taking the time to raise awareness for the things that make our children and families all so different and special. National ASL Day is not only important for sharing about such a beautiful language, but also raise awareness for how rich Deaf culture is. With Coronavirus, we wont be able to celebrate in person with our amazing community but we look forward to seeing how others share on social media this year. A suggestion to show support would be learning the “I love you” sign or learning how to fingerspell your name and sharing on social media with the hashtag #nationalASLday.

 

We have a big community of mothers, we’d love to hear how we can do better to teach our children about ASL. Where do we start?

One amazing thing about ASL is that if you know the alphabet, you can pretty much communicate anything to a Deaf person through fingerspelling. Learning the ABC’s in ASL is something all of my kids and family have had a lot of fun with.

Two kid-friendly resources I love to recommend for learning ASL is Signing Time (which can be purchased through iTunes) and Little Baby Bum Sign Language nursery rhyme videos on YouTube.

 

Raising a deaf child is a family affair. How has this experience impacted your other children and your marriage?

Having a deaf child with cochlear implants has opened many opportunities for us to talk as a family about kindness & acceptance of others’ differences, but we make sure to point out that we ALL have things that make us unique & special. I hope fostering these discussions and mindsets early will help all of my children grow in to kind and accepting individuals. We have an appreciation for that.

For our marriage, this experience has definitely taught us a lot about teamwork. Culture starts at home so its importance for us to make sure all of our children feel proud about who they are.

 

Your positivity radiates through all of your posts online. How do maintain that optimistic spirit? Basically how do we become more like you?! :) 

You’re so kind! I am not going to lie and say that we haven’t had any bad days. Her diagnosis was definitely hard for us and we felt really overwhelmed and unprepared; however, the more we learned about our options, deaf culture, and how capable deaf people are, the more we felt the weight lifted. I think that is why it feels so important for me to not only share our journey, but to share how beautiful and amazing it is because I know there are other families in the beginning of their own journeys looking to us for hope & guidance. I hope that I can help these families feel a bit more prepared and a bit more positive in their outlook while helping them find a community of parents who understand.

 

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in the last few years raising Charly?

I touched on this earlier but I think a big lesson is understanding that ALL of our children have things about them that need our careful love & attention. Their confidence and culture begins at home and my eyes have definitely been opened to each child’s very different emotional and physical needs.

 

We love hearing people talk about their dreams. What are some of the big and simple dreams you have for yourself and your daughter?

Oh goodness, I love that and I am definitely a dreamer. For myself, I hope my opportunities to share our journey and build a community continues to grow at a larger scare. I am actually working on 4 books as we speak and I hope they can help foster literacy and hearing loss awareness in a fun way!

For Charly and all my children, I just always hope they are healthy, happy, and safe. I hope they follow their dreams and always know how proud I am of them.

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