My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir.

“There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are”
she said, “cause he made you perfect, babe
So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
listen to me when I say”

I’m beautiful in my way
’cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way.

Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way.

If you’re a Lady Gaga fan, you’ll recognize that the lyrics are from Born This Way. This is a song about acceptance of yourself, of others and not changing who you are. It’s a great message.

But, I challenge you to stop for a second and picture yourself getting the news that your newborn child may have a hearing loss or be completely deaf. The information you get, and how quickly you get it, could change the outcome for your child and family. There is an article in this week’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch that caused me to pause and think about this very thing. You can read the article here:

I think we can all agree that early detection in anything is ideal. The sooner you know something the sooner you can decide on a course of treatment. It’s the minute you say “treatment” where the divide begins.

There appears to be a rather large division on this issue. On one side are the people who believe that learning and teaching the child American Sign Language is the only viable course of action. They don’t believe there is anything wrong with being born deaf; there is nothing to fix. In the language of Lady Gaga, some babies are “born this way,” and that is true.

On the other side are people who believe that there are other options for children and families – both medically and educationally– and that those children and families have the right to the information they need to make that choice. With advances in technology, many babies who are born deaf or hard of hearing can learn to listen and talk. With proper amplification and training (especially when provided very early), they can join their normally hearing peers in schools, sports and other activities.  See 2-year old Eric sing the ABCs here:

What parents hope and dream for their children is a deeply personal expression of personal values and beliefs. Having the information needed to make choices that fit those beliefs is a right that we all share.

There is a private family foundation who’s mission is to provide money to schools and programs that teach children who are deaf or hard of hearing to listen and talk. I had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting this weekend with the advisers to this foundation. This is a thoughtful group of people whose mission isn’t to rid the world of American Sign Language, but to educate the parents of newly diagnosed newborns as to what their options are and to provide support to schools, teachers, doctors and others who work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing .

As with most controversial topics, the minute one side believes that their way is the only way and communication is cut off between the two sides, change becomes far more difficult.

And the only ones who truly suffer? The kids.