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Deaf Like Me

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Deaf Like Me is the moving account of parents coming to terms with their baby girl's profound deafness. The love, hope, and anxieties of all hearing parents of deaf children are expressed here with power and simplicity. In the epilogue, Lynn Spradley as a teenager reflects upon being deaf, her education, her struggle to communicate, and the discovery that she was the focus of her father's and uncle's book. At once moving and inspiring, Deaf Like Me is must reading for every parent, relative, and friend of deaf children everywhere.

285 pages, Paperback

First published March 12, 1978

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Thomas S. Spradley

1 book9 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 94 reviews
Profile Image for Katie Sorensen.
190 reviews
November 22, 2014
Read for my ASL 101 class.
I was so frustrated for the first 9/10ths of the book because all the parents were being told was "don't use gestures with your deaf child" and other ridiculous advice. And every 5 pages the author (dad) would say "We just knew that someday she'd talk." I wanted to shout at him, HELLO, she's DEAF! You're expecting her to function as if she was hearing, when she's NOT hearing!
But I guess my frustration was part of the point - that it's ridiculous to expect a deaf child to function like a hearing child. I hope this book helped to break some of the beliefs that if deaf people communicate in ASL then they're somehow "less." I was so happy at the end when they finally started teaching Lynn sign language and she gained a voice. I admire Lynn's parents for doing their research to figure out what was best for their daughter, and I'm glad that they choose to teach Lynn sign language and gave her a voice!
(The copy I read didn't have the epilogue by Lynn - I need to find more recently published copy to read that!)
Profile Image for Karen.
425 reviews12 followers
August 13, 2018
This is an inspiring account of hearing parents trying to do their best for their young daughter, Lynn, one of 20,000 babies born deaf due to the rubella epidemic of 1963-64. Wisdom of the time instructed parents to not let their child "act deaf" (lest she grow up to become a member of the "deaf ghetto") but instead to immerse her in lip-reading and speech. The predominant axiom was, "All deaf children can learn to lip-read and talk almost as well as their hearing peers if given an early start and a pure oral environment." A pure oral environment meant no sign language, ever.

The memoir traces Lynn's progress -- or, more accurately, her devolution -- from a bright child with a sunny disposition to, a few years later, a frustrated and emotionally/intellectually stalled preschooler. It's amazing to read how diligently the parents work with Lynn, believing that (as they're told) if they talk at her and fill her with enough words, someday the words will come pouring out in articulate speech.

About three-quarters of the way through the book, Lynn's parents start getting intimations that there may be another way. A few open-minded parents at the oralist deaf school that Lynn attends are pushing to incorporate some signing in the classroom. This is during the late 1960s when American Sign Language is reviving after 60 years of suppression.

The bulk of the book is amazing due to the parents' obvious love for and dedication to their daughter. The last bit of the book showcases Lynn's incredible blossoming as ASL unlocks her ability to finally communicate her needs, desires, and complex thoughts.
Profile Image for Sarah.
106 reviews
December 8, 2010
This book is non-fiction account of a family with a deaf daughter. Their daughter, Lynn, is born in the 1960's at a time when deafness was not widely understood. The culturally and socially acceptable method of dealing with this so-called disability was the oral method which involves teaching deaf children to speak through hours of careful instruction and practice of lip reading, controlling air flow, making sounds from the diaphragm, etc. Lynn's parents, Tom and Louise Spradley go through a heartwrenching struggle as they try to teach their daughter to communicate. The oral method proves to be unsuccessful for them and Lynn only learns five words in three years; meanwhile her behavior becomes worse as she gets older and experiences the frustration of not being able to communicate. The light at the end of the tunnel finally comes when the Spradley's discover ASL. This is an amazing story and although the beginning and middle get a bit repetitive, the end is well worth it! No questionable content or language here. Two thumbs way up.
Profile Image for Kate.
861 reviews13 followers
May 5, 2014
This book should be required reading for any hearing parents who have a profoundly deaf child. Even forty years later, there is a lot of misinformation out there about education for deaf children, sign language, and how to communicate with your deaf child. I found this story profoundly moving. Louise and Tom's struggles with their daughter, trying to teach her to talk, and in the process never being able to communicate with her broke my heart. The instant they started using sign language, the instant Lynn finally understood that she had a name, that she could communicate with her parents, I started crying and didn't stop until the end of the book. I'm so glad that Tom & Jim Spradley wrote this book so that others could learn from their experiences.

Think about this - remember back when you first tried to learn a foreign language. Now think about trying to do it if you could never hear the language being spoken. Now think about trying to do it if you could never hear your own voice. That's what learning English is like for a profoundly deaf child. Amazing.
Profile Image for Nicholas Beck.
Author 1 book36 followers
September 20, 2010
There were many things from this book that I really liked. Including the descriptions of the depths of difficulties that parents of deaf children have to endure to teach their child. Especially around the time this book is centered when a lot less was known about deaf people. The parents in the book were incredibly patient and persistence is finding a way to teach their daughter how to communicate. Even through all the unbelievably challenging times of frustration at not being able to get the message across to their daughter, and the daughter not being able to explain what she needed from the parents. There were a lot of things that I learned about the deaf community from this book and would consider reading it again.
Profile Image for James .
254 reviews3 followers
March 15, 2009
I immensely enjoyed this book. Having worked in deaf education , I believe this should be a required read for all teachers or others training to work with the deaf.
1,522 reviews47 followers
March 31, 2016
An almost absurdly straight-forward memoir of a family with a deaf daughter-- this is full of interesting insight and answers all those questions I never knew to ask-- never even thought there were questions to ask-- about being deaf, growing up deaf and needing to be educated in a reasonably modern school system. This is no Helen Keller story, but it's still pretty shocking. And Spradley and this story are in the middle of what feels like a huge turning point in deaf history, addressing directly the causes and results of the focus on "oral culture," the idea that deaf students could learn to speak even if they couldn't hear. Of course that's kind of crazy, when you think about it, but who would? And the idea is given a decent amount of play here, before we get to the reversal, three quarters of the book through, when sign language appears.

It's a lot like a conversion story, in terms of its structure and the way it tries to persuade us. And it's also so direct that it has an artless feel, even though its in the shape of a narrative. It does read well, but you never forget that the art of this is secondary to the main ideas it wants to communicate. And that means that there are weird moments here, like the emphasis on the animal nature of deaf people trying to use oral language-- this recurs often, and is especially poignant and awkward when it comes up at the end, in a scene in Vegas when a kid is trapped in this animal life because his parents won't let him sign. It's weird, I'll say that.

The title gets explained in the text of the book-- it's something the deaf daughter of the narrator says when she realizes other people are like her-- but for me at least, the shadow of "Black Like Me" hung over this book, in a not-pleasant way.
Profile Image for Natelle Woodworth.
170 reviews12 followers
August 4, 2015
Wow. A MUST READ!!! This book is absolutely breathtaking. I was so frustrated at times but the ending is magnificent. To read this story and hear the frustrations that Lynn's parents go through and struggle with is heartbreaking. I can't even imagine how hard it must of been for them back in the 60's to struggle with the controversy of Oralism vs Manual Language (ASL) I found myself wanting to jump through the book and shake them and snap my fingers and tell them to wake up that they need to teach Lynn sign language that way she can communicate with them. Society back then was still on the fence about ASL and boy did I get angry!

This book goes inside Thomas Spradley's mind and shows true emotions that parents struggle with when having a deaf child whom they can't communicate with. Their perseverance is amazing and the fact that they cared so much was refreshing, whereas alot of parents would give up!

I highly recommend this book to everyone because it shows a glimpse into the deaf community that most "hearing" people know nothing about.
Profile Image for Olivia.
279 reviews2 followers
August 5, 2010
This was a RS book club reading assignment. It was written by a father of a deaf child and tells of the struggles of his family as they learned to communicate with their deaf child. This book describes the communication debate between oralism and sign language. After reading this book, you will wonder why anybody would withhold sign language education from a deaf child. The sacrifice and love shown by this family for their deaf child is very touching and sweet.
Profile Image for Kassie.
400 reviews472 followers
March 12, 2015
this is a nonfiction book about Thomas Spradley and his family's struggles as they learn how to raise their Deaf child, Lynn. I found this story frustrating, heartwarming, and in the end beautiful. last 4th or so made me tear up a few times.
Profile Image for Hannah.
674 reviews31 followers
April 7, 2016
Though the majority of the books dwelt on the struggles and frustrations that the family of a deaf girl faced, rather than the identity of Lynn as Deaf, the message was powerful, and the ending, moving.
Profile Image for Simin Yadegar.
266 reviews46 followers
April 20, 2018
مشکلات بی حد والدین یک کودک ناشنوا و چگونگی مقابله با آنها برای برقراری ارتباط با فرزندشان ‌.
Profile Image for Natalie Guerrero.
88 reviews1 follower
July 16, 2010
Very good nonfiction book! The outline of how the professionals who are pure oralists not only give false hopes, but also deny a child communication skills is heartbreaking at best. I found it very interesting to read this family's experiences with the professionals they encountered. I have heard of a the pure oral method (I learned a lot about ASL and deaf culture in college), but had never read actual accounts of its implementation.

The negative propoganda regarding sign language is appalling. I really don't get how anyone could think that sign language could not lead to meaningful communication and a more successful/happy individual. I mean I sort of get it (the seemingly ignorant side of the argument--I just assume that they really don't understand the truth).

I'm not at all up to date on the current state of oralism vs sign language, but I certainly hope that society as a whole has progressed enough that both are able to be used in any deaf education setting.

Anway, I thought this author did a good job with telling his story. It was interesting and enlightening. Though, if I had any complaint it would be more details about when they begin using sign language. The book can be a bit frustrating since the majority of it consists of frustrating situations.
Profile Image for Jamie Brooks.
614 reviews10 followers
April 5, 2010
I had to read this as an assignment for my ASL 2 class. Usually I hate books that I am forced to read, but I enjoyed this one. It sent me on a emotional rollercoaster. Mainly because the parents spend 3/4 of the book being completely against sign language and forcing their very young daughter to attempt to learn how to lip read and speak when it is very difficult for people who are deaf from birth to do.

Even though that pissed me off, I understood that the parents werent at fault. They had never dealt with something like that before and they were just trying their best. The ending was a nice happy ending so I guess that made up for it haha. Very good book. I highly reccomend it to people who want a little peak into deaf culture and the struggles deaf people go through.
Profile Image for Aubrey Kramer.
19 reviews
March 28, 2010
I am still reading this, but it is an absolutely fascinating and heart-wrenching narrative of a parent's struggles with their deaf child. The ASL vs. English debate is still alive and well today, unfortunately, with many deaf children being forced into oralism and denied the right to learn sign language. Whose fault is it? Certainly not the well-meaning parents who want to give their child the world, but as seen through the narrator's eyes: professionals who supposedly know the best way to teach deaf children. We watch as Lynn's parents try one thing after another that was recommended by these "professionals" and their continued hearbreak as each method fails them.
Profile Image for Littlevision.
78 reviews2 followers
April 15, 2011
Deaf Life Me is an interesting novel about the deaf experience in the late sixties. Mr. Spradley describes his family's experience as they adjust to daughter Lynn's deafness, his introduction to the deaf community, and the failure of the oral-only approach they tried with their daughter. He talks of hopes and dreams for their daughter to communicate purely orally and without manual sign language, but in the end realises the mistake he has made. This is a very touching story, some typos but nothing detracts from the story. I like the short chapter approach and the epilogue by daughter Lynn Spradley. An enjoyable read!
Profile Image for Fenixbird SandS.
565 reviews52 followers
August 9, 2009
Looking for a manual on what NOT to do as a parent? This books comes pretty close to suggesting we NOT wait (when we have doubts on developmental milestones); NOT fear learning what COULD be THE tool for success for our own child/ren....Had I already read this? Tells the story of one family from right after their child's birth and their dread & anticipation of "Houston we have a problem," repurcussions of mother's measles exposure during pregnancy. They were uncertain whether or not it had been measles......Acceptance can be a hard thing to achieve..
Profile Image for Jacqui.
71 reviews15 followers
December 25, 2009
I couldn't finish this book, it was so intolerable.. which is why I won't give it a rating.. but I will say why I thought it was terrible.. the parents in this book do EVERYTHING wrong in trying to help their deaf child and it gets BEYOND frustrating.. but even more than that.. this book isn't so much of a "story" as much as a timeline.. "first we went to this doctor... they said ____... then we went to this person.. they said ____" and it got to be TOO much.. get on with it already and tell me what you started to do RIGHT!! I think I made it halfway through and really just had enough.
Profile Image for Netta.
728 reviews14 followers
January 27, 2016
This book made me see the trials of raising a deaf child in the '60s. Not much technology to work with, research still being processed, ect. Makes me glad that I live in a word where I have access to the right technology and healthcare. I love how much Bruce grows because he has a deaf sister. When Lynn was a baby, it seemed like she was getting all the attention and he was left out. But he doesn't see that. He works with her as much as his parents. I love it! Beautifully written book! I highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Marie.
43 reviews
February 2, 2008
This book was a great insight into deafness, its history, and it's effects on a family. It is the story of only one girl, by her father. But it could be the story of many. I thought it had heart, and made me even more excited about learning sign, and teaching others about the culture. It helps you not to assume that all deaf people can read lips, or sign, or read and write. It shows the unique challenges of educating a deaf child.
Profile Image for Iamshadow.
148 reviews24 followers
August 15, 2008
Though this was a fairly good book, I have to admit I was disappointed. It mainly talked about the Spradleys frustrations with the Oral method, and virtually nothing about them starting to learn to communicate with Lynn in Sign. I kept waiting for the Sign, and it wasn't until the last chapter or two that they got to it, and even then it was vague and felt 'skimmed over'. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I was expecting.
Profile Image for Sarah.
318 reviews12 followers
January 22, 2012
I read this book for my American Sign Language class, and was pleased to find I enjoyed reading at least the last 100 pages.

The front half of the book gets bogged down in everyday occurrences, frustration, repetitive exercises, etc. But this structure does highlight the relief of discovered communication and heartbreaking/agonizing decision-making regarding Lynn's hearing loss, versus the struggle of repetition and futility that her parents experience in the beginning of her life.
Profile Image for Emily Bailey.
79 reviews3 followers
February 28, 2012
I'm pretty sure I read an earlier edition of Deaf Like Me, it seemed very familiar and I recognized the title. Deaf Like Me tells the story of a couple who find out that their second child, a daughter, is deaf. Narrated by the father, he voices the struggles they went through until finally finding the right method of deaf communication for them. I've always been interested in ASL (American Sign Language) and this story is good inspiration for me. I hope to find a way to learn more ASL!
Profile Image for Janet.
81 reviews1 follower
May 9, 2012
I really loved this book! Couldn't put it down, and read it in like 2 days. It was really really interesting to learn about how this famiy felt when they suspected their daughter was deaf, and their journey. It was really sad to watch as their daughter became more and more frustrated when she couldn't even communicate with her parents, and she and her parents were working SO hard so she could learn to speak. Very very cool book, I highly recommend it!!!!
Profile Image for Mary.
32 reviews9 followers
January 29, 2011
This is a very inspiring story about a child who has a hearing disability. It was a requirement for my ASL class in college, but I ended up really enjoying the read. It is an ideal example of how parents must advocate for their children, special needs or not. This is a must read for parents of hearing disabled children or anyone who works with them.
1 review1 follower
July 13, 2010
Incredible story of a family's journey to communicate with their deaf daughter. Although the answer now seems so obvious, the book vividly details what conditons were like for deaf families in the 1960's and how children were pushed towards an oral only environment, and discouraged from signing and "gestures".
Profile Image for Jeroen Kraan.
92 reviews17 followers
January 4, 2011
Deaf Like Me is an inspiring story about having a child with a hearing disability. The first two thirds of the book are devoted to having to teach spoken language, in the form of lip reading and vocal training, to deaf children. Personally I was frustrated at the fact that this part of the book is so long and repetitive, and I felt relieved when sign language was finally introduced to the book
Profile Image for Mallory.
233 reviews
November 9, 2011
This was a book about, what else, a Deaf Girl. She was born in the 60's, at the time the people that her parents met were all very anti-sign language. So they put her in oral classes, whiched ended up meaning they had no communication with her until they finally began to teach her sign language at age 5. It was interesting to read about being a parent and family member of a deaf child.
Profile Image for Robyn.
18 reviews
May 18, 2012
I got a look at how the deaf children were educated and how they were treated in the 1960's. I found it interesting and frustrating at the same time because I know that the way she was being taught at first to use no signs or gestures is not how it is viewed now by most people. I did enjoy the story and even laughed out loud at some parts.
Profile Image for Sarah.
2 reviews
February 7, 2013
Personally I found this book very eye opening to hearing parents struggle with raising a deaf child. This book made you understand their fears and desires of raising their daughter normally, but only when they embraced her deafness and decided to learn and teach her sign language that really helped her become her version of normal.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 94 reviews

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