Amazing racers!By INA R. HERNANDOJune 22, 2009, 9:52amHow does a mother support her handicapped son’s lifelong dream?
By running a race all over the world with him!
Margie Adams always believed that her hearing-impaired son could go on The Amazing Race (TAR), the world’s most popular reality show. It was just a matter of time – and it came during the recent TAR Season 14 where Margie and Luke finished third in the mad dash across nine countries and three continents.
“He is really a big fan of The Amazing Race since Season 1 and he always wanted to go on the show ever since he was a teenager,” the 50-year old mother tells Manila Bulletin in an exclusive interview.
Luke’s condition was not at all a factor and Marge knew very well what her son is capable of doing – and that is a lot!
“The only thing that we had to figure out was the communication when we were driving the car,” she shares.
For Luke, the original goal was make it to the Final Three. Margie would have been contented in not being the first team to get the boot.
Margie may seem fragile but she admits that she could be “controlling and competitive” at times. But these very qualities are probably some of the reasons why she was able to overcome the difficulties of having a child with a disability. After the race, Margie is now back to her old job as a clinical research associate.
Luke, on the other hand, just got a job in upstate New York where he will get to work with college students. His main goal in joining the race was to be a role-model for deaf people everywhere while proving that the “deaf can do just about anything and to never think otherwise.”
The Amazing Race season 14 was aired on Studio 23, which will also air the next season. On this exclusive feature on Students and Campuses Bulletin (SCB), the mother and son tandem from Denver, Colorado share their passion as advocates for deaf people, their experiences in coping with a disability, and how The Amazing Race has changed their lives forever.
LEARNING WITH HER CHILD
SCB: What exactly was the doctor’s diagnosis on Luke? What was the cause of his hearing impairment?
Margie: Luke was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss on his first birthday. He was born with a bilateral ear infection. He also had surgery to put tubes in his ears to help them drain. He did pretty well with the hearing aids and started attending a pre-school for hearing- impaired children but when he was 2 1/2 years old, he had meningitis and lost the little residual hearing he had, He was then diagnosed with profound/total hearing loss.
SCB: How did you feel when you heard about this?
Margie: I knew Luke could not hear from birth. He never looked around when there was a loud noise or looked for me when he heard my voice. Luke has an older sister and so I knew his reaction to sound was different from her reaction to sound as a baby. I went for almost a year telling Luke’s doctor that I thought he could not hear so when we finally had a diagnosis and could take some action I was actually relieved.
SCB: What difficulties did you go through as a mom?
Margie: The hardest thing was to hear other people make fun of him and call him stupid because of how he sounded. I really tried to educate people that just because Luke does not sound or communicate the same way hearing people do, he was stupid because he is not.
SCB: What’s the biggest adjustment that you had to go through?
Margie: Learning sign language and be more patient. When I communicate with sign I have to stop what ever I am doing to sign, I did not have to do that when communicating with my daughter.
SCB: How did you learn sign language?
Margie: I started Luke in a pre-school program when he was just a little older than I and I learned sign right along with him. I also took classes but I learned Signing Exact English (SEE) and later found out that the majority of deaf people communicate with American Sign Language (ASL) so I had to then learn ASL. I actually sign a mix of ASL and SEE with Luke.
SCB: Did Luke try hearing aids or other treatment options so he could hear?
Margie: Luke had hearing aids from one to five years old and then he got a Cochlear implant that allowed him to hear environmental sounds but not really speech. He went to speech therapy at least two days a week until he was 14.
SCB: Did you encounter difficulties in looking for a school for him? How was the set up like?
Margie: Luke’s father was in the army so we moved around a lot when Luke was growing up. Mainstream was always difficult. Luke did well academically but there were always so few deaf kids at his school that he sometimes felt isolated. He went to deaf school in Hawaii when he was eight and did 2 1/2 years there and did great. Then back to mainstream for two years and in 7th grade, he went to Colorado School For the Deaf and Blind and finished High School there.
SCB: What’s the best thing about having a deaf child that many people do not realize?
Margie: Having a deaf child exposed me to a whole new culture and gave me the opportunity to meet some fantastic deaf people that I would have probably not met.
SCB: What advice can you can give to parents who have kids with disabilities?
Margie: Talk to other parents with children that have similar disabilities, see what resources are out there, advocate for you child to get them the best help/education that is available. Allow your child to have language as early as possible, whether it is signing or oral communication, it is so important to communicate with your child.
SCB: What was the reaction of the other teams when they learned that Luke was deaf?
Margie: It was a mixed of reactions. Some teams were excited to have a deaf person on the race. Some teams initially thought that we would be a weak team and eliminated early because of Luke’s deafness. Some teams felt awkward to be around Luke because they were not sure how to communicate with him.”
GLAD TO BE DEAF
SCB: How hard was it growing up knowing that you were different?
Luke: It wasn’t really that hard. I actually like the idea of being different. I love being deaf. Sign language is just so such beautiful and I love every aspect of deaf culture. I’m glad that I’m deaf!
SCB: What were the problems that you encountered especially when you were in school?
Luke: The kids sometime would just bully me because I am just different from them. Just need to teach kids how to treat me like I am normal, not different from others.
SCB: What made you decide to go to college? What was your course and why did you choose to take it?
Luke: I wanted to get a college degree like everyone else. I studied in Criminal Justice, I want to fight for the rights for deaf people. You will be so surprised with how many limited rights there are for deaf people.
SCB: What was your very first ambition?
Luke: To be a honor roll student in school when I was a little kid and I did it!
SCB: What’s the hardest part of being deaf aside from not being to hear?
Luke: A lot of limited job opportunities which a lot of jobs required to be able to hear, so it’s a little hard to overcome that obstacle in job field.
SCB: Any advice to people, especially to kids, who have disabilities?
Luke: Don’t let anybody stop you just only because of your disability. Push yourself forward. Achieve your goals no matter what people say.
SCB: How do you think your participation in TAR changed the public’s perception on people with disabilities in general?
Luke: We hope that people understand deaf culture much better. There is a big misconception that almost every deaf person could talk and read lips really well. But, in our case, that isn’t true. There are actually a lot of deaf people who could not read lips or talk well, like Luke does.http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/207671/amazing-racers