‘I love my country, but my country doesn’t love my son,’ says Cork father of deaf child
The Cork Father of a completely deaf child called on the country to cherish all children equally and treat them as equal citizens.
Speaking on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ, Andrew Geary, who works as a Garda sergeant, vowed he would continue to campaign for his son to be “a full citizen of this state.”
Mr Geary said that while there had been “reasonable access” to education for his 12-year-old son Callum over the past eight years, he was years behind his twin Donnacha despite great family efforts.
“You need to have a French diploma to teach Leaving Cert French, anyone can enter a deaf child’s classroom at Leaving Cert and sign with sign language ability in elementary school,” Mr. . Geary.
“If we give him the bridge to his tongue, he could accomplish absolutely anything and that’s my belief. With the right support, with an interpreter (we had him for two years), we can see which stop this bus will stop at based on its potential.
Mr Geary said that if there are deaf successes, deaf people were 10 times less likely to get to the third level, four times less likely to have a job, three times more likely to experience some form of abuse in their lifetime and that 80% of deaf people leave school with the average reading ability of an eight or nine year old.
“I know we’re going to beat some of those numbers, but it’s just that you have to have your shoulders behind the wheel every minute of every day. We all know that we have two jobs (parents of children with special needs), which is to try to bring our beautiful democracy to the borders of Europe to recognize our children as true full citizens and I don’t think so. will not rest until my son is accepted. as a full citizen of that state.
“I give my day, every day as an ambassador for our democracy and that is my life goal.
“This is what we ask our country – to cherish them all equally – they are beautiful people who wrote (the Proclamation) brilliantly long ago and we are still chasing those dreams.
Mr Geary explained that his twins were born in 2008, but it was three years later before they found out Callum was completely deaf, he did not have an auditory nerve, which ruled out a cochlear implant as a choice. .
There was no newborn screening in place in 2008, he said. Ireland was one of the last countries in Europe to introduce this procedure.
He and his wife Helen have traveled the world in search of treatment, but none could be found. The whole family learned sign language (they have two sons older than the twins) and were welcomed by the deaf community.
“I had no experience of deafness, I don’t know what it’s like to live in this bubble, the deaf live on a total island of our island, until you come to this island, you have no idea what kind of life.
“It’s the same with any parent of a child with special needs or different needs, you step into this world and you have to open the door and take one small step at a time until you understand the journey you are making. ”
Mr. Geary said all parents want the best for their children.
“I have a mantra in life, I don’t let anyone define me, and I don’t define anyone else, they define themselves and if they want to tell me what their cultural community linguistic beliefs are, it’s it’s up to me to accept it. . ”
A few weeks ago, he and his wife were upset when Callum told them he would never have a job because he was deaf.
“It hurts. I’ve been working hard on this for a long, long time, it just tells me a lot of my effort was wasted, it tells me I have to do a lot more work no matter what you’ve done. in the past – there is still a lot to do.
Mr Geary said he felt a failure because of the pain in the deaf community.
“They live in a bubble, not wanted, my son is so wanted inside the front door of my house, but when he comes out of this front door – this country, which I love with my heart , of my soul, of my being, does not want my son and I ask myself every day – when I wake up it’s my first thought in the morning – what are you going to do today, sleep at night – what did you do today?
“There’s an island of 5,000 people over there and they have nothing, maybe we gave them a deed, we gave them UN status, but they’re still begging.”
Mr. Geary said he felt he had accomplished nothing.
“I’m a sergeant at An Garda Síochána, I couldn’t ask for a better, more rewarding and demanding role. I love my work.
“I have had the privilege of doing our work overseas, this country is just loved, because we communicate, we listen, this country’s community workers, advocates, charities, volunteers, this country is built on their backbone, we are nothing without these people, they just give their heart, their soul, their absolute being without anguish and that’s what I love about this country.
“I love my country, but my country does not love my son. Our story is simple, we have twins, both boys are brilliant, we know that because we almost had to prove Calum’s intelligence. Donnacha can read, he reads The Lord of the Rings, he really enjoys it, Callum reads Roald Dahl, but he wants more.
Mr Geary said schools needed access to sign language interpreters who could bring the language to life.
In fact, the teachers did speak “pidgin” sign language, as every teacher could not be expected to go to Trinity College for four years to become an interpreter.
“Callum had brilliant teachers at St Columba who gave their heart and soul, but Callum needs more, he needs a bridge to his potential because there is a fire in his eyes – I just need to set it on fire. It hurts him, he sees the books his brothers can pick up, he’s just as brilliant and he works very hard, my wife works very hard, we sit and read together. He’s really hard on himself.