Friday, 12 May 2017

Growing up CODA...

Monica Leach who is deaf with sons Oliver Leach, 10, (left) and Jack Leach, 8. The boys' first language is New Zealand ...Jack and Oliver Leach switch between two languages, one uses gestures, the other, voice. Their parents Monica and Stephen Leach are both deaf. "It's awesome because we can be really loud," Oliver said.  Oliver 10, and Jack 8, Leach are growing up CODA (Children of Deaf Adults).

The brothers who can hear, had grown up as CODA - or Children of Deaf Adults. The 10-year-old said New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) was a " handy skill" to learn.  He said NZSL was special because you don't have to speak at all. You could sign through windows or use it if you're choking, he said. For NZSL week Oliver had taught a NZSL class at lunchtime at Titirangi Primary School.  He said it made him "happy" because other people could share what it was like having deaf parents. People just needed to learn basics like the alphabet and greetings, he said.

This year Oliver said he had a CODA teacher who he used signing with. "It's pretty nice because I can relate to her and her experiences." Oliver's mother, Monica Leach, said NZSL was used at home and was the kids' first language, while their second language was English.

The Titirangi resident was born deaf. She said one of the best parts of CODA parenting was she enjoyed NZSL and supporting her sons' reading and writing with it. Their teachers are impressed by their spelling and ability to see things in a visual way, she said. Watching captions on TV helped with spelling and reading, the mum said.

The 38-year-old said she sometimes needed her sons to explain their conversations to her. And if her boys had to do a presentation for homework she could be "stuck" to help, she said. Leach said the children of deaf parents might be louder at school because at home there was no-one to monitor how loud they were.

"If they're turning up the volume I wouldn't know." She said there was not much support for CODA and their parents. Leach is fundraising for herself and children to go to a CODA camp in the United States, an idea she said she would "love" to bring to New Zealand.

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