Then came the diagnosis - moderate to severe hearing loss. I went to the renowned John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles for two years. After being in a self contained classroom for “hard-of-hearing” children in elementary school, my parents debated whether I could be mainstreamed for middle school. They had me tested by a psychologist who recommended mainstreaming (and responsible for my becoming a psychologist!). Hence, I was mainstreamed for both middle and high school.
I attended the University of California where I graduated with a BA as a double major in Psychology and Theatre Arts. After three years working in the schools as a classroom aide for deaf students, I returned back to graduate school to pursue my doctorate in clinical psychology. During this time, I was honored to be named Deaf Woman of the Year by the Quota Club of the South Bay (Santa Cruz/Salinas/ Monterey).
I started a mental health counseling program at Santa Clara County Mental Health for deaf and hard of hearing clients and continued to work there for 6 years. Soon thereafter, I did my post-doctorate at Langley Porter at the University of California, Center on Deafness, in San Francisco, Ca. I have been licensed as a clinical psychologist since 1988 and as an Marriage, Family Therapist since 1985.
The most frequent question I am asked is “What was the hardest part of growing up as a hard of hearing child?” The hardest part wasn’t the years of speech therapy or the tutoring that was necessary to keep up with my hearing peers but the feelings of loneliness and isolation as a mainstreamed child and the knowledge that I was socially behind my peers. It wasn’t until college when I caught up with my peers and then I faced a different kind of barrier – the discrimination by teachers who criticized my English skills. By then, I learned assertiveness skills to educate both teachers and peers in helping them understand that my skills and talents were not determined by my grammatical skills, or lack thereof.
Currently, I work half-time at California State University at Northridge as a staff psychologist specializing in working with deaf and hard of hearing students and I also have a half-time private practice.
To this day, I find that I am constantly educating others about hearing loss. I feel so fortunate in that I love my work and feel honored to be a part of another person's growth process. I believe that we all have differences and, as such, while the path may be unique, the journey towards wholeness and happiness is the same for all of us.
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