Alandra's Lilacs: The Story of a Mother and Her Deaf Daughter

Overview

When, in 1968, 19-year-old Tressa Bowers took her baby daughter to an expert on deaf children, he pronounced that Alandra was “stone deaf,” she most likely would never be able to talk, and she probably would not get much of an education because of her communication limitations. Tressa refused to accept this stark assessment of Alandra’s prospects. Instead, she began the arduous process of starting her daughter’s education.

Economic need forced Tressa to move several times, and ...

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Overview

When, in 1968, 19-year-old Tressa Bowers took her baby daughter to an expert on deaf children, he pronounced that Alandra was “stone deaf,” she most likely would never be able to talk, and she probably would not get much of an education because of her communication limitations. Tressa refused to accept this stark assessment of Alandra’s prospects. Instead, she began the arduous process of starting her daughter’s education.

Economic need forced Tressa to move several times, and as a result, she and Alandra experienced a variety of learning environments: a pure oralist approach, which discouraged signing; Total Communication, in which the teachers spoke and signed simultaneously; a residential school for deaf children, where Signed English was employed; and a mainstream public school that relied upon interpreters. Changes at home added more demands, from Tressa’s divorce to her remarriage, her long work hours, and the ongoing challenge of complete communication within their family. Through it all, Tressa and Alandra never lost sight of their love for each other, and their affection rippled through the entire family. Today, Tressa can triumphantly point to her confident, educated daughter and also speak with pride of her wonderful relationship with her deaf grandchildren. Alandra’s Lilacs is a marvelous story about the resiliency and achievements of determined, loving people no matter what their circumstances might be.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When her daughter (called "Landy") was five months old, Bowers began to suspect that her baby could not hear. Her fear was soon confirmed by an unsympathetic physician who told her that Landy was "stone deaf." Despite some awkward writing, Bowers honestly and successfully conveys the difficulties and joys of bringing up a deaf child and her determination to give Landy a good life. Unfortunately, educators for the deaf in the 1970s were still divided into traditionalists, who espoused oralism (teaching the deaf to speak) and forbade the use of sign language, and the emerging movement of those who advocated total communication. Relying on the advice of so-called experts, Bowers enrolled Landy in a strict oral program at the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis. However, when the state stopped paying Landy's school fees, Bowers placed her daughter in a residential school where sign language was taught and its use encouraged. Eventually, she was able to negotiate a place for her daughter in a supportive public school nearby. By the time Landy became a teenager, she socialized almost entirely with other deaf teens. Though Bowers learned sign language, she has never become proficient in it and now feels that she and the rest of her family missed an opportunity to enter Landy's world more fully. It is nonetheless clear that she raised her daughter to be a sensitive and self-sufficient adult: Landy is now married to a deaf husband and is the mother of three healthy deaf children. This is an involving look at deaf culture and the alienation that can arise between the deaf and the hearing. B&w photos. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Bowers here recounts her experience as a hearing parent raising a deaf daughter and gives advice to other parents of deaf children. Don't dutifully do what the experts suggest, she implores. When she was a young parent, experts told her that the oral method offered the best hope for Alandra; as a result, even when this method had clearly failed her daughter, she continued to struggle with it--that is, until Alandra finally taught her otherwise. Bowers offers hope to parents just discovering that their child is deaf and gives them the questions to ask and the resources to pursue. Bowers's best advice? "Follow your heart and love your child." This engaging narrative provides good reading for anyone with an interest in the subject, whether serious or casual, and boldly takes on the oral vs. signing debate. A good addition to all public and academic collections.--KellyJo Houtz Griffin, Auburn, WA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563680823
  • Publisher: Gallaudet University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Pages: 132
  • Sales rank: 657,547
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tressa Bowers lives and works in Euless, TX.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
1 Reconciliation 1
2 Homecoming 5
3 The Race Begins 20
4 The Sounds of Silence 27
5 Total Communication 38
6 Stuttering with My Hands 47
7 Home Signs 53
8 A Difficult Undertaking 61
9 Our "Normal" Life 68
10 Half Hearing and Half Deaf? 77
11 Her Rightful Place 93
12 Our Too Cool Daughter 104
13 My Own Place in the Deaf World 116
14 Enter Chad ... and Tyler 123
15 I Finally Get to Hear Baby Talk 133
16 A Normal Pair of Boys 139
17 Smelling the Lilacs 148
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