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Staunton Parents’ Deafness No Barrier for Kids

By Megan Williams, Staunton News Leader, 5/14/2012

NVRC Note: Feta Fernsler is a former Northern Virginia resident.
Feta Fernsler answered emails on his phone and Rowan, 4, and Surina, 7, looked at Star Wars Legos as they waited for their mom to grab some groceries at Target.
“I hate coming to Target,” Feta said, as the crowds streamed past and his kids chatted with friends passing by. “I’m so bored. I always end up on my phone.”
When Erin Fernsler caught up with them, Rowan didn’t want to go. He looked up at his dad and moved his fingers in the same motion over and over again.
“Why? Why? Why?” he asked, while signing the word.
“Because it’s time to go,” Feta signed back.
Rowan isn’t deaf. Neither is Surina. Feta and Erin are though.
"Right now, Rowan and Surina are young enough to be accepting of anything that is 'different' from them," Erin said in an email. "As of today, they think we are normal, just 'Mom' and 'Dad' who just can't hear. They think we're cool."
"We're blessed with their innocence," she added.
Despite what seems like an obvious barrier, the kids have never had trouble communicating their needs, Erin said. The kids know sign language just as well as they know how to use their voice. In Rowan's case, his American Sign Language (ASL) is more developed than his vocal communication.
They both used sign language first.
"Yes, they do get frustrated when we don't understand what they want exactly, but they are so creative," she said.
Thanks to DHHSC