As we think of a dinner table, we see it as a gathering of the family members sitting down talking about how the day went. Hearing family members pitch in to talk and laugh over and plan out for the next day. Now, look at the picture carefully. There is a hint. If you are very observant, give a pat on your back if you could get the idea. Let us see what is dinner table syndrome without further ado.
Dinner table syndrome from a deaf person's point of view deals more with exclusion at family gatherings or events. Unfortunately, it is a global issue. Exclusion at events leads the deaf individual and the deaf community to be secluded from the conversations. These kinds of exclusions lead deaf and hard of hearing children be isolated, stressed, lonely, and frustrated. It also contributes to low-self esteem and confidence.
In my opinion, it does not affect the young Deaf children as much as it does to Deaf adults.
While the events or family talks are going on, you would find the deaf adult in another room leafing through a book alone, watching YouTube videos, or maybe on some occasions sleeping so, they can avoid it. Deaf Anxiety, Dinner table syndrome, and brain fatigue comes into play, and it leaves us very exhausted or quiet. We become passive observers observing people talking. Most of the time, I would prefer not to stay for any social gatherings or leave early.
In my opinion, it does not affect young Deaf children as much as it does Deaf adults. The young children would play together, making a noisy racket. But as we become adults, we would yearn to be a part of the conversations. The language barrier and communication problems also lead to the exclusion of the Deaf adult. As we ask someone to brief us on the discussion taking place or repeat the joke, they all were laughing a few seconds ago. They say, “nevermind, it is not important,” or they Waterdown the banter, or the conversation leaving all the relevant tidbits to the point that it does not become a joke at all.
The interaction at the family dinner table gives opportunities for deaf adults to learn appropriate social etiquette and behaviors.
In the Asian household, hearing family members usually speak more than one language. While getting carried away during the events, they will not converse in the language the Deaf adult is fluent in, which can also lead the Deaf adult to be excluded from the conversation. The same goes if hearing family members converse in the language the Deaf child is fluent in. It would isolate the deaf adult in terms of lipreading, Deaf anxiety, and brain fatigue.
The elders, society, and the medical field always iterates that children watch us while growing up, learning from us, speaking the language the elders around them communicate and behave. In the same way, the interaction at the family dinner table gives opportunities for deaf adults to learn appropriate social etiquette and behaviors. Even now, if I have a family gathering, I would be a passive observer or leafing through a novel enjoying my solidarity world.
I think most of these are unintentional exclusion. For example, I am going out with a friend. She brings a couple of hearing friends. She gets carried away, overlooking my needs. I, as a deaf person, become a passive observer. I can say the same for the family. The hearing people are not experiencing what is being missed, so they do not understand the impact it has on the Deaf individual.
I wanted to bring out this straightforwardly without buttering up anything. These things take place frequently during social events or family gatherings. I also wanted to show the impact this exclusion can have on the deaf community. Most of the time, it is unintentional, or it occurs without you knowing it. As parents of a deaf adult, I want you to be aware of it and at least try to include them in your family talks. The society, I wanted to bring awareness to this issue.