I forgot to remember my boyish grin anymore. My days in Pacific Northwest—plenty of harsh scenes haphazardly joined together, making my way here and there, surviving into a society filled with hatred and death threats. My childhood was an endless circuit of changing scenery from mainstreaming schools that covered up all the secrets. The town I lived in, small population around 500 people. I became the target of bullying in that town.
I had dabbled with alcohol for the first time when I was 11 years old getting a sip out of a beer from my father on New Year’s Eve. Within two years, I became drunk from drinking a bottle of whiskey on Christmas Eve encouraged by my favorite cousin then walked home across from my grandparents’ house. I remember how upset my father was with me that night. I even fell down the stairs twice. Those stupid cowboy boots. Yes, I actually wore cowboy boots.
By the age of 21, my life became a maze of scars surviving off “homeless” mind enough to survive. Barely. I took a liberty to look at snapshots of my old life through photo albums when my mother flew to see me after my second heart attack at the age of 38.
One dank afternoon during April in 2004, I receive a “graduation” certificate from probation and made myself a promise try to inspire to be a better man each day. With the amends I make with the community I try to be a better role model—at laughing expense. Depression, my drug of choice fueled a hard habit to kick for the next 20+ years. Depression is no funny business.
Rotating through mainstreaming schools and I face bullying from students. As an adult, the criminality comes into my life. My face grows creased and weathered with stress. I learned how to self-medicate my own pain for the rest of my life. Drinking is a great way for me to escape from anxiety, stress, and depression.
The mug shot took only a second becoming infamous. You know, the cameras produce an electronic beep signaling a picture that it has been taken. MUG SHOT THERE YOU GO! My life is at death wink. I refuse to fail as a Deaf returned citizen. DO NOT MOVE!
Evergreen School District allows my interpreter to oversee me while she works one-on-one with me in class, saying I must obey her rules. As a young boy, I was treated like a dog’s leash and occasionally give me commands.
Looking back, my family should have file a civil right complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice for violating my rights under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act—why not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it was created in 1990 and it has happened in 1980’s. With the abuses flowing around there, my childhood has shaken up and took my productivity away as a member of the society.
As a boy, my interpreters gave me a sense of danger, within section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act under my belt; the district has failed to cite in its argument that the regulations state an interpreter with the school district “is not responsible for the care or supervision of my human being.” The school district has allowed my interpreters to handle me like a dog.
The restriction on care and supervision of my education by my interpreters applies in educational settings where the abuses occurred around me and calls for a failure of assistance and safety part of the school district for the benefit of status quo in the program. Where is the interpretation of the law? None.
During my time, there were high volume of complaints I stood up for what I believed in, and the complaints were overwhelmingly ignored. Even though it has happened than 30 years ago, the investigation would say it does not meet with the merits at all. It has become a detrimental effect on my life, and the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) becomes a failure, a farce. The oppressive environment is real.
The fact that it hides the truth that are self-evident that the state of Washington taxpayers spends an inordinate amount of money on Deaf children (as being repulsed by the “behaved” dogs) at the expense of the quality of education and limit all the freedom of speech is sufficient. My family put a lot of trust in the district for a good fit that should step up and take the lion’s share of responsibility and allow Deaf children should be allowed to give a chance to share their education in good standing with mind and heart.
There are many Deaf children who are struggling in mainstreaming system and excel few life skills and most likely ending up behind the bars for good quality of time without occupancies.
I remember when I signed up for Peace Corps/AmeriCorps and provided me a sign language interpreter when I was 19 years old, I had hard time struggling with those people because it was sound-oriented that I seem to be fed up with and decides to make a radical change at my own adverse mentality and tries to make a better effort of my stress. Looking back, I realized that I did not have enough life skills coping with confusion and pain.
Writing about pain, it becomes a longer path to the house of depression. I had been hiding the fact that I have severe depression for years and years; I just could not disclose enough to the community, my friends, even my family. I would often said that, “I am just letting you know that I struggle with depression” and it was not strong enough to justify them that I am getting very tired of dealing with depression every day. My pride hurts me. The exploitation and resistance of pride hurts me even more.
In 1986 as 12 years old child, when I was asked to be sent to be interviewed at a mental health center what it is called Columbia River Mental Health Center and I was puzzled why I would be sent there along with my birth mother, my father, and his second ex-wife along with Carolyn, a hearing counselor whom knew a bit of sign language. There was no interpreter presented. That became a big problem. I tried to share my struggles at home and school, when I revealed what happened, the counsellor by the state law was required to report, but it has never happened and my father decided to stop the interview room and took me out of the room immediately.
My father had full-fledged custodial rights, he chose to do so for the best. I was the one who asked them to take me there and see counselling. It was not what I hoped for.
After the questioning by the detective at age of 20, I realized that something important that could have saved my life. The interpreter who was CODA, told me right there to get lawyer right away and save my life before entering into the questioning room, but I did not. That was the biggest mistake of my entire life.
I drove down to the center and talk with Carolyn right away. We had good long talk. She was my biggest supporter. She showed up every time for my court dates. I was asked whether I should or not pled guilty, I pick the last one. Carolyn was fired then it was never brought up in the eyes of the court. After her termination, my strongest evidence got lost. BOOM. Here comes the world of hurt!
In schools I walk through, the majority of “friends” dumped me as a teenager after I got branded as troublemaker and I was not fun anymore. (I was limited! Sheesh!) No one I know did not give me support and laugh ‘with’ me. Now I think as an adult, the more mature I am and start not to worry about what others think, and are more willing to make more accommodations in order to help a survivor, knowing that if the survivor is truly a survivor, they would do the same for you if you need it through copious amounts of wisdom!
There is not enough “explosion” of information from books, media, newspapers, or magazines about abused Deaf children. As a result, less people are less aware of the incidents in the past, present, and future. This is a serious issue that the awareness is not enough to be part of our collective consciousness of the whole humanity. Like it or not.
I was disgusted by their politics. Abused Deaf children do not fit a simple political agenda due to the ubiquity of Audism even in the dualistic thinking circles.
To be continued….
Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier
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