Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/377

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365
SPEECH FOB DEAF CHILDREN.

secure these desirable gifts the pupil must be educated by a system which gives speech in the beginning and imparts all instruction through that medium. Prof. A. S. Hill, in calling attention to the poor showing in written language even among the college-bred, dwells upon the importance of practice sufficient to enable the pupil to write without thought of the mechanical difficulties, maintaining that to be the first essential in efforts to acquire a good style. "A boy must have written much before he can form his letters without special pains; and much more before he can set down what he has to say without stumbling over punctuation, spelling, and grammar; and more still before he can write with facility." Upon the same principle the deaf child must articulate words long before he can do so readily; must speak in sentences long before he can do so fluently; and must talk on every occasion, to his teacher, to his classmate, in his lessons and in. his play, before he can do so easily to the stranger and in society. Practice is the only means of attaining a spontaneous use of the vocal organs. Nothing else will do away with a consciousness of the mechanical difficulties.

The hearing power of the young infant is an unknown quantity, because the sensitive bundle of tissues responds quickly to impressions from various sources and is thus misleading. A loud noise may startle by its strong vibrations against the skin fully as readily as by the auditory sense. Intelligent parents have failed to discover deafness until their children were over a year old. The look of the very young deaf child is usually an interested one, accompanied by fewer unnecessary movements of the eye and less play of the facial muscles. From increased observant faculty comes a marked development of the imitative functions. The child's hands spring to his help. He goes through motions that he has noticed those about him use; in their case, however, speech and lack of observation have kept them from consciousness of those movements. They begin to see his, they are unaware of theirs; to them the child has invented his own signs. This fact discovers another. It is impossible for the normal human being of tender age to imitate easily a position of the mouth unaccompanied by the sound belonging to it; thereby proving the ear guides him more than the eye, and it is the absence of the hearing sense that obliges the vision to act early in behalf of the deaf child. A boy of two years was told to imitate what he saw in another's face; the lips were pursed, but he failed to round his until the sound of oo was made, though his deaf brother, noticing his difficulty, brought a spool to him to show the shape. Through hereditary tendencies the connection between the ear and the speech center is short and practicable; through educative means that between the eye and the speech center may be complete and