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Deaf Son’s Mother Becomes Interpreter At Hospital

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Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO

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By COURTNEY POMEROY
The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Most parents will tell you there are times when they don’t speak the same language as their kids. Theresa Posthuma is a certified interpreter of her son’s language, but it took a lot of training.

“When he was 2 weeks old, I noticed he wasn’t responding to sounds,” she said.

About a month later, Brady Painter was diagnosed as deaf.

At that time, Posthuma, her daughter, Kelsey, Brady and her then-husband lived in northern Virginia. When Brady was 2 years old, the family moved to Ohio.

“My daughter and I both loved Cincinnati,” she said. The cost of living there was low enough that she could stay home with the children, and she had a good group of friends.

But when Brady reached kindergarten, “it felt like something was really missing. I just felt like, academically, (his school) wasn’t up to par.”

By that time, she was divorced.

“I picked up my two kids and myself and moved to Maryland with no job,” she said.

The reason? The Maryland School for the Deaf.

“There are very few really good schools for the deaf in the country,” she said, and she wanted Brady to have the best education available.

Nearly 500 miles from their old life in Ohio, Posthuma and her family started fresh.

While Posthuma was fluent in American Sign Language when they moved, she did not become a certified interpreter until a year later.

The idea of becoming an interpreter had been in the back of her mind for several years, ever since she interpreted for a friend in northern Virginia while he was in the hospital.

“I felt then that it might be an option for me as a career.”

Fittingly, she is now a staff interpreter at Frederick Memorial Hospital. She also does freelance work, which has taken her around the world on cruise ships and doing government work abroad, she said.

“I’m very lucky that I ended up having a talent to interpret,” she said.

A person can be fluent in ASL without being able to accurately and quickly relay messages in both languages, she said. Interpreters must learn how to convey the proper affect of the people they are translating for, and they must remain neutral.

“I’m not a person in that exchange,” she said. “I’m a facilitator of communication. I’m not there to give advice or to offer my opinion.”

To keep her certification, Posthuma must get 80 hours of continuing education through workshops and training every four years.

“Language is ever-changing,” she said.

While adjusting to life in Maryland was difficult at first, “the opportunities that (Brady) has had out here and the opportunities I’ve had out here have just been amazing.”

Among other things, Posthuma met and married her husband, Mark, since moving to Frederick.

Brady, who is now 22, attended MSD through 12th grade. He is now a graduate student at Gallaudet University.

He says he owes a lot to his mom.

“To me, it’s like she sacrificed her life to ensure I receive the education as best as possible,” he wrote in an email. “It showed a parent really cared about a deaf child’s education needs. If it wasn’t for her, I would not be who I am today. I really applaud and am thankful that she did it for me.”

Brady is following in his mother’s career footsteps. He is studying to become a certified deaf interpreter.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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