For a Deaf Son

Since For a Deaf Son aired immediately after Through Deaf Eyes, I recorded it. Rob Tranchin, an executive producer at PBS KERA in Dallas, created this 1994 documentary exploring his and his wife’s search for the right school for his deaf son. The parents discussed their thoughts, concerns and frustrations. They interviewed the headmasters at different schools as well as experts in deaf education.
At the end of the film, they were undecided on what path to take. Laurie Tranchin leaned toward oral education while Rob Tranchin supported ASL. In searching the Internet to see what happened, the only thing I could find — sadly — was that their son Tommy passed away in 2003 at age 15. I found a way to contact Mr. Tranchin, but when I saw the news… I dropped that idea even though I’d still like to know the outcome.
I admire the Tranchins for filming an honest account of their struggles to do what’s best for Tommy. I’m sorry there wasn’t a happier ending.


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    • Jenny on March 29, 2007 at 9:05 am
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    Wow. Thank you for sharing! Yeah, it’s a shame there wasn’t a happier ending for the Trachins.

    • Cristy on March 29, 2007 at 9:41 am
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    I’m sorry I missed this program. I hope it airs again.

    • Curious on March 29, 2007 at 12:09 pm
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    How did he pass away? Accident? Disease? ???

      • Caitlyn on November 14, 2012 at 9:44 pm
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      He committed accidental suicide at age 15 in 2003 🙁 I just watched this film for my ASL class in college and was heartbroken when I found out what happened because I had grown emotionally attached to the child in the film.

  1. Curious, please contact me with a valid e-mail address and I’ll tell you.

    1. I saw “For a Deaf Son” and it was riveting and painful for me
      because it told my story…the only difference being that Thomas
      was the younger deaf brother and, in my family, my deaf brother
      was older and I was a younger hearing sibling. However, the frustrations,
      tears, tantrums and constant discussions/arguments about language,
      educational philosophies and the strain on the marriage…I LIVED that
      So I would like to know what happened to Thomas and when, if
      only to bless his spirit. I wasn’t thrilled with his parents’ attitudes but
      they loved him and I can’t imagine the depth of the family’s heartbreak.
      Thank you,
      John Walsh

  2. Wow – what a bummer!
    I did watch it, too.

  3. I saw this movie several years ago and thought it was an open, honest account of what parents go through in trying to make decisions about school placement and communication methods. My heart goes out to the family for the loss of their son.

  4. There is nothing that can prepare a parent for the loss of one of their children

    • danielle on December 11, 2007 at 6:01 pm
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    we just started watching “FOR A DEAF SON” in ASL 2. It was very shocking and sad that his parents could not understand what he was saying. I think that his parents should have kept up the classes so they could communicate with Tommy. But the thing that shocked me the most was that he committed suiside at the age of 15. If it wasn’t for my teacher haveing us fill out a paper as we were watching this and then going and having us figure out what happened to tommy. I would have had to wait and saw what happened till the end of the movie. Its very sad to see something like this happen to someone.

    • Julia on January 10, 2008 at 7:02 pm
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    I heard that Thomas committed suicide in the last week of 2007, now I find this interesting because it says he died in 2003. I found out from my ASL 2 teacher, other teachers must know too. Maybe she got the wrong information, but I didn’t misunderstand my teacher.

    • Mary on January 23, 2008 at 10:49 pm
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    I knew Tommy personally and I loved him very much. I think the things his parents did for him were amazing. He is definately a person I will never forget.

    • Alice Teeter on March 27, 2008 at 2:35 pm
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    Hi! I am trying to get ahold of a copy of For a Deaf Son, can’t find it through PBS, the SF library, or netflix, etc. Any idea how I could get ahold of a copy to view it? I have a reaction paper due on it.
    Thank you so much, Alice.

    • Anilu on November 11, 2008 at 9:51 am
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    Hi all–I watched the film for my Audiology counseling class. Our professor said that Tommy was playing the “Choking Game” alone in his room and died as a result at the age of 15. So it would have been unintentional suicide. (Apparently some kids did that back then.) I’ve also heard on other blogs that his parents were very loving and that he had grown up, not without his problems, but as a kind and loving teenager.

    • Brenna Lomasney on October 1, 2009 at 9:13 pm
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    I just watched the movie on Monday in my deaf culture class. It moved me and my heart broke for Thomas. I am writing a paper about the documentary, but I need his pciture. I can’t seem to find it anywhere, I was just wondering if anyone has come across one online.

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