A Great Book on Raising Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

I just finished reading the book If a Tree Falls: A Family’s Quest to Hear and be Heard by Jennifer Rosner. Having looked in bookstores for a year and never finding it, I finally special ordered the book and it just arrived yesterday. I read all through Josh’s nap yesterday and, after he went to bed last night, I stayed up late reading and finished it. I know a book is good if I am willing to cut into my own sleep to finish it. I don’t usually recommend books on my blog (although I guess I’ve done so twice now in the span of a week!) but I wanted to get the word out. The “special needs” section of bookstores always have endless materials on raising autistic children, however, it is extremely rare to find books about raising Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.

I really enjoyed reading a book about another mother’s journey in dealing with hearing loss and deafness in her two daughters. I could completely relate at so many junctures in the book. I mean, I was glad to know that someone else devised “at home” hearing tests for their newborn after they failed the newborn screening but before the ABR. How many of these I engaged in, I don’t know, but it was quite a few.

If a Tree Falls also describes in detail the process that Rosner and her husband went through in deciding to get their second daughter implanted with a Cochlear Implant. Before I entered into this world of hearing loss with Josh, I had no idea that such a debate raged on in the Deaf community. And I have been shocked to see the strength of some of the comments from members of this community on the blogs of parents who have chosen CIs for their children. I wish everyone on both sides of the debate would read Ms. Rosner’s wonderful portrayal of all that goes into this difficult decision. I think it might lend some much needed peace, love, and understanding to this fractured community.

Finally, this book contains some fascinating historical fiction story lines developed off of Rosner’s research and imaginings regarding the legacy of deafness that she discovered in her own family line after her first daughter’s hearing impairment was diagnosed.

I would recommend this book to all parents (but especially parents of special needs kids) as it really details the struggle to stay present for your kids and the struggle to know that you are doing enough for your kids. The emotional ups and downs of raising special needs children are themselves exhausting (as I am learning) and staying present to the daily ebb and flow of your child’s needs is doubly difficult, at least I think so. This book allowed me greater understanding and empathy for my own parenting behaviors. For instance, yesterday Josh saw his daddy’s Jeep coming up the driveway after work. He greeted Chris with his hat in hand, in this manner telling daddy he was ready to go outside with him, immediately. Some days, I too wait for Chris’s Jeep to drive up so that I can get some time alone, immediately. I no longer feel like this makes me a disengaged parent–just one who needs a breather from time to time.

A gorgeous read from beginning to end.

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