Childhood Stats and the Joy of Paul

Just in regard to my last post and finding so many books on autism in the bookstore and few, if any, on raising children with hearing loss. I was curious and so looked up the stats with respect to the rate of incident of these conditions. Although hearing loss is the most common disability among ALL people in this country, only 4 out of 1,000 children are born with a diagnosed hearing impairment and 1 in 1,000 are born Deaf. Apparently 1 in 110 children are born or diagnosed early with Autism and if you look specifically at males, the numbers are even more frightening–1 in 70. What is going on here? Is it environmental? Has it always been this way and now we are just better able to diagnosis this condition? So, from the sounds of it, the bookstore shelves are rightly overflowing with books about raising and nurturing autistic children. This doesn’t diminish my joy in finding a book addressing the parenting of children with hearing loss; it just raises my degree of empathy for all parents confronting the often difficult and new paths that open in front of them when they learn their baby has special needs.

I am grateful for the abundance of resources provided to me in this country that have helped me deal with Josh’s hearing loss. One of the two year olds in Josh’s school district DHOH (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) class was born in a poor African country. He was born with a severe cleft lip and palate and was somehow left in a closet at a hospital hours after he was born. A nurse visiting on a mission trip from Minnesota found him. She brought him to the hospital administrators hoping that they could do something for this little baby. They told her that if she brought him to an orphanage, he would be left to die due to his facial disfigurement. She managed to get “Paul” (not his real name) out of the country. And showed up at the airport with just a little surprise for her husband. Although both in their fifties and having just put their three kids through college, they started all over again with this little guy. They soon found out that Paul was also profoundly Deaf. He is now two and a half and has been implanted bilaterally with CIs. He is also undergoing extensive surgeries for his cleft lip and palate. Paul is about the sweetest guy I’ve ever met. Although he can’t speak much yet, he signs beautifully and he speaks with and from his heart. For instance, he will grab my hand and hold on tight to tell me that he wants to hold my hand as we make our way to the gym. Paul is a blessing to all who know him and clearly a joy to his parents. I am so very glad that his adoptive mom found him in that closet a few years back. Her actions in not abandoning Paul, who was already abandoned once, are a lesson to me in being open to whatever God puts in your path and trusting that he will provide ample provisions for the road ahead.

  1. Julie Coleman said:

    Wow–what an amazing and inspiring story! I really believe that people come into our lives for a reason–we just need to be open to accepting them!

  2. Leah said:

    Wow. What a touching story – I am so glad Paul’s family found him, and that he is cherished by them for the joy and the blessing that he is. I am sure everyone’s life is much richer for taking the opportunity to love a little baby – what an awe inspiring story!

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