To the Parents of A Newborn Recently Diagnosed With Hearing Loss

You are fearful. You don’t know what this means for your child’s future, for your own. I want to promise you that it will be okay. Try not to let any of the joy over your newborn be drown out by worries for the future; the future will arrive with or without your worry; the future will take care of its own–you only need take care of your child, today.

When my son was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss eight years ago, I sometimes let fears about his future drown out the joys of his babyhood. If only someone could have told me:

  1. Your son will be able to communicate with you–whether through ASL or spoken language or both. Audiologists, speech therapists, schools, even occupational therapists all will help you along the way. Just take it one small step at a time;
  2. Your son will have friends. He will. This is not something for you to be fretting about when he’s still small enough to rest in your arms. You will be his first friend;
  3. Your son may not be able to hear the rain on the roof, but he’ll probably be the one to notice the rain outside the window when it is first falling, when it looks like hazy vertical lines, barely perceptible to the human eye;
  4. Your son will play piano. Yes, he will! Stand ready to be amazed;
  5. Your son will be one of the best spellers in his second grade (mainstreamed classroom);fullsizeoutput_3ce2
  6. Your son will take a little longer to develop spoken language than your two older (hearing) children did, but he’ll learn to read earlier due to all of the speech training he had as a preschooler;
  7. The kids at your son’s school will mostly think his blue and yellow hearing aid is cool. Sometimes he’ll be asked questions about it, but he’s never been teased.
  8. Your son will be really into comics and he’ll read El Deafo by Cece Bell (after you bring it home from the library to read yourself) just after he turns eight. He’ll relate to how the artist expresses her issues with hearing loss; he’ll be grateful for advances in hearing technology.
  9. At age eight, your son will receive his third hearing aid. In just eight years, the technology has already improved vastly. There is reason to continuously hope for miraculous advances in hearing technology.
  10. Your son will have bad days, just like everyone else. He’ll also have times of life that are more difficult than other times (typically at points of high transition). But those bad days and hard times are rarely connected to the fact that he was born with bilateral mild to moderate hearing loss (now moderate to severe in his left ear).
  11. Your child’s hearing aids or other hearing assisted technology (like CIs) might be a hassle at first, might seem scary at first, might seem a whole bunch of work at first (you might even resent them at first), but you will, one day, see this technology as just an extension of your child and you may even love that technology (because it is so helpful to your child and because it has simply become another aspect of your beloved child); and finally,
  12. It is going to be okay! Try to believe this so that you can get busy enjoying your son (or daughter) for the unique and wonderful little person he (or she) is, right now!

 

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