Parenting A Deaf Child
My husband and I found out that our youngest son was deaf when he was around 3 months old. This news came after he spent a month in the NICU fighting for his life. He had passed the newborn hearing test that was given prior to him leaving the hospital, so when we were told the news, the shock was almost overwhelming.
The first thing that lead us to be concerned was the fact that our son would not turn his head to loud noises. He wouldn't get startled by the barking dog or a large truck that would go by the house. Babies have a natural reflex when they are startled. He never got startled. People could in and out of the door, there could be a lot of commotion, but the noises never seemed to bother him. Even his older brother running and hollering around the house didn't phase him.
At his 3 month check-up we brought our concerns to the doctor. At the time, we didn't actually believe that he was deaf but we felt that something was not quite right. The doctor set up a hearing test with the audiology department at the hospital. We went to the test and after, the doctor met with us to give us the news: Our son had profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. That meant that he had profound hearing loss in both ears. The damage was permanent and hearing aids may or may not help.
I didn't know what to do or think once we received the news. How did this happen? Did I do something wrong? Where did we go from here? It seems silly now, but at the time, my biggest worry was that he would never hear the rain or the wind. I don't know why this upset me so much but the thought of him never experiencing a world of sound depressed me beyond belief. The first two weeks after the diagnosis was full of disbelief. We told our family and friends and they were as supportive as anyone could be, but it still didn't stop the pain.
Our whole lives changed with a single medical diagnosis. The news thrusted us into a place that we had never been before and a place that we didn't ever think that we would be. A person doesn't realize all of the things that there are to be grateful for until one of those things is taken away. After something like this all there is are questions and not really any answers.
He is three years old now and the road has been a long and rough one. As parents we have had to learn new skills to be able to teach him new skills. As time passes, I will share this long and rougn road with the readers. Hopefully my story can help inspire others.
Great Books and Movies about Deaf Culture
In this absorbing story of the changing life of a community, the authors of Deaf in America reveal historical events and forces that have shaped the ways that Deaf people define themselves today. Inside Deaf Culture relates Deaf people's search for a voice of their own, and their proud self-discovery and self-description as a flourishing culture.
A long, painful experience of hearing intolerance has generally kept Deaf culture fairly closed to outsiders, even sympathetic ones. But now Padden and Humphries...have written a charming small book that invites the rest of us at least part way in...A most welcome addition to that very small shelf of books that truly illuminate the experience of being deaf.
--Beryl Lieff Benderly (Psychology Today )
DVD by PBS about the history of deafness.
This new DVD, American Sign Language Everyday Words: Holidays & Events, is great for everyone. You will learn over 250 everyday vocabulary
words in ASL about 21 major holidays, events and more. Every vocabulary will be open-captioned for convenient learning.
Mark Medoff's tough play about deafness is sweetened and softened in this 1986 film adaptation directed by Randa Haines (Wrestling Ernest Hemingway). William Hurt plays a teacher newly hired at a school for deaf children, and Marlee Matlin is the deaf and withdrawn janitor who captures his attention. Romantic and heartfelt, the film makes its audience care very much about its two leading characters, and wince when Hurt's well-meaning instructor allows Matlin's handicap to become a problem. Haines develops some interesting visual ideas to underscore the isolation of Matlin's world, particularly a lovely refrain that finds Matlin swimming alone at night. The drama is cut somewhat by the bouncy energy and good humor of Hurt's students. Piper Laurie is very good in a supporting role as Matlin's mother. --Tom Keogh
Bilateral Sensorineural Hearing Loss
While there are many types of hearing loss and many different causes for hearing loss, our son suffers from bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. This means that both ears had damage to the inner ear and the path that lead from the nerves to the brain. This type of damage is permanent and there is no way to fix the problems.
Bilateral sensorineural hearing loss results in a reduction in sound and the ability to understand speech. The causes of this type of hearing loss ranges from birth injury to exposure to drugs that are harmful to the auditory system. Our son's was due to a combination of Rh Incompatibility disease at birth and the drugs that were used to save his life. I am grateful that he is deaf and not dead!
Some people that have bilateral sensorineural hearing loss do benefit from the use of hearing aids. It does depend on the severity of the loss. Our son has a profound loss, actually we just found out that he has no hearing in his left ear and a slight amount in his right. This severity makes the use of hearing aids a hit or miss process. Right now he uses a lower-power hearing aid that seems to benefit him a little.
The hardest part of this whole process has been accepting it. When we first learned of his hearing loss, I threw myself into research about it so that I could be knowledgeable. We all know that doctors sometimes use big words that we regular folk don't always understand. Our doctor did this from time to time so I would take the time to research it. I also realize now, that I was looking for a way to fix him and take it all way. This was not even a possibility, but in those first few weeks it helped to take my mind off of things and in a way I felt like I was helping him.
I cried. A lot. I was angry a lot too. I probably went through every emotion that a person could. I look back on the experience now and realize that I went through the stages similar to the grief process. In a way, I had to grieve and let go of the child that I thought I was going to have and accept the child that I did have. It was not a quick process and the learning is still taking place. Accepting his hearing loss came about a year and a half after his diagnosis, so when I say it takes time, I mean it takes time.
A diagnosis like this will not kill you, believe me. Even on the days when things are at their worst and you feel like the world is crashing down around you, you will find yourself still standing when the night comes. Fighting another day. When the day of acceptance comes, it feels like a huge weight has just been lifted off of your shoulders and you can conquer anything!
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