Raising Deaf and Hard of Hearing Kids
My three kids were born with hearing in the normal range. My oldest was two when we suspected that he lost some of his hearing. It took us nearly six months to convince our HMO doctor to approve a hearing test at the local hospital. Tests confirmed what my husband and I had suspected all along: our son had a profound hearing loss.
The younger two kids were four and two when they both became very sick with a high fever. It took them nearly a week to recover. I sent the four-year-old off to preschool, and when she came home, she was upset. "Mommy, I can't hear in school," she said.
A hearing test showed that she had a mild-to-severe hearing loss. She wanted nothing to do with her first pair of hearing aids. When her best friend called her on the phone, she threw the phone down on the floor out of frustration and began to cry. I held it together long enough to console her, and then excused myself to go to the bathroom and have my own crying spell. A few months later, my youngest son was soon diagnosed with the same kind of hearing loss. By then, I could only shrug and add yet another pair of hearing aids to the mix.
The kids were six, four and two when we began to collectively kill trees with the mountain of paperwork that comes with early intervention and special education. Between audiology visits, speech therapy appointments and early intervention specialists, our days were a blur. To top things off, I started a state chapter of Hands & Voices to address the lack of resources for families with deaf and hard of hearing children.
Over the years, we learned that the five generations of family members with hearing loss have all sported the same mitochondrial gene, a gene that was passed on through the females in the family. This means that my daughter will pass the same gene on to her kids. We've talked to the kids about the gene and the implications of it. My daughter's response was simply, "I could have deaf kids? That's cool!"
Some folks may see the genetic trait as a sad thing, but I honestly do not. Life with three deaf and hard of hearing kids has been a richly blessed one. I look forward to bouncing my future grandkids on my knee. Their hearing status doesn't matter.