Isn’t it strange how parents will share intimate details about their children with complete strangers at a playground simply because you are standing next to each other pushing a swing. Even stranger yet, the advice that we take from them, whom we know nothing about nor they about us When my son, Wyatt was 2 ½, and still not talking, I can remember a parent telling me that I should just try talking to him. She had no idea that I was all talked out. I talked and talked, and sang, and rhymed, and danced. He ignored me. I tried to entice him with the Itsy Bitsy Spider, to no avail. He had no interest. I looked up every verse, and memorized, “Frog Went a Courtin” just to make sure I had something to sing to him in the bathtub. I still know the entire song by heart. I just didn’t know that he was deaf.
When he wouldn’t babble, the pediatrician told me not to worry yet. My mother-in-law claimed that he babbled all day at her house. When he didn’t respond to my voice, the occupational therapist said that he heard me, but, he had a sensory disorder and didn’t know how to respond. When I screeched out a few notes on the violin, or vacuumed the house, we bragged about what a great sleeper he was. A wise friend at work told me that I should keep on explaining everything to him. He really was listening to me. Then there were at least a dozen stories about a child, usually a boy, who never said a word, and started speaking in full sentences when he turned 3. Oh yeah, there was even a center for speech and hearing where I was told that hearing probably wasn’t an issue. The first audiologist I took him to told me he probably had some minor hearing loss, but not anything significant.
He can’t hear anything. He is completely deaf. It is genetic and I have reason to believe that he was probably born like that.
Wouldn’t it have been nice to hear from a parent of a child that is deaf?
Yes, it would have. He is now 8, making progress, and trying to catch up from 3 years of missed language and many of life’s lessons that come with it. When I try to explain to parent’s of typical hearing children some of the problems I encounter as a parent, I still tend to get a lot of bad advice, from well-meaning people, who really just have no experience, knowledge, or understanding of what I go through on a day to day basis trying to teach my child the things that they take for granted in teaching their children.
I have always had a circle of women friends. Sorry dads, I know you are out there too, but probably just not reading this article. As an adult I have found that I have my work friends, my neighborhood friends, my social friends, and my family friends. I have also taken on another group of friends who are very near and dear to my heart. My Hands & Voices friends are a blessing and sometimes the only people who understand me as a parent. There are also those immediate connections with strangers of DHH children. At the water park, the zoo, the rest stop on the highway, when you see a child signing or maybe wearing cochlear implants. There is an immediate connection and understanding of one another. I feel as if I have been chosen to part of a very elite group of parents. I am so glad to have finally found my way here. Thank you Hands & Voices. I love this community, the people I work with, and each and every parent that shares their story with me asks me to share mine. I like the common themes and threads, as well as the unique challenges that we face.