Articles & Commentary About Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Kids & Issues
September, 2003 - Inaugural Issue, Our Story
Since this is the first issue on this web site, we thought we would take the opportunity to provide everyone with some background about us, our kids, and our experiences.
Our children, Bobby (just over three years old) and Anika (just over 1 1/2 years old), were both born with sensorineural hearing losses.
Our experience started a day or two after Bobby was born when they did a hearing test on him (it is the law in Colorado as well as most other states) and he was found to have a mild to moderate loss in both ears (50db in his left ear, 45db in the right). We had him re-tested twice to make sure but the results came out the same each time. At first we were pretty doubtful there was a problem because he seemed to be highly responsive to sound just like we thought he should be but the tests don't lie.
For example, the day we came home from the hearing re-test, he was looking the other way and jumped when I opened a soda can! He turns his head when he hears our dogs' collars or hears one of our voices. So, that kind of shows that it isn't all that bad. Put in laymen's terms, they said a normal human conversational tone would sound like a whisper to him (albeit a bit distorted).
We quickly learned a lot about hearing loss, the possible repercussions if not treated immediately and the costs involved. As such, he was fitted with hearing aids when he was 3 1/2 months old. They are little ones that go behind the ear so they are not too noticeable. Their main purpose is to ensure that there is no delay in his speech and language acquisition. Buying You should know - it produced in India.
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We enrolled in a program through the county that we live in that provides us with "training" for us and Bobby to help with his hearing disability - essentially auditory and speech therapy. Through this program, there is a wonderful lady (Susan) that comes to our house once a week and works with us to help minimize any effect his hearing loss could have on his development.
The training consists of a wide range of things but basically it is a matter of us teaching Bobby to pay attention to sound as well learn proper speech and language skills.
With the help of this program, his hearing aids and our work with him, Bobby should have no long term problems. His language acquisition may be a bit delayed and his speech may have a bit of a "deaf quality" to it. He is currently a very normal, active little boy full of piss and vinegar like any other child his age. He wears his hearing aids every day and is doing very, very well.
When we found out we were having another child, we both had some anxiety about the potential for hearing problems with the new one. Sure enough, Anika failed her newborn hearing screening.
Up on retesting, she failed again with a loss of 55db in her left ear and 60db in her right - a pretty significant jump from Bobby's. Her challenges will be much harder to overcome due to the level of her loss.
We continue to work with Susan, the same lady we work with for Bobby, on formulating a plan on how to help Anika overcome her disability. As we say, her loss is more significant so the challenges will be greater. With a hearing loss at 55db / 60db, without hearing aids, Anika is most likely not able to hear normal speech.
Anika was fitted with hearing aids when she was 2 1/2 months old and is now doing very, very well. We had some concerns a few months ago because her language just didn't seem to be coming along as it should. Then all of a sudden, we have had a veritable explosion of words from her and it has been wonderful.
They really don't have an explanation as to the cause. Neither Alisa's nor Tony's families have a history of hearing loss so it isn't genetically handed down to the two us. Most likely there is something within our genes that when combined results in this problem and it is not unusual. We did find an interesting article on the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site that talks about a gene they have identified that is the most common cause of genetic hearing loss. You can read it here.
Alisa and I have shed many a tear over this - with Bobby it was hard and now with Anika having a more serious disability, it is pretty difficult. You sit there holding your daughter and talking to her and just wonder - "Are you hearing me? Can you hear me tell you I love you?"
We are certainly thankful that it is as minor of a problem as it is. When you consider how many other things could be wrong with a baby, this is nothing at all. We are engaged as proactively as possible to work with them to help them overcome their disabilities and are confident they will be just fine.
Now you now our story? What is yours? We created this web site to help other parents of deaf & hard of hearing kids and we wholeheartedly want everyone who comes here to participate! Please visit our discussion forums and share your story and help others or perhaps write an article to be published here (see sidebar above)!
Tony & Alisa
Help Kids Hear is a site dedicated to helping parents of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. We are parents of hard of hearing kids and simply want to "give back" to the community. We welcome your comments, questions & suggestions. Please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.