April 2009 – I unexpectedly found myself reeling from my son’s diagnosis of late onset hearing loss. At the time, both my husband and I had typical hearing (I have since been diagnosed with hearing loss myself and now wear hearing aids) and neither of us had any knowledge of hearing loss or contact with families who had children with hearing loss.
When I managed to find resources for parents they were geared towards parents whose children failed the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS), and emphasized the importance of early intervention before the age of six months in order to decrease the learning gap. My son was almost three when he was diagnosed with his hearing loss and I learned there was a tremendous gap between his development and that of other three year olds. In fact when he was first tested for speech and language development he tested at the level of an eighteen month old – not what I wanted to hear as a parent.
At the age of five, after spending two years at the wonderfully supportive and nurturing Clarke School for Hearing & Speech in Manhattan, my son joined a mainstream kindergarten class. He now tests for most language and speech milestones on an age appropriate level.
Has it been easy? Some days are better than others, but over the course of the past few years I have watched my son blossom and the hearing aids that I once thought would define him have become mere blips in all the components that make up who he is.
Since 2009, when my son was diagnosed, I have become involved in working with parents and helping them adjust to parenting a child with hearing loss. I have found that once a parent connects with someone who understands what they are going through as a parent they are in a much better place to move on.