Friday, August 22, 2008

That's When I Knew _____ #1

I’ve been reading a few blogs lately, written by moms with deaf/HoH kids. I’ve gotta tell you, these moms are STRONG! Do NOT mess with these moms! Seriously, I am a FEATHER-WEIGHT next to them! I am in awe.

Frankly, we’ve had it easy. But one thing we didn't have (for Tate) was an early diagnosis. Apparently newborn screening hadn’t been introduced in our town when Tate was born, so we didn’t know.

There were little clues, but it really wasn’t obvious. (Okay, maybe I’m self-justifying? See for yourself…)

Our oldest, Wyatt, was not your typical kid. Smaller than average (as in, falling-off-the-growth-chart smaller), he did everything early. Walked at 8 months… mobility and no sense. And TALKED! That boy was talking in sentences when he was 12 – 15 months old. In the high-chair, “Done eating, down, go play, please.” Or, before bed, “Get it, snuggly-cuddly blanky.” Or, just to get a laugh from strangers, “GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY!” One day when Wyatt was four, or maybe almost five, he walked up to me and announced, “I’d like to learn to read today.”

When Tate was born, my (ex-speech-therapist) mom kept reminding me that kids are different, and I shouldn’t expect him to do things as early as Wyatt. And he didn’t, but he wasn’t behind the curve either. His baby-talk had some quirks that make more sense now, but didn’t set any alarm bells ringing. He had no “s” at the beginning or end of his words. “Hey Mama! It ‘nowin’! Let’ make a ‘nowball!” He mixed up his “m” and “n” sounds. But it was all very toddler-appropriate. And even people outside the family could understand him.

Tate’s vocabulary was phenomenal… especially in certain spheres, like insects, trains, and heavy equipment. One day, driving down the street, I pointed out some road-work being done and enthusiastically described three kinds of excavators. Tate gazed out the window, then looked at me calmly and said, “Actuawee, Mama, a back-hoe.” And he was right.

So his speech was not a tip-off. Could be because he did have more hearing then, than he does now – his loss is progressive. Also, I like a quiet house, which might have helped him be able to hear our voices. It probably helped that I have always been big on eye-contact as a respect issue, even before we knew about the hearing loss. And not having cable TV was probably a plus, as we spend a lot of time with books. Frankly, I think it had a lot more to do with the grace of God, and with Tate himself than anything I did.

But, Tate didn’t have the tolerance for sitting on my lap and reading that Wyatt did. I may have read too quietly for him to hear most of it. He probably only bothered when he really liked the pictures, or he just wanted a big snuggle. :0) (And he’s a VERY snuggly kid!) In retrospect, he was probably loving the sensory input, making up for the communication he was missing.

There are a lot of things I’ll never know. Is Tate “like this” because of his hearing loss, or would he have been “that way” anyway?

Tate was a wanderer. When Wyatt was a toddler I could take him out in the yard while I worked in the flower beds and he would happily play near me, chattering to himself. Tate would hang around for awhile and then just launch! He wasn’t being defiant or sneaky, he’d just go. Did he do that because my back was turned and there was no communication? Or is he just a happy-go-lucky, confident child, off to explore his kingdom?!

So, really, we had no idea until he was about 3 and a half. One day a relative called to talk with the boys on the phone. Wyatt chattered away happily, but when I handed the phone to Tate I saw confusion and frustration. I could hear the voice at the other end, and he probably heard something, but it didn’t make any sense to him. I remember him saying, “Whaaaaat? Talk to me! TALK to me!”

That’s when I knew.


tammy said...

Thanks for stopping by Aiden's site. I love your posts! I totally agree with what you said, I would do anything to help any of my children, or myself, with any medical condition and we just feel so lucky there is this technology out there to help our son hear! I'd never even heard of cochlear implants until my son was born! What a new world I've entered and I'm grateful for every moment of it! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

Julie said...

Amen, sister! I have never understood the idea that using HA or CI is a "betrayal" of the deaf community. Each person - each family - gets to decide what will work best for them. And that false argument that God INTENDED him to be deaf, and you're going against his will REALLY chapped my hide!

I am VERY thankful we live in 2008, thank you very much! I am THANKFUL for technology like HAs and CIs... as well as more 'ordinary' technology, like minivans, email, and disposable diapers! :0)

(Oooooo, that was a lot of exclamation points.)

Nice to meet you :0)

Karen Putz said...

This is my first visit here (at least I think so with the number of blogs I read!) and I enjoyed reading about your boys. :)

Julie said...

Good to meet you, Karen :0)

Ambulance Mommy said...

Hi Julie,

Thanks for your encouraging words on my blog. This is a whole new world we are taking on with Ryan's diagnosis. We are totally overwhelmed, and so other moms going through it are so helpful! Thanks for letting us know your story!
Can't wait to stop by your blog again, and see what your boys are up to next!

leahlefler said...

I've heard that without the newborn screening program, kids with moderate losses aren't "caught" until the preschool years- I can see why! Though it makes me nervous about my older speech-delayed kiddo (who is probably *just* speech delayed, but we're going to verify hearing levels anyway).

And I am so grateful for modern technology! CI's, HA's, the internet... I don't get the idea that giving children the opportunity to use their hearing sense was a "bad" thing. The new generation of deaf kids are being raised with technology, so I have a feeling that "issue" will be a moot point fairly soon.

Laurie said...

Hello! Your comments about Tate are very interesting. My hearing loss was diagnosed at age 2 and my parents still don't know if I was born this way or if my hearing loss was progressive, like Tate's. He sounds like he is very alert and aware of his surroundings. It's amazing how our other senses "kick in" when one isn't working very well. I bet Tate also has a good sense of smell! :)

Nice to meet you! Thank you for your comment on my blog.