Life on the LSL Journey: Fears and Celebrations of Moms Like You
Happy Mother’s Day! As the mom to a child with hearing loss on the LSL journey, you’re no stranger to the ups and downs of the journey toward listening and speaking. However, because of your support, your child can learn to listen and talk like their hearing friends, putting them on a path to all sorts of future success! Today we want to recognize all the mothers who have done what it takes to make LSL dreams come true for their children.
The news that your child is deaf or hard of hearing can be devastating. Although every mother reacts differently, common responses to grief include sadness, guilt, isolation, anger and fear of a loss of dreams that may go unfulfilled. Amidst these feelings, you might question your vision for a ‘normal’ life for your child that includes hearing your voice, listening to music, attending mainstream school, participating in sports, going to college, having healthy social relationships, the list goes on and on.
Moms in the Hearing First Family Support Community shared what they worried their children would never be able to do and what marked the turning point when they realized their children’s dreams could come true. Here’s what they said:
My fear: Honestly in the early days, I was worried my daughter would never hear me say or be able to say, "I love you."
My turning point: The turning point was when we found our oral program and my daughter received her first CI. We were sitting in a parent session looking at various winter things. The therapist pulled out a snowman and she immediately said "moman" repeatedly. We had only looked at the snowman the previous week and being in Arizona we weren't around snowmen, so I knew that she had picked it up and stored that word. That's when I knew everything was going to be OK.
My fear: Wondering, ‘Can my child play sports with a hearing loss?’
My turning point: Being bound and determined that, with a bunch of hard work and dedication to listening and spoken language therapy, our son could do anything his hearing peers could do, including sports. I remember being on the early side of the diagnosis and wondering what his future will look like, and here I sit with my 15-year-old son, anxiously awaiting the beginning of high school baseball season. Anything is possible for our kids with hearing loss!
My fear: One of the reasons we chose my son’s name was because it means laughter. I remember holding him at night with tears streaming down my cheeks thinking he would never know what laughter sounds like.
My turning point: Realizing he could learn and love to laugh. Not only does he know what it sounds like, that boy LOVES to laugh, and it's music to BOTH his ears and mine!
My fear: My sign language knowledge is minimal, and I was afraid that I would need to learn how to sign to communicate with her. I recall the day after finding out about my daughter's hearing loss, picking her up from her crib, looking out the window and pointing to a bird in a tree and signing "bird" to my little girl. I remember thinking, how could I learn and teach a new language at the same time? She was my youngest of 4 children, so I wondered how I was going to handle raising 3 hearing kids and 1 deaf child. I was terrified.
My turning point: The turning point was realizing that with proper amplification and therapy, my daughter could learn to listen and use spoken language. I studied the importance of neuroplasticity and how critical the time was now to teach her listening and spoken language. I built a network of other parents with children who have hearing loss and use spoken language. With time, hard work, and sacrifice, my daughter has blossomed. She wants to use spoken language, she wants to play with her siblings and neighbor kids, and she wants to listen to me reading her books.
My fear: I remember thinking my sons would never be able to fully hear music or play an instrument.
My turning point: When one of my sons asked if he could play the fiddle. We signed him up for lessons and he became obsessed with “Irish Washerwoman” and could play it perfectly! I knew then, anything was possible for him.
My fear: When my daughter was first diagnosed, I was so worried she wouldn't hear all the sounds of the natural world-- the birds, the ocean, the rain, the wind, etc. It broke my heart! We go to the beach every summer, and, initially, I assumed that her hearing aids would hinder her experience.
My turning point: My turning point was when my daughter learned how to point to her ear to tell me she heard something. What a relief for us! Now when we go to the beach, on walks or when the rain pours on our metal roof, she points and says, "I hear it (the specific sound)." There is nothing better!! I know she’s hearing the sounds of the natural world and I am so grateful! And at the beach, she runs around with her cousins, splashes in the water, and rolls in the sand and it is awesome!
My fear: I worried my daughter wouldn't sing.
My turning point: She started singing spontaneously around 2 years old and now at 2½ she's already making up her own songs!
A Mom’s Dreams Can Be Made Real
Every May we celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month and the endless LSL possibilities for children who are born deaf and hard of hearing. However, one of our biggest celebrations this month is for the moms who have done what it takes for their children on the LSL journey, doing everyday tasks such as:
- Driving to audiology appointments
- Maintaining hearing technology
- Partnering with EI and LSL professionals
- Integrating LSL into every waking moment
- Facilitating seamless transitions
- Keeping hearing technology on during all awake hours
- Holding high expectations
- Navigating challenges
- Celebrating winning moments
Thank you to all moms who are making the dreams of children with hearing loss real! Happy Mother’s Day!
Blog post originally appeared on the Hearing First blog, Moms Just Like You Share Dreams Come True.