By: Sara Lundquist
This weekend was one of growth, acceptance, and most of all fun. Saturday morning our family woke up early and drove an hour and a half to a family event put on by Minnesota Hands and Voices http://www.handsandvoices.org/ This was a first for our family, frankly I was nervous as could be. I didn’t think we would fit in. Henry has a mild hearing loss and we were invited to this event. I just thought it would be to mild of a loss and we really didn’t belong but there was a tug at our hearts to go. Chad and I were in agreement that we should go to this event as a family. The kids on the other hand were soo excited to get to the YMCA where this event was going to take place. Running around and going swimming is an OK day to most kids.
This day was eye opening to me. I had to wait over a day to write this post just to let it all sink in and settle. There were about 6 families there and the kids were all great and became instant friends. The hearing loss levels ranged from mild to profound. I guess we did belong. There was such a feeling of acceptance, I have trouble getting the feeling into words. Everyone there understood hearing loss. They understood that the fan kicking in is going to prevent you from getting the information presented. They all understood that you need to face each other to get the full meaning of the conversation. It was just a feeling that there were no differences, there was such ease of conversation all day long. I wasn’t the only parent to a child there that had hearing aids. There was just a sigh of relief if that makes sense.
We had a session on educational IEP’s which was very interesting. That always seems to be a sticky subject of what to put in the IEP and what should be in there and what the school wants to put in there is not always on the same page. We got a lot of good information and eager to pass it on to friends. The session that made the most impact on all of us was our second session, hearing simulations. There is no perfect simulation that will show exactly how someone hears but what is out there is still powerful. Each child present had their audiograms put into the program and we listened to a voice, like a teachers voice. Now add some classroom noise and listen to normal hearing and then how your child hears, Powerful. I know how I hear but hearing how your child hears still hits you. Sitting at a mild loss doesn’t mean it is a mild difference. You had to strain to hear the teachers voice and not just sit and passively listen you have to concentrate and concentrate hard. No wonder this poor kid comes home and meltdowns. He has to work so hard to just get through the day. I looked over at my husband who I don’t think really understood what it is like. He had his head down and I saw a tear in his eye. It was a powerful model that I wish teachers, family and peers could hear.
The kids had a wonderful day!! They played BINGO, basketball, minute to win it games. The kids even made the decision to all eat lunch together, really nice to see. We ended the day with some of them going swimming together. Just a great day with new friends and new insights. My daughter even wants to learn ASL now to try and converse with a couple of the kids that use sign on her own next time instead of the interpreter doing it all for her.
To hear what your child hears is a powerful moment and one I won’t forget.