By: Sara Lundquist
My son has been a perplexing little boy the almost 6 years he has been alive. Henry was born 6 years ago in August. He has been a joy but we have had so many medical scares and trials in his short life. I sure know we could have it worse but I tend to think what is going on with your family or yourself at this time is real and shouldn’t be downgraded by the phrase, It could be worse.
Henry was a very reserved baby. He has a wonderful smile but he didn’t babble much, or interact with others. We would notice he liked to play alone and was very particular how he played with toys. Not much playing but organizing and lining them up. The other things going on with Henry were 105 degree fevers and febrile seizures that would come about every three weeks for a year. Just a very scary time in our lives.
About the age of 18 months our doctor started to get concerned. Henry was not babbling. At the age of 2 there were still no words. I had never heard a momma or dadda, just a look and a smile. This is when our doctor was focusing on autism and the nurse was focusing on hearing loss. Henry had his first hearing test at about 2.5 years old. He tested with a hearing loss but I was told to just wait and see he had just been sick. We have been going back to this audiologist every 6 months ever since. At about 3.5 years old he tested down in a moderate loss range and it was decided to put tubes in his ears and clip his tongue to see if language would come any earlier. The surgery was deemed a success. Language started to come and his hearing tests improved some. The doctor was still pushing the autism diagnosis so we waited a year for an appt and yes we were given the diagnosis. I look at him today and there are some little things I see that are on the spectrum but I am not sure if that is all what is there. The next couple years were Early Childhood Special Ed, more hearing tests, a grand mal seizure, neurology visits and enjoying our son.
We fast forward to this past year and kindergarten. Henry started the year failing the school hearing test. We were introduced to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing teacher. Henry wasn’t on her full caseload but a watch case. She visited his classroom and got the FM system working that every seat in the classroom would be a good seat for hearing the teacher. She was with us at the IEP meeting to explain how he was hearing and why the importance of talking to his face not his back. She told of not being able to passively listen to other children in the classroom but would have to focus on one to get the information being said. This was one of the greatest blows to me ever as a mom. I felt like a failure. How did I miss all of this. My mind had been so focused on autism, seizures, and IEP’s I never gave hearing loss much thought. HOW did I miss this!!! I grew up with mild hearing loss, I grew up in a family with hearing loss. I heard it for Henry and my mind just swept it under the rug. Everything else at the time seemed to trump this issue.
The school year has ended and summer school has begun. Henry is having a lot of problems learning to read, sounding out words and rhyming. The teacher is saying learning disabilities I have the gut feeling it is his hearing, or some of it. I feel I wasn’t there for him on this issue and I need to get educated about children and hearing loss. When I was at Starkey Hearing last month I was surprised with a hearing test and new hearing aids. I was so shocked at this point that I was left speechless when they asked to test my son and provide anything he would need. I denied their offer I just felt I was given so much already. I got home and told my husband about the offer and we decided yes it would be nice to have an opinion and test given by an audiologist that has no ties to our school. Low and behold they called us and again offered the hearing test and anything else he needed. Last week my husband, Henry, and myself travelled the 3 hours back to the Twin Cities and had Henry’s hearing tested.
I now know Henry has a mild hearing loss. We are just going to monitor his hearing at this point, no hearing aids. She agreed with the FM system and front center seating. I have emailed all the test results to our Deaf and Hard of Hearing teacher. She will be meeting with us before school. I sure know that it could be a lot worse than mild hearing loss but I also know how that can drop and how it can affect learning. I will be his advocate and be in his corner. I am Henry’s mom who happens to be hard of hearing, I hope I can be a good role model for him that life can be full.