15 months and 3 days: That is how old my son was when I first mentioned to his pediatrician that I wondered if there might be something wrong with his hearing. I know this because I was recently looking through his medical records, and there it was written in plain English. I had forgotten about those early concerns. In response to my questions about my son’s hearing the pediatrician gave me a what was meant to be soothing talk, “Don’t worry, he’s a boy. He’s a second child. He will begin to talk when he is ready.”
3 years and 2 months: That’s how old my son was when he is diagnosed with hearing loss. The pediatrician’s old wives tales about boys being late talkers didn’t exactly pan out. He is fitted with bilateral hearing aids. The speech language pathologist that evaluates him tell us that he is functioning at the language level of an 18 month old. His father and I tour special schools where children with hearing loss learn how to talk and to listen. We try to get the deposit back from the nursery school where we had already enrolled him, but they don’t budge. I guess non-refundable really does mean just that. Our world isn’t exactly turned upside down, only tilted sideways for a moment.
5 years and 4 months: That’s how old my son was when he graduated from the Clarke School for Hearing & Speech in Manhattan. Where he spent two jam-packed years with an amazing and supportive school staff, the likes of which he will most likely never see again in his school career. He talks. He listens. He tries to understand what is being said, but sometimes he is unsure of exactly what is being asked of him. He heads off into the world of mainstream education. And his father and I wonder how he will adjust moving to a school where he will be the only child with hearing aids.
7 years and 7 months: That’s how old my son is right now. He is in 2nd grade at our local public school. He is just the same as any other second grader, except for the silver receivers and green ear molds that adorn his ears. The children in his class like having the chair feet covered with tennis balls, and they get a kick out of the pass around microphone that is connected to his FM he uses in class. He is happy. He is a good reader, he loves math, and plays any sport that has ever been invented, and some that he has made up on his own.
18 years and 2 months: That’s how old my son will be when he graduates from high school. I can’t predict what the future will bring but I know my son already doesn’t fit so many of the statistics and myths that float around about children with hearing loss. Current education wisdom clearly states that the ages 0-3 are the years that are most important for language development. Those are years in which my son missed the most. But I am amazed at all that he has accomplished and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon.