When Your Grandchild Is Hearing Impaired
BY KAYE CURREN
My granddaughter, Elodie, was born with moderate to severe hearing loss. I will never forget the day my daughter called from her first post-birth doctor’s appointment, crying. “Our baby will be deaf, Mama.” A sword went right through my heart.
“No! Oh my God, my heart is broken!” I blurted out, without thinking of my daughter’s distress.
“I know,” she said.
Because I live far away from my daughter and her family, I haven’t been able to be as involved with their challenges as I would like. I do ask how things are going every visit and Facetime.
“She doesn’t like her hearing aids. She has to wear a cap at daycare to keep them on,” my daughter tells me.
We’ve gone through stages. Elodie seemed prone to disease (as all daycare children are) but she was sick more than most, often with excessive congestion. She was also diagnosed with childhood asthma. Doctors gave hope she may grow out of it. But hearing-impaired children sometimes have a tougher time healing of childhood illnesses. Elodie’s parents have had some sleepless nights over her sudden breathing crises, several times in the hospital.
In spite of all that, with the help of a savvy physical therapist, she began to crawl and walk, maybe a little later than other children. My daughter found a speech therapist Elodie loves and her language skills began to grow.
Finally, one of Elodie’s doctors suggested inserting tubes in her ears as she believed removing excess fluid would help her with congestion and even help her hearing. Voila! It worked. Elodie came into this Spring bouncing. And this summer, she’s discovered the local splash pool. We have not seen one cold or breathing emergency all spring and summer. A combination of her maturing? And smart physicians. A wonderful progression.
The hearing aids stay in now and at two years old, Elodie knows quite a few words and she knows more signs than I do. (Guess you better catch up, Grandma Oma, I tell myself.)
As a child of the 50s, I remember how hearing-impaired classmates struggled so much more with learning and fitting in, so I am thrilled to see what giant steps have been taken for children with hearing loss. But more than that, I am excited to see that my grandchild is living a very active life. In fact, her parents are having trouble keeping up with her.