Takes the Cake
Early intervention can sometimes make you feel like a hypochondriac.
I remember when we first discovered my daughter Follin had hearing loss at 3 months of age. I immediately jumped into action mode (akin to Gerard Butler in a predictable but “why is he still so darn hot?” movie) and became her biggest advocate. We visited ENTs and audiologists and therapists and insurance agencies and testing facilities more rapidly than you can say ‘give this mom a chill pill’ (which being that I am deaf myself, is not always all that rapidly). And since most moms feel like overly dramatic, valetudinarian matriarchs that pediatricians secretly laugh at behind closed doors because we think our babies are the first of their kind to ever have a runny nose… this certainly doesn’t aid our self image.
Let’s be honest: we are parents. If we weren’t blowing colds out of proportion or interpreting slight fevers as small pox, we would be doing our job wrong. And even though I’ve always been a ‘don’t gasp when your kid falls down’ kind of a mom (laid back possibly to a fault), there is simply no time to play around when it comes to hearing loss. How do I know this? Because my youngest daughter is living proof.
“Why don’t we wait to get her hearing aids,” an ENT doctor once told me, “so we can see if her hearing loss gets worse.”
At that time, Follin was almost six months old and still bypassing regular baby sounds in every way. In fact, she incurred the nickname “Grumby” in our family because the most she ever uttered were adorably swine-like grumbles and general disinterest in any one else’s voice (especially her own). Since I don’t typically subscribe to the notion of waiting for something to get worse before we try to make it better, pushing for immediate treatment, support and resources was something that I- and likely any parent- will never regret.
After receiving her hearing aids shortly after, Follin said her first words (“momma”… not coached, I swear!), and is now the most vocal three-year-old you’ve ever met. I know that a lot of the reason she has acclimated so well to her hard-of-hearing status is because she received so many therapies and provisions at such a young age that we were rarely playing catch up.
I, on the other hand, spent a lot of my childhood unaware of my progressive hearing loss, and now as a profoundly deaf adult regard my little munchkin with amazement. Sometimes she almost enunciates too much thanks to early intervention speech therapy (take that Woody Allen), and her young exposure to sign language has created a beautiful fusion between languages, worlds, peers and visual conceptualizations of the sounds she may be missing.
Am I that mom?
The one who drove a few doctors crazy? Who wrote one too many articles about parental advocacy (case in point) or gave friends a reason or two to roll their eyes? Absolutely. But who knows where our children would be to date if they didn’t have someone fighting for them, seeking services or imparting help from the very beginning.
So the next time you feel like one of those “crazy parents” whilst advocating for your child, I say… do it anyway. The benefits of early intervention are simply invaluable (giggling pediatricians be darned), and the success of our kids is something we never take for granted.
Yes, stand up on those soapboxes, parents! Speak your truth and stay strong, because one day your own little Grumby will have one person to thank (no matter what language they are using)…