I never fully appreciated the sense of hearing until my 18-month-old son was diagnosed with severe/profound hearing loss. Toby was born with hearing, but for some reason lost most of it when he was 12-15 months old.
Unfortunately, this was a critical time for speech development. In addition, we believe he went nearly nine months without hearing. So now we’re playing “catch up” on time lost.
Toby is 3 now and each day brings a new adventure – and challenges. Most recently, we enrolled Toby in swim classes. As a mom, you can always use an extra set of hands, but that has never been as true as when you’re in the pool with a hearing-impaired child. I just can’t sign and hold Toby at the same time! So, we adjust.
Although we would never have wished this for our son, we’re so very thankful. We’re painfully aware that it could always be more serious. I always say, “At the end of the day, I have my son.” And his hearing loss and speech delay is manageable.
And we’re thankful that he has a wonderful team of professionals at Akron Children’s, namely his audiologist, Marge Whiteman, and his ENT doctor, Anton Milo. Nothing can compare to the peace a parent receives knowing that their child is in good hands.
I still remember the moment when Toby said “love you” for the first time. It brought tears to my eyes. As long as I had waited to hear him say those words, I’m continually impressed by the more powerful experience of Toby signing “I love you” after he removes his hearing aids every night before he goes to bed.
As someone who loves words, I could never have imagined the power of the unspoken ones. It’s true. Communication is more than language.