Magazine article Volta Voices

Exploring the Psychosocial Aspects of Hearing Loss: A Parent's Perspective

Magazine article Volta Voices

Exploring the Psychosocial Aspects of Hearing Loss: A Parent's Perspective

Article excerpt

When the theme of "Exploring the Psychosocial Aspects of Hearing Loss" was selected for this issue, I knew I'd have much to contribute! I have considered the issues of self-esteem, identity and self-concept from the perspective of my now 8-year-old son Jonah who has hearing loss, as well as from the vantage point of his siblings. The emotions and issues have shifted over time and it's a continual journey.

I always say that I would give anything to spend five minutes in my son's head, to hear how he hears and truly understand how he feels about being deaf and wearing cochlear implants. Our family bolsters Jonah's image of his hearing loss, telling him he has "magic ears," and that he's a "hero" for getting cochlear implants and helping other kids learn all about them. We paint his entire picture of it in a very positive light. This has been easier to do given his young age.

A big part of me wonders how he will feel when he is age 12 or IS and older. When Jonah was about age 6, he asked me whether he'd "always have to wear his special ears," or whether, when he grows up, he will just "have normal ears like everyone else." Another time, I heard a boy at a baseball game say to Jonah, "you may be OK at baseball, but you'll never be really good with those ears." While I silently shed a tear, Jonah just looked away. He later knocked out a couple of homeruns, after which the boy never bothered him again. I asked him afterward whether he'd have wanted me to say anything to the boy, and I was beyond proud when Jonah told me he could "handle these things himself." I know that Jonah's hearing loss weighs on him from time to time. Overall he does a fabulous job of conveying a very positive attitude about his hearing loss. We have taught him that all people have differences and this is what makes us unique and positively perfect in our own unique way.

My own journey began with denial after Jonah failed his newborn hearing screen. After a follow-up otoacoustic emissions test (OAE) at 1 week of age and three auditory brainstem response (ABR) tests from 1 week to 3 weeks of age, I finally started to come to grips with the idea of hearing loss.

When he was 8 months old, Jonah had a fully sedated ABR and an auditory steady state response (ASSR) test, and we were told that his hearing loss had progressed to profound and we should seek cochlear implants. I began to feel empowered, elated and excited about his opportunity to access sound. The years of therapy and mappings following the cochlear implants, which Jonah received at 11 months of age, were exhausting and took a toll on the entire family. …

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