A duty, nay, a privilege

I have a friend whose baby was born around the same time as D. Back then she didn’t have a car so when I drove into downtown to go to Whole Foods, she would go with me and stock up on the things our neighborhood stores didn’t carry. We got some healthy food and good company, our babies got a car ride and a ride in a cart.

Once on a dark winter afternoon, as we sat in traffic that inched us closer to home, she told me her son, a year older than Lei, had been diagnosed with ADHD.

I wish I remembered exactly what she said about it, but all I remember is the black sky above and the rain hitting the windshield as I sat there thinking, “That sounds just like Lei.” Continue reading

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Look not upon the seed, look upon the tree

When I picked the color for Lei’s first hearing aids, it was a major philosophical decision: hide or flaunt?

Did I want her to blend in or stand out? Did I hope for her to be mistaken for normal? Did I dream for her deafness to go unnoticed or celebrated?

What do you think I chose? Her first hearing aids were bright pink.

Why did I think about it so deeply? My mom.

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William Shakespeare’s guide to communication options for your deaf child

William Shakespeare portrait

So you’ve discovered your infant or child doesn’t hear the way you do. Congratulations! You’re at the start of a journey that will take you places you have probably never been before. In the words of William Shakespeare,

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

William Shakespeare portrait
The Bard’s advice: To thine own self be true.

One of the first big decisions you are probably faced with is how you will communicate with your child. You are probably getting a lot of advice from doctors, audiologists, speech therapists and other “experts.” But the real experts here are parents, and those are the people you must speak to about your options. Continue reading

Doctors I’d like to kick, or why Lei didn’t get a newborn hearing screening

When I took Lei to her three-month well check-up and told our family doctor that she hadn’t had a newborn hearing screening yet, he checked it for me right there in the exam room. What a cool guy.

He stood in front of me. Lei perched on my lap, facing him. He extended his right hand to Lei’s right ear and rubbed his fingers together so that a very slight shhhh sound was produced. She turned towards his hand. After repeating this highly scientific evaluation on the left, he pronounced a finding of 100 percent normal hearing.

“She can hear just fine, see?”

I’m not a violent person, but I do sometimes fantasize about finding him and kicking him in the head.

Because that is not a hearing test. It’s not. It’s not even a screening. It’s really a test to see if a baby will be curious about why you have put your hand outside their peripheral vision and what you’re doing over there.

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Speech bananas and moonbeams

One day when my daughter, Lei, was 16 months old, I found myself chatting with another mom and her daughter, who was within a month of Lei’s age. The girls were playing and this other mom and I were making the kind of small talk that moms of young children can make even if they don’t know each other well.

When the other little girl began to fuss, her mom asked her, “Are you hungry?”

The girl nodded.

My jaw dropped.

Lei had never ever done that. It was a great day when she pointed at something. Although she clung to me so much we called her “monkey baby,” she spoke zero words, didn’t nod, shake her head, answer to her name or follow simple commands. She didn’t consistently make eye contact and had certainly never answered a question.

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