When he started school we wanted to make some sort of book or something to teach the other kids about what it’s like to have hearing loss or hearing aids so the teacher for the deaf brought in this book one day and they were all sitting on the carpet reading it and he jumped up and wanted to be involved in every part, showing what this piece does or this piece so he’s not shy about it at all which is just great.
She Loves Playing With Other Kids
She’s very social, period. It’s funny because the fact that she was deaf I don’t think ever mattered when she played with other kids. Now that she’s getting to that more of a preschool age, I think now we’ll see a little bit of a difference. It’s nice and it’s hard to find deaf peers in our community for her to play with. We’re actually lucky we have so many. But I’ve heard from other parents that that’s not the case. If she wanted to get together with her school friends, I’ve got to drive an hour to someone’s house and then I’ve got to stay. But she loves playing with the other kids.
In kindergarten she had a behavior problem. She couldn’t relate well to others. She was very frustrated. First grade was tough for her fitting in with the girls. She thinks there were cliquey girls in the first and second grade and given her experiences, I would say that girls were cliquey. She was very isolated so she really resorts to reading.
Hearing Aids & Others
Throughout his life we have tried to work with him and teach him that there are going to be people who won’t understand hearing aids and hearing loss. Now that he’s realized that, he’s trying to reach out to people. At one of his birthday parties his friends were all saying they want hearing aids because, you know, they’re cool! And now when we get new molds we let him pick out the molds so he’ll get camouflage or everything else. It’s almost like he’s a little teacher himself because he really tries to teach the other kids about his hearing aids and himself. And this year, they started to use the FM system and he really became the star of his class because what happened was that all of the kids wanted to use the microphone. It was just really nice to see the acceptance of most of the people who are around him which is something that I was always worried about.
I’m always amazed when kids come up to her and she says “These are my hearing aids, they help me hear.” There was a kid in kindergarten that would say to her that she had super ears. A lot of children I think have asked her “how can you hear with something in your ear?” and she’s very open and it’s the end of the discussion. As far as I know she’s never told me that she’s been teased. People definitely look. I think that’s the biggest thing, to be independent and to not let it hold you back from anything.
He Struggles With Social Relationships
He struggles with social relationships. He might have a little more than your average struggle with social relationships. It’s possible that he is in the direction of someone with a learning disability. It’s not a perfect match and we don’t really know if it’s his hearing loss causing that. What’s clear is that he relies so much on his auditory input that when it’s not good he struggles. He has trouble in group situations with other kids. He does quite well with grown ups who take the time to speak clearly and with preverbal children. With his peers he struggles quite a bit. He will often say the wrong thing or be too loud or too excited when other kids might moderate their behavior. He is aware that he is different and it is deeply humiliating to him when he makes a mistake. He’s aware he’s done it but he doesn’t know what he did that was wrong.
Social groups are hard for hard of hearing kids. He doesn’t gauge it right and he has a lot of anxiety because of it. He gets wonderful support weekly from a teacher of the deaf who is there for emotional support as well as academic support just in case he needs any pre teaching or clarifying any lessons. He is entering a sensitive time as a pre teen. He is unskilled at asking for help. Sometimes he thinks he’s asking but he’s not. We have lots of misunderstandings about that. There are certain social language conventions that a typical kid might know that he doesn’t. I don’t know whether that’s his hearing loss or something else. We’re teaching him those things in an intellectual way. He’ll learn it better out of a book or a website than by picking it up by listening to other people. He won’t pick up on incidental language or pragmatic language. He does well from adults. At school he gets supplemental help with something that is like social stories. They’re very helpful. They are very nice and clear and short. He gets a lot out of that. There is a lot of support for that within the school and that has been a good program for him.
He’s Very Involved With The Church
He connects with hearing friends at places like church. They get along just fine. At Sunday school, I try to sign and teach them a few words, I do. If they have a Christmas play, they’ll put Troy in a role that doesn’t have to have a voice, so he’s an angel or something, so he’s very involved at the church.
I wish they had some friends with hearing aids.
I Think She Feels Excluded
People were very polite and nobody was ever mean to her, but it was very much restricted to school. No matter how many times we invited people over it wasn’t reciprocated as much as you’d expect. Initially you really feel that pain for your child. On some level, my husband and I thought it was coming a little bit from the other parents, but it definitely was more work to talk to Stephanie. You really had to make sure she could see you. You had to repeat things. We thought maybe that was some of it and it might have been. Kids form little groups and despite the fact that over the years her speech has become quite intelligible she doesn’t have a best friend, which really bothers her. There’s one girl who is the closest she comes to having a best friend but who is a fairly popular girl but also a fairly quiet girl. She is very responsive. Sometimes she comes over and occasionally she calls Stephanie. That’s it. Even with this one girl it’s still initiated by us. I think this one girl is more tolerant.
Before Stephanie got her implant you really needed to repeat things a lot. She had to see your face, you had to keep repeating. I’m her mother and I get impatient with her sometimes. To expect that kind of patience from her peers is a lot. Initially I think she was fairly content having all the adult interaction. She got a lot of attention from my husband and me and all the people that work with her or even our friends who took a great interest in her. But she’s at the age where she’d rather be with her peers and she is very socially aware and she knows who the “popular” kids are and I think she feels excluded. That’s really hard.
Teen Mentorship Programs
She does not like being the only hearing impaired kid in class. I’m really making it a point to get her to the places where these kids are. There are several organizations. She has begun a teen mentorship program. They do a group mentoring experience. They take several hearing impaired kids and several hearing impaired adults and do some sort of recreational activity. That has been very powerful for Stephanie. They do very empowering activities.