We love it when people share their hearing loss stories with us on social media. Our community often provides comfort, encouragement, inspiration and support for others in similar situations.
Recently we connected with one of our Instagram friends who we think has a wonderful story to share. I had the opportunity to chat with Kellie, the mom of 7-month-old Gabby, about a video she shared with us. This is their story:
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Jill: Thanks for connecting with us on Instagram! Can you tell us a bit more about Gabby’s hearing loss?
Kellie: While we were in the hospital when Gabriella was born, she failed both hearing screenings. After that we took her to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for another screening and two Baer tests, all of which came back showing that she was profoundly deaf in both ears.
Learning sign language with your deaf or normal hearing baby
We started learning sign language as soon as we found out about Harry’s hearing loss.
Even though Harry has a cochlear implant and can hear our voices, we wanted him to know the basics of sign language for the future. Not only to better communicate with him, but also to be a part of the deaf community. He is still a deaf person after all, and he may very well have deaf friends who only use sign language to communicate.
Not only is sign language useful for children with hearing loss, but its also great for hearing children to learn as well. Even when they are very young, a baby’s motor skills and ability to make hand gestures are far more developed than their ability to speak, which makes it really very easy for them to learn the basics of sign language. You will be so shocked at how fast a little baby can start to copy different hand gestures, eventually realizing they can use their hands to tell you what they need! Imagine if your baby could tell you what they want via signing instead of screaming and wailing!
With help from our Teacher of the Deaf, Harry he had a whole range of signs he was using to communicate with us by the time he was around 9 months old.
We were still getting used to the fact we had a mini human who was awake most of the night when we found out that Harry was deaf. He was just 7 weeks old when he failed the Newborn Hearing Screening.
After a series of tests and a very intensive ABR he was confirmed as profoundly deaf with no threshold of hearing. The emotions hit us like a steam train and immediately we felt worried and scared for what the future would hold for our perfect baby boy. I remember that day so clearly; when my partner Scott and I held each other close and cried ourselves to sleep. We almost had to mourn what our idea of a perfect child was, and come around to the fact that our experience as first time parents was going to be a little different than what we had expected.
We spent a good few days feeling extremely upset and worried for our little chap. Our baby was the only deaf person we had ever met. It was a completely new thing to learn about. I started to panic when I left him alone to sleep, as I thought he would wake up and be scared because he couldn’t hear us. It took me a while to realize that actually Harry had never known any different, and he shouldn’t be scared because to him the world had always been silent.
It was as quick as the day after Harry’s diagnosis when we had a phone call from our local Teacher of the Deaf. The amount of information being fed to us was quite overwhelming, but comforting knowing a support system was already in place. She came over soon after to introduce herself, and we immediately felt confident that our son wasn’t going to be forgotten about or left behind. She explained that she would help us with his development from Day 1 until he finished his education, which filled us with hope and a lot more confidence than we had initially had.