We just found out today that SillyBilly has moderate hearing loss and will probably have to wear hearing aids permanently.
I’m actually rather philosophical about it, as I’ve known hearing-impaired people, technology has improved a lot, it’s not a relatively huge problem, etc. … but, it’s still quite a shock. Working was pretty shot today as I Googled everything and made lots of phone calls.
SillyBilly was tested after his long hospital stay at birth, at which time everything seemed normal (as normal as you can determine with a one-month-old). Then we didn’t have any clue until his 5th birthday checkup in September, where he “failed” at a certain range. Then that failure happened again at a follow-up test in December. Today’s test was with an audiologist. Next we see an oto-laryngologist to get an “official” determination.
Things we’re thinking about today: How often will we need to get new hearing aids as he grows? How hard will it be to keep them from being destroyed by little curious hands? How expensive are those tiny little batteries?
Things I’m not worrying about today: If he’ll be teased in any way. (I know I can help him see how teasing means nothing as far as his true self.) How to pay for hearing aids. (New York state has a wonderful program to help people pay for these things if they are stuck between not qualifying for Medicaid and not having private insurance coverage for them either.)
SillyBilly’s hearing loss is in the higher pitch range, which affects speech recognition. I’ve already called the school district to see if he can be evaluated by a speech pathologist. His verbal skills, at least anecdotally, are above average (see my Kid Talk category for evidence of that!), but later his classroom learning could be adversely affected. Today the audiologist said his speech recognition is still within the normal range, but that in a noisy setting, like a classroom, he could have trouble. We’ve already experienced that in the car: we are treated to him yelling “What??” constantly! Also certain sounds typically fall into the range he lacks, so that individual word recognition could suffer.
The other thing that hearing loss can do is affect the child’s behavior. He could appear to have “selective hearing,” could be tired out by the effort of listening, and could be perceived as distractable or inattentive. It will be interesting to observe for any changes once he can hear properly.
And the last little wrinkle: the audiologist suggested that Napoleona and I have a hearing test as well! She said that SillyBilly’s birth trauma might not be the cause of his hearing loss — sometimes there is a genetic component. It is true that I have some hearing loss in one ear (I’ve always attributed it to poor drainage damaging the middle ear), my mother now wears hearing aids, and her father had some hearing loss too.
I never thought that I would gain any parenting wisdom from Saturday Night Live, but Roseanne Roseannadanna was right: It’s always something!