Disclosure: This post made possible through the support of Cochlear. All opinions are my own.
Can you imagine a world with no sound? Never hearing your husband say, “I love you” or your baby’s first giggle? Can you imagine never hearing birds singing, wind blowing or waves crashing into the shore? Imagine never being able to hear the voice of your mother or your toddler whisper, “I love you, Mommy.” I can and the thought terrifies me.
You see, for years when I was a little girl, I suffered from chronic ear infections which led to permanent hearing loss in my right ear. It’s only considered mild hearing loss but it made things challenging for me, as a small child and, to some degree, even now.
For instance, it’s hard for me to hear people when they are not looking directly at me when they’re speaking. It sounds like mumbling to me. It’s a little like hearing through a window or listening under water. Of course, as time has gone on, I’ve acclimated to my deficit. Most of the time I don’t even think about the fact that I’ve lost some of my hearing.
But I notice that I feel the need to concentrate when I listen, so sometimes when people are talking to me it seems like I’m staring at them when all I’m really doing is listening. If you’ve met me in person, you’ve probably noticed this. My hearing loss happened over time but we found out the loss was permanent when I was 6-years- old. This led to 5 years of speech therapy in which I was taught to slow down, enunciate and listen.
I hated having to go to speech therapy when I was in elementary school because it made me feel like an outsider but honestly, it taught me valuable lessons about communication that I’ve carried with me for my whole life; valuable lessons that I’ve used in parenting my own daughters; the true value of not only listening but hearing what others are saying.
I learned the importance of slowing down to tune in to my children, talking more with my daughters and taking turns to make sure that not only are my children heard but understood. I make it a point not to speak at my children but with them.
My experience also made me sensitive to my children’s speech when they were young. As a result of my hearing loss and years in speech therapy, I made it a point to be aware of my children’s social cues while communicating because some things were beyond their vocabulary. If I ever felt the need for concern, I would simply bring it up to their pediatrician in private.
All of this has built a foundation for trust and open dialogue with my daughters that I hope continues to grow throughout their lives. I don’t think I would be as attentive of a mother or informed about hearing and speech issues had I not experienced them myself and, for that, I’m grateful.
In the end, I may have some mild hearing loss but I didn’t have any learning disabilities or speech delays because of it but some children are not so lucky. Thankfully, technology has made it possible to help some children and adults.
Cochlear, in operation for over 30 years, is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, providing products (cochlear implants, bone conduction, and acoustic implants) that are designed to treat a range of moderate to profound types of hearing loss. They’ve helped over 450,000 people worldwide have access to sound.
Cochlear knows communication is the crux of everything in parenting and an essential step in every parent’s journey is working on speech, language, and developmental milestones and they want to make that journey as successful as possible.
What would you do if the impossible were possible?