Hello, my name is Lydia Dennehy. I am the first person in my family to have a hearing loss in early childhood, although my grandfather and one uncle had lost their hearing in their 30’s. When my son was born I was very happy that he passed his newborn hearing screening. I thought that if I took good care of his ears he would be all set at least until adulthood.
When my son was 2 ½ my husband noticed that he started holding all of his noisy toys right up to his ears, I thought he was just curious about how they worked. My husband said I should get his ears checked ‘just in case’. I went ahead and took him but didn’t expect any bad news. Unlike me he had only had two mild ear infections as a baby.
I was devastated to see that first audiogram. I felt guilty that I had ‘given’ this hearing loss and not spotted the signs first. Looking back, I saw that he had stopped enjoying story time unless he was sitting in my lap or the librarian’s lap. This sadness quickly turned in to a fierce determination that he would have the best technology to help him, and that he would not grow up as isolated from other children with hearing loss as I had. I also remembered that hearing loss had not stopped me from learning to play an instrument, a foreign language, going to college, traveling to other countries, or becoming a teacher. I even got to fly a plane, although someone else had to use the radio and relay instructions to me.
I am grateful for the advances in technology for supporting hearing and communication. As a friend pointed out to me, all kinds of people have stuff in their ears and on their heads now. I feel fortunate that we know so much more about hearing, communication, and learning now. I am excited to share that journey with other families.