September is Deaf Awareness Month! Super David Joel's mom, Jessica, shared amazing information with us in our Facebook Group! We are so grateful that they share their story in such an educational way, and we couldn't wait to share it with you here!
- There is no one “right” way to communicate. Some choose sign, some choose spoken language, some choose lip reading, and some use a combination of methods (total communication). In our home we have chosen spoken communication supplemented with some sign. Our goal is for David Joel to learn spoken language and to learn ASL as a second language so that he can be bilingual and choose as an adult how he prefers to communicate.
- For those who have the option to utilize technology, some do and some don’t. It’s a personal decision. Technology can range from hearing aids to bone conducive hearing devices (Baha®) to cochlear implants. Devices are chosen based on the degree of hearing loss and the anatomy of the individual. Our tiny human utilized hearing aids until his hearing loss was to a point that cochlear implants were needed to be able to support him.
- Deaf does not mean dumb. Although David Joel’s hearing age is only a little over a year (how long he has had cochlear implants) that doesn’t mean that is where he is at cognitively. He shows his intelligence in ways other than verbalization and is progressing with his words every day! Also technology for ears is not like glasses, it’s not an immediate fix. Individuals who use technology must often “learn to hear” which takes time.
- Louder does not mean better. It’s about the clarity not the volume. When speaking with a deaf and hard of hearing (DHOH) person, don’t cover your mouth, ensure the individual is looking at you, identify their preferred form of communication, learn ASL and remember you might have to repeat yourself. David Joel has a microphone we use at school and at home to help with clarity in communication.
- Hearing loss can be genetic, caused by an illness, or due to structural abnormalities. Our tiny human’s hearing loss is genetic based on 2 very rare genetic mutations, one from his mom and one from his dad. Any child we have has a 1 and 4 chance of having both genetic mutations and there was a 25,000 and 1 chance David Joel’s dad and I would have met with these changes on this specific gene.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children are born in the US every year with hearing loss and a majority are born to hearing parents. We are proud of our boy and know he is wonderfully and perfectly made in His eyes.