My little one Nivedh is 20 months old now. This is the age at which Adith was diagnosed with hearing loss. I remember 3 years back when I told his pediatrician I was concerned about his hearing, he asked me to check if Adith would get a ball without me pointing to it. And I thought to myself – surely he is not going to do that..was he old enough to do that? Adith was not comprehending much or following directions at that time that I was certain that he was not going to do this without me pointing to the ball. Although one side of me was worried of his hearing, the other side convinced me into thinking that he probably was just not old enough for that. That, as with the other milestones of rolling over, crawling and walking, he just needed more time for this too. All of my baby sitting experience did not help me uncover the truth about his hearing. But now, at 20 months, Nivedh is comprehending, following directions and saying so many words that prompts me to think that if Adith had been my second child, I would have detected his hearing loss earlier.
But then there is a time for everything and I am glad that we could realize this at least then. In fact, the constant fear that he has already lost considerable time has pushed me to work hard the last few years! But honestly, the difference between a hearing child and a hard of hearing child is that of night and day. I am amazed by how quickly and effortlessly Nivedh is picking up things. I hear a new word from him every few days and his expression changes with even a mild change in my tone. I haven’t seen this with Adith so far.
In this post, I am sharing some of the differences I found between my 2 boys.
The first thing I noticed was how easily Nivedh could wake up from his sleep. If I enter the room and the floor creaks beneath my feet, he begins to fidget. Any thing slightly louder than that is sure to wake him up.
Secondly, he alerts to familiar sounds quickly. While having his breakfast in the high chair he would stop and turn his head on hearing the garbage truck outside. Both the boys could be playing together in the living room and Nivedh can be seen getting up and running to the door on hearing the door knob turning when Loveson returns from work. No matter where he is inside the house, when I open the bathroom door after a shower, he would come running, laughing aloud. Today, he was putting on his sandal to go out and suddenly heard the song “Chinnamma” (from the movie Oppam). He immediately paused, kicked off his sandal and ran back to the living room to watch the song. All these might seem trivial, everyday reactions to you but I find it all very amusing!
He spontaneously says “aeyo”(hello) when Loveson comes back from work. He has also started to say 3 syllable words – appcha, ammanji (ammachi), ogati (yogurt), pothetho (processor), chappappa (chapati) etc. He also says “off” as I turn off the lights and I cannot help thinking that it has been over 15 months that I have been working on ‘f’ with Adith now!
I also wanted to share an incident that astonished me in particular. I have mentioned in an earlier post that my parents lost their bags when they arrived here. They did get it a week later and there were some food items that had to be sorted out. My mother asked me for some ziplocs and Nivedh who was playing in the vicinity while she said this, raced to the bedroom and pulled out ziploc bags from under the bed. I don’t remember telling him about ziplocs! He probably overheard it during one of my conversations with Adith or Loveson. I was also painfully reminded of how much information Adith is missing out this way. The chances of him learning through overhearing is definitely very less.
In one issue of “The ENDEAVOR”, a publication from the ASDC (American Society for Deaf Children), there is an article titled “Air Force One: A study on Incidental Learning“. It is about a survey done on 80 people in which 40 were hearing and 40 had lost their hearing at a young age. They were shown a white paper in which “AIR FORCE ONE” was written and asked to spontaneously express what came into their minds. While all of the 40 hearing people relayed that it was the plane in which the US President flew, only 6 of the other group could convey the same. The remaining 32 people however, could convey that it was ‘military’, ‘first military’ or ‘something to do with military’. The 6 people who did say the answer recalled how they learned it and they were all instances of incidental learning. Here is the last paragraph from the article :
“As implied above, incidental learning plays a big role in the base fund of information we possess. Yet I, as a hearing individual, can learn several things daily on my short commute from my gym to my office by just listening to my car radio. Multiply that by a decade and you have not even begun to uncover the amount of incidental learning a person who is deaf or hard of hearing must make up to have the knowledge base and fund of information to be as competitive and as responsive as those who can hear.”
I believe the survey had individuals without hearing devices but I think that it might hold good (up to a certain degree) even for individuals with implants because hearing is still challenging in certain situations.
I am in a phase of some great realizations, thanks to my hearing child. And these realizations are good because it helps me to understand the differences and hopefully help in bridging the gaps!
Thanks for reading!
You can read the full article “Air Force One: A study on Incidental Learning” written by Doug Dittfurth here.