Do you know what you need the most when your child is diagnosed with a special need? Yes, you need resources, therapists and a whole bunch of things, but most importantly, you need a strong support system. I know not what I would have done without the unfailing support of our families, especially my mother. Her birthday is in March so I thought in this post I will write about her role in Adith’s hearing journey.
- She was the first one who suspected that something was not right about Adith. Having raised 3 daughters and as a grandmother of 4, she felt something was amiss and encouraged me to take him for a check -up. We did it when he was 9 months old but the hearing loss could not be diagnosed then. It was inferred to be a minor developmental delay and I was advised to take a break from work. In 2012, we moved to the US and Amma visited us in December. She was concerned that Adith was not able to find her while they played hide and seek even though she was calling out to him and suggested that his hearing be checked.
- She was in India when we finally got him diagnosed. Without any delay, she met Shaji Aunty who runs a school for hard of hearing children in my hometown of Kottayam and passed on to me all the information that she could get from Shaji Aunty. She insisted that I need to let go of everything else and devote my time entirely for Adith and speak to him at all possible times.
- In July 2013, Amma came here to spend time with Adith and also relieve me from handling this single handedly. I remember she used to do chores when he slept and spend all waking hours with him, playing hide and seek, puzzles and coloring with him, talking all the while. Shaji aunty had advised to stick to one language so she was talking to him in English all the time and would sometimes pause when she did not get the right word. She had a lot of energy and never got tired.
- My mom did the same things with Adith as she did with all her other grandkids – playing “Eeshakottaram” and “Urumbu urumbu Paatta” fingerplays while I tried to do the exercises mentioned in Auditory Verbal Therapy books. We followed 2 very different approaches – but the combination worked. I was really surprised when I saw Adith responding to finger plays and trying to imitate what she did.
- I had seen a boy with cochlear implants in our community here and knew he went to DePaul School as well. I did not know anything more about him except that he was from Andhra Pradesh. One evening, Amma went to our community park with Adith and when she came back, told me that she saw the boy and his grandfather at the park. She was not sure if it was ok to ask about his hearing and implants so had not talked to them. But after thinking for a few minutes, off she went to the park again with a notepad and pen and came back with his Mom’s phone number. That night, I found myself talking to his Mom and knowing more about their journey. It was great to talk to a Mom with the same cultural background as us because we faced similar challenges here. My mother would never miss an opportunity to connect with people and get their advice.
- Even after she went back to India, during every phone call she would ask if I was spending quality time with Adith. Though I replied that its impossible to talk to him all the time, I admit that her constant reminders prompted me to spend a lot more time than I otherwise would have!
- She went to “Balavidyalaya”, Chennai, a reputed school for the deaf and hard of hearing and enquired about the therapy and training there. They would take only children below the age of 3 and Adith was turning 3 in a few months ( this is in 2014) so we had to take a decision quickly. Since we had already started therapy here and had heard how different an approach Balavidyalaya had, we decided to continue here.
- Though she was not an expert in using the internet (2 years back), she would read articles related to hearing loss and share them with me. Once she sent me a pdf in Malayalam that was published by NISH (National Institute of Speech and Hearing), Trivandrum. It was a very good one!
- After Nivedh was born, she used to remind me that I should balance my time and still attend to Adith’s needs. She was really sad that I had to go to hospital appointments and therapies with both of them and even suggested that Nivedh stay in India for a few months!
- She was extremely happy when I started writing this blog and has been very appreciative of it. In most posts, you would see her comments as long as the post itself, lol.
To summarize, my Mom has been the rock, constantly motivating me, cheering me and reminding me that I was the one who had the power to make him a “midukkan” (smart lad) and always said about “prarthana and prayathnam” (prayer and hard work) to make things possible.
Happy Birthday in advance, Amma..though growing up I was closer to Appa, now that I am a wife and a mother, I realize the magnitude of things you have been handling and how graceful and unassuming you have been all the while. Thank you for being you and for doing the things that you do! With each passing year, our love and respect for you keeps multiplying. May the good Lord be kind to us and let us have you for many more years!
– Chechi, Preetha and myself ( I am sure they feel the same way too!).