Thursday, March 4, 2010

Are You Just Hearing??

Recently - as in minutes ago, I was explaining to a few people about AJ's hearing.

As an infant and young toddler, AJ had chronic ear infections, one right after another. Around the time he was two we decided what was best for him was to have tubes put in and his tonsils and adenoids removed. There were hearing tests done prior to the surgery. The results were not great, not bad, kind of just what we expected. He had 40% hearing loss in one ear and 60% hearing loss in the other. All in all he had 50% of his total hearing. The expectation was also that after the surgery the hearing would return. Maybe not 100% but we should see a "good improvement". That day never came. AJ is eight now, and still only has 50% of his hearing, the school has notes from his doctors stating that he has such hearing loss, to prevent little notes from coming home after the state mandated school hearing tests. They will send something home if there is change in the results. I don't anticipate that note will ever come home. AJ has never known in his short life what it is like to hear at 100%, he has always been able to communicate well, there are some words that you have to repeat to him and have him repeat back to you, because he just doesn't hear the word the way it is said. The word "supposed" comes to mind, he says "opposed" "yes" and "yea" were "la" for a very long time.

No worries though, he is doing quite well in school. Mastering and exceeding all of the areas, thriving to learn more. We have been incredibly lucky with the teachers that he has, they continue to push him to expand his mind and keep him interested in school and learning. At the beginning of each year, usually on the "Meet the Teacher" day, I talk to the teacher about his hearing. AJ does not know I have this conversation. I ask the teacher not to treat him any differently than any of the other children, don't rearrange seating because of his hearing. I always ask for the teacher to allow him the room to communicate a problem.

He undoubtedly does, every time. He lets the teacher know that he can not sit with his back to her, he needs to be able to see her lips when she is talking. He has learned to pay close attention to the kids around him to see if there is something going on. When I read this all and think about it in my head it seems as if he is so different than the other kids. He is not, other people are unaware of his hearing loss. He does not look play or speak any differently than any other kid his age. I think he thinks about things a bit differently, and I would only imagine that he actually hears things differently.

Last night he told me very matter of factly, "Mom, i am a better listener that you are,"

Sitting there, knowing what I know about his hearing I just knew that wasn't true. I responded, "Anthony, you are a good listener, but your ears don't hear as well as mommy's"

He retorted, "Your right, my ears don't hear as good as yours, but I listen better than you."

"What?" The kid had me puzzled for sure.

"Mom, you hear everything going on, you can hear us all at the same time, but you always say 'I can't hear you' or you ask 'what did you say' I don't hear I listen, there is a difference"

Aside from the fact that I was "hearing" Jay in the other room saying "Mom, you just got told!!" I was "hearing" what AJ said. And that got me to thinking, how many times am I siting there at home, at work where ever and while I am hearing what is going on, am I actually listening? Am I comprehending, understanding and empathizing with the world around me? Or am I just hearing noises as the world passes me by?


JD said...

In describing AJ, you just described my hearing loss.

In sharing his wisdom, you just blessed me with a beautiful reminder that I need to make sure that I don't let my difficulty with hearing get in the way of my focus on really listening.

And a little child shall lead them....

Deb in MD said...

Great post, we sure can learn a lot from our kids, and each other.

Erin Lutz said...

What a great post. He is a wise little boy!