This weeks interview is with Brandi from The Amabiscas on her son’s hearing loss.
My name is Brandi Amabisca. My husband and I have been together for thirteen years and we have two children. Grayson is three years old and Sawyer is just six months. We live just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. I’m a stay at home mom and a full-time blogger. I blog over at The Amabiscas. There you can find everything from family friendly recipes to beauty tips and tricks. I also document my life navigating motherhood, which includes Grayson’s hearing loss. He was diagnosed in early 2017 and has worn hearing aids ever since.
How did you first find out about Grayson’s hearing loss? I actually didn’t have any sucpisions of loss until he was around 9 or 10 months old. He passed his newborn hearing screening, so I had no reason to even consider that he couldn’t hear us. When it came time for him to start talking and forming sounds, I noticed that he wasn’t imitating us properly. Was he not hearing the sounds correctly? I also noticed that it some times seemed like he didn’t hear me when I called him, and he liked to put his fingers into his ear whenever he used his voice. (I think that this helped him to hear himself more clearly). His diagnosis took even longer…it was months and months of trying to convince doctors to test his hearing. It was hard, it was exhausting, and my nerves were shot by the end of it. I have never been so disappointed in doctors and their lack of attention to detail, listening to a patient’s concerns, and just trusting a mother’s intuition. When he was 18 months old I finally got the referral that I had been fighting for, and after trying and not completing a few hearing tests–we had a diagnosis. Grayson has Mild-Moderate Bilateral Sensioneural Hearing Loss.
What were your first reactions? Honestly? Relief. Once I was through all of my anger at doctors, feeling like it was somehow my fault, and mourning his being “normal”, I was relieved. Him having a diagnosis meant that he would finally be able to get the right help, the help that he needed! I wrote a little bit about my feelings immediately after his diagnosis here.
What resources have you utilized for Grayson? The resource that I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without is TEIS (Tennessee Early Intervention Services). It’s a free service to parents of ANY special needs child (Autism, Sensory Processing Disorders, Hearing Loss, Speech Delays, etc). They covered every single thing that our insurance didn’t cover. Did you know that, in most states, insurance providers aren’t required to cover things like hearing evaluations and hearing aids? Even with a confirmed hearing loss diagnosis. Neither did I. The day that we found that out was super fun. TEIS provides from Birth to Age 2, so while Grayson has since aged out of TEIS, he was able to get his first pair of hearing aids, all evaluations and therapies, and tuition to his Hearing Preschool 100% covered by TEIS. They also periodically come to the home to provide support and make sure that you’re utilizing every resource available to you. Of course, this is localized to Tennessee, but a list of Early Intervention Services by state can be found here.
What was the process like for getting his hearing aids? Relatively painless! After the confirmed diagnosis, we had a Hearing Aid Selection Appointment. This is where we were shown the types of hearing aids, learned about each one, and picked his pair. We then had a Mold Making appointment, where they use a hardening substance placed inside the ear to make a perfect fit. This will ensure that the hearing aids are custom and comfortable. (Molds need to be replaced every few months, especially in children, while their ears are growing and changing). The mold and hearing aids took a few weeks to come in, and then we had the Hearing Aid Dispensing Appointment. This was where we had the hearing aids put on and turned on! I’m not sure that he noticed a difference immediately, but I remember going outside and him being able to hear birds and all of the little sounds that he was unable to hear prior. Man, my Mom heart swelled up that day. I wrote about those appointments as well, here.
How did Grayson react to the hearing aids? Of course, it was a bit of an adjustment. They were a little hard for him to get used to, they take up quite a bit of space on the ear. Once he realized that they helped him to hear more clearly though, he left them alone. Now, the only time they bother him is when he has wax that the mold pushes into the ear canal. He does have to have wax professionally removed periodically.
Have the hearing aids helped? Definitely! While Grayson’s loss is quite mild, the hearing aids have helped him to clearly hear sounds that he wasn’t hearing correctly before, in relation to his speech. Because of this, his speech has greatly improved, he tests well ahead of hearing peers his age.
Do you have any advice for parents going through the same thing? My biggest piece of advice, something that I wish I had learned so much sooner, is just stay calm. Having a Hearing Loss Diagnosis is NOT the end of the world. In a lot of ways, it’s just like needing glasses. Glasses are a lot more mainstream, of course, but they help us to see. Just like hearing aids help us to hear. There are so many amazing resources out there, doctors and audiologists who genuinely want to help you and see your child succeed. Also–remember there are so many successful adults out there with hearing loss.