“When I first learned of George’s hearing loss, I cried,” says Jessie. “But the tears didn’t last. He was healthy in every single way and his hearing loss didn’t change how we viewed him, he was and is absolutely perfect.”
After being reassured that it was normal for George to have failed his “newborn hearing screening test” multiple times, Jessie had a non-sedated ABR test done to confirm whether or not he actually had hearing loss. George was diagnosed with bilateral mild to moderate hearing loss and was fitted shortly after with his bright blue Phonak Sky B hearing aids.
“I realized how this ‘difference’ about my son was special, it made him unique and powerful,” Jessie explains. “My husband (David) and I decided we would always let George know his ‘difference’ made him special, that nothing would get in his way. We chose bright blue hearing aids specifically for this reason.”
Jessie has the audiogram from the ABR test hanging on the family’s refrigerator. She uses it as a simple way to explain her son’s hearing loss their friends and family. This has served well when they ask how much George can hear because Jessie can show them that they are different frequencies that George doesn’t hear.
George has been wearing his hearing aids for about a year now, and Jessie has been keeping his ear molds every step of the way. She says, “they represent all the changes and growth for both himself and me as his mother. They represent his journey and more importantly his ability to overcome obstacles.”
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George has been wearing his hearing aids for just about a year now. He did not get fitted for his first pair until he was almost 2 months old, but we learned of his hearing loss the day he was born. . Pictured above are all of Georges ear molds, the dark blue were his very first pair (and yes im the mom that saved my childs ear molds). These are milestones for me. They run counterclockwise in size and showing off the brand new pair he got today. . His hearing loss has presented unique challenges at times but has never stopped him from doing what he wants to do. This is something I often share with parents whose children are newly diagnosed. Your child will be unstoppable. Nothing will hold them back. They can do whatever they want to do. And that is FACT. . Advocacy comes hand in hand with a child with a disability. Be their biggest cheerleader. It was in advocating for George, that got him an interpreter for swimming lessons.. which start up again next week and I cannot wait to see Mike (our interpreter). We are choosing a bilingual approach for him and supplement with ASL. . George currently can say, “mama, dada, merle (our dog), go, done and more”. He can sign the following words in ASL , “more, mom, dad, cracker, snack, want, please, hot cookie, eat, no, where, milk, shoes, book and help.” We are really proud of him. . . . . #ig_motherhood #pixel_kids #nikon #momswithcameras #honestmotherhood #cameramama #magicofchildhood #photography #baby #phonak #georgedarlington #portland #son #momlife #lifeison #candidchildhood #pnwkids #jj_its_kids #theartofchildhood #hearingloss #hearingaids #cm_health #advocatelikeamother
George is not the only one overcoming obstacles. Jessie also has her own obstacles she’s had to overcome. Her ability to overcome obstacles just may have prepared her for what was to come with George.
Jessie and her husband, Dave, have chosen to communicate with George via verbal communication and ASL. This, however, is not Jessie’s first time using ASL or learning about the deaf and hard of hearing community. She took ASL classes in college after she learned that taking a foreign language was a requirement. Jessie grew up with a learning disability throughout her early education and was exempt from foreign languages. ASL was the first language she learned.
“I was interested in ASL, but I also was fearful of trying to learn a new language, when English seemed hard enough as it was,” Jessie says. “After the first class, I told my ASL professor of my learning disability and the reason I was in his class. We worked together to make sure I would feel confident. It was surprising to me how quickly I picked up ASL and how much of it I remember to this day. I learned a lot about HOH and Deaf culture. Knowing ASL has given me a lot of confidence in caring for my son in a way that’s hard to describe, but I’m incredibly grateful for my education and what it has bestowed upon me.”
“Knowing ASL has given me a lot of confidence in caring for my son in a way that’s hard to describe, but I’m incredibly grateful for my education and what it has bestowed upon me.”
Jessie continues her ASL education today by participating in weekly instruction through their early intervention program. Dave is learning alongside George. George signs about 15 different words and verbalizes about four or five.
“We are choosing a bilingual approach because we want George to have options and the gift of being bilingual, it will provide greater opportunities for him to communicate with so many people,” Jessie describes why she is teaching her son ASL.
Marking milestones and learning to overcome obstacles together have been the foundations for Jessie and her family as they navigate George’s hearing loss journey. For parents of newly diagnosed children with hearing loss, Jessie wants you to know, “it’s going to be okay, your child is perfect the way they are. They will exceed your expectations. Have hope and do your best! They need you and you need them.”