This week is a beautiful reminder how united the deaf community is, yet how much adversity we still have to face in this modern day and age. 11 Million people solely in the U.K. are deaf or hard of hearing.
In a world of silence, like my daughter, it can be astonishingly difficult to comprehend how she must feel. She is fortunate enough to have hearing aids and so recently a radio aid through our NHS and council. It is still uncertain just how much accessibility she has to sounds through the equipment. At the age of 3, the tests are never conclusive.
My feelings towards being a parent to Livy.
My expectations of Livy are not much less or greater compared to my hearing sons. I still believe she can and will achieve great things in her life of silence, I may be instinctively protective of my daughter but I also allow myself to not be over protective… she has no form of knowledge of risks or assessing dangers. Whilst I watch her obsessively. I allow her to take certain risks to allow her to learn and stimulate an independent upbringing in life…
If her brother climbs a rock climbing wall at the park, you have no chance to even have an input to stop her… the girl has an inner mountaineer with an added extra mix of an adrenaline junkie!
She’s climbing before you can even blink!!
I show no extra fuss or protection to Livy, than I do the boys, I treat her no differently and this is because I do not wish for her to see herself as different to others. I still take her out to the Parks, play barns, farms, meals out, library’s. All the normal things mothers do with their children, I simply just have to have a dose of extra patience and understanding to calm or pause a situation to comfort a disoriented and flustered Livy.
Not only does Livy suffer with profound loss, she also recently has a form of vision loss/ difficulty which has caused a sudden turn to her right eye. This has complex problems in itself. Along with a communication barrier she can often display frustrated behaviour that may look questionable to other parents, unknown to her. Although Livy has a hearing loss and wears aids, but honestly she really is no different to any of her fellow friends and nursery peers.
Her sweet bubbly personality is infectiously likeable. She’s constantly smiling and making content squeals or Hums. The way she beams with warmth and pride, a smile that glows as she claps to herself in delight. She’s extremely maternal towards younger children and although she hasn’t got the awareness or ability to understand to be kind and gentle towards them, rarely does she need reminding. She’s got an inner entertainer about her, nursery sent me a beautiful short clip of her playing peek a boo with a younger peer. She loves to dress up as superheroes whilst wearing child’s dress up heels. Her desire to explore and learn how the world works is enhanced by her nursery key worker, Chloe. She gives her the courage to explore and be her own individual person. I believe sending her to a nursery setting has enabled her to shape her quirky diva personality to the best it is and this is all down to Chloe, I have wrote more about her nursery experience in a previous blog post.
All the above shows she’s just like all the other three year olds, exploring and learning. Developing the very same way. Please know that everyone should be treated in the same way, no one should be excluded, thought of differently for a disability.
Expectations for a deaf child can be the exact same as that of a hearing child. With a little guidance and understanding patience, they can extraordinary achieve the same.
However, Livy really struggles with basic communication. She tends to scream and squeal at us using hand gestures. And really clear facial expressions. Her cross face has been nailed beautifully!
She can sign few basic signs to help her tell us what it is she wants. But if it’s something we’re not understanding she has a tendency to show anger with frustration and occasionally lash out or throw herself to the floor upset. As a family and her key worker we try our hardest to work through her upset and frustration to understand what it is she wants, then show her signs for what it is to help her in the future to tell us or she will show us.
The funding unfortunately just isn’t there to support families and friends to communicate with their deaf child/friend. There are very few workshops available but they come at a price. Which some families just don’t have accessibility to.
I spent a lot of her first year in worry about the prospect of bringing up a deaf child in such a complex society. I worried about schooling, bullying, meeting parents who wouldn’t understand my child’s needs. If nursery’s could cater for her ect… I need not had worried myself silly.
Since living in the moment, she has amazed myself and others with her stubbornly fierce independent personality. I no longer worry about bullying, I believe she’s shaped into such a strong character, she can really hold her own. For now as parents and nurturers I will always support and guide my children to reach their absolute full potential in what ever they wish to succeed in.
Regardless if she wasn’t deaf, bullies could find a dozen of things to pick on may it be Skin, hair, clothes they wear or characters they enjoy to watch.
I will continue to bring my children up with a strong mentality to love and respect everyone and not to define a person by their colour, disability or difference.
There is ability, in every disability – Mothering Silence.