Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How do you explain to a child that you are deaf?

As I was sitting home relaxing alone Memorial Day weekend, I thought about how to explain my deafness to my 1 year old niece when she gets older. At the moment she knows that I have a " BOO BOO" on my ear. She goes to take my processor off and I say " You can't take boo boo off because I wont be able to hear you." That actually does work. She is always staring at my processor. She thinks its a toy! Eventually when she reaches the appropriate age I want to explain this to her but I dont know how. This will be my first time so I'm nervous.

Before I had my cochlear implant I was struggling and I became so depressed and upset because I couldn't communicate with my niece or anyone. That was actually the first time in my life that was a " WAKE UP CALL" to do something about this. Its hard because I have been ill for a few years and I wanted just TO HEAR like EVERYONE ELSE. I honestly didn't think I was going to get MEDICAL approval. It came to a point where I couldn't take it anymore. This had to be done. I struggled my entire life and I didnt want to struggle anymore. I realized I was going to miss out on EVERYTHING she saids. I couldn't take that heartache.

The night before I was implanted, I decided to write her LETTERS and put them in a special box for her so she can read when she is older. My first letter was 3 hours before I was leaving to go into the city to sleep at the hotel before surgery. Up until now every month I write her letters. I remember crying my eyes out just writing the first few sentences to her because I couldn't hear her voice. It was heartbreaking.

My niece is growing up way to fast for me. She is going to be 2 year old soon. It feels like yesterday she was born. Now she is talking saying words and trying to have a conversation with me. I HEAR IT ALL.I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT. Hearing all this brings so much joy into my life. I AM SO THANKFUL to be ABLE TO HEAR HER!

So my question for you is what do I say to her and at what age should I explain this to her? I hope I dont have to wait till she's in her teen years.

I was also thinking about buying this book at the convention even though its not for her age group but she LOVES TO READ BOOKS and flip through them.

The book is called " Sunny and her Cochlear Implants" by Susanna Dussling.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks :)


Cathy Finneran said...

First of all, let me tell you that you are one extraordinary young lady....The love that you have for your niece is truly beautiful... I am so glad that your surgery was a success and you can hear all the things your little niece says... Danielle, somehow I think you will know exactly when the right time is to tell her. I think books on hearing loss is a wonderful idea to introduce your hearing impairment... Reading books together is that "special time" you can spend with her and a beautiful way to help her understand what is is like to live with hearing loss.. But Danielle, most of all I am sure she will know how much you love her regardless of how you hear and she will know how lucky she is to have an Aunt like you. You truly are a smart,beautiful and compassionate young lady and your parents must be so proud of you..I wish you all the best on your journey on how to find the best way to tell your niece and I hope you keep us updated on how it goes. Your friend, Cathy

Arlene Romoff said...

She will only know you as someone who can hear her - she's too young to remember anything now. And she'll understand that it's the magic device on your ear that lets you hear her. You haven't had your CI long enough to feel that it's part of you yet. That will come - probably in a few more months - and then you won't think of it as a "boo boo", but more as "this is my hearing".

Sharon Crouch said...

Dani you have always been such an inspiration on the CC full of spirit. When the time comes it will. But I agree with the other comment you haven't gotten to the point that you are not a deaf person you are now a hearing person who gets to hear her sweet niece. You are like Cathy said an extraordinary young lady. I hope I find you this time at the convention. Never did find you in Florida. You are so full of spunk and such a happy person. I pray your niece picks up these traits she will see you as the bionic aunt.

Danielle said...

Thank you all for your comments.