Tuesday, April 8, 2014

D is for deaf

deaf  as defined by Merriam-Webster:

lacking or deficient in the sense of hearing

Our son was diagnosed with hearing loss late.  He struggled with ear infections and ear surgeries for the first 9 years of his life.  We were blindsided by the magnitude of his hearing loss that was diagnoses when he was 12.  I vividly remember taking him in to see the audiologist- an audiologist who remembered testing him just 3 years earlier and declaring his hearing loss as minimal.  He seemed skeptical that we would find anything different that day.  I also vividly remember the look on his face when he came back to get me from the waiting room to review the results.  Moderate hearing loss to the left ear, severe hearing loss to the right ear.  Words that hung in the air, the unanswered question of what does that mean?  It has been a meandering road to bring together both the technologic and the educational pieces.  Andrew finally wears both of his hearing aids and also uses an FM receiver at school.

This morning, my husband, Zack and I met with our son Andrew's IEP (Individualized Education Program) team. The team includes an Audiologist, a Hearing Impaired Consultant, a Speech/Language Pathologist, the School Psychologist and one of Andrew's teachers.  Throughout this process the unasked and unanswered question has hung around.  Until today I did not know that Zack and I had the same question.  Until today I did not know we were both trying to find the appropriate time or way to ask. 

The Hearing Impaired Consultant was reviewing her meetings with Andrew.  They are done in a setting with 4 other hearing impaired teens.  She was describing Andrew's confidence and self awareness- noting how much it had grown in the last year.  She related to us that Andrew is very comfortable in defining himself as deaf.  I recalled a conversation I had with Andrew recently when he stated, "it's okay Mom, I am deaf."  I remember how taken aback I was at his words.  This was the opportunity.  So I asked.

"Is my son considered clinically deaf"?

The answer is not a clear yes or no.  According to the Audiologist and the Hearing Impaired Consultant he is not clearly delineated as Deaf, but he is also more extreme than hard of hearing.  They both stated that in the current culture he chooses how he wishes to be identified and right now he is proud to say he is deaf and states that it "just means I learn things differently".  

Love that Boy!!

D is for deaf .

The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center:
  • deaf with a lowercase "d" is usually an audiological description of a person's hearing level. It most often refers to a person who is unable to use his or her hearing for the purpose of understanding everyday communication. Being deaf does not mean the person can not hear anything at all.  Not all people who are deaf identify themselves with, or participate in, Deaf culture.
  • Deaf with an uppercase "D" refers to deaf adults and children who share the use of American Sign Language and Deaf culture-common values, rules for behavior, traditions, and views of themselves and others (Padden & Humphries, 1988). People who identify with Deaf culture and describe themselves as Deaf may also have a range of hearing levels. 

  • Degree of hearing loss 
    • Normal range 0-15 dB HL
    • Minimal 16-25 dB HL
    • Mild loss 26-40 dB HL
    • Moderate loss 41-55 dB HL
    • Moderately severe 56-70 dB HL
    • Severe 71-90 dB HL
    • Profound 91 dB HL or greater
  • How loud is loud- everyday sounds 
    • 0-25 dB HL: Approximate threshold for normal hearing
    • 30 dB HL: Whisper at five feet
    • 50 dB HL: Average conversation
    • 90-110 dB HL: Loud auto horn, a person nearby who is yelling
    • 100-110 dB HL: Motorcycle engine
    • 150-170 dB HL: Jet engine (painful for humans)

1 comment:

  1. My former mother-in-law lost her hearing at a very young age. I like to believe there will be a time in the future when science will be able to fix hearing loss similar to how Lasik surgery has helped those who have lost sight.