Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Deaf- Through the Eyes of a Sister...

I've written a couple of posts about siblings before, but observing the sibling of another deaf child yesterday at an appointment in Pisa hit me in a totally different way. This was a family from Grosseto who contacted me requesting assistance in finding a speech therapist and I referred them to ours. Their child is four years old and was a preemie born with a congenital condition, who was diagnosed as being Deaf one year ago. He wears hearing aids when he isn't pulling them out of his ears and despite all of the problems associated with his condition, is full of life and so funny...

As are his mom and sister.

When we spoke by phone, I suggested they meet with the Professor in Pisa to have a second opinion regarding issues of ears, nose and throat as well as an opinion regarding the cochlear implant. We met at the train station and traveled to Pisa together. This was the first train ride for his sister and I have to say, she liked it, but wasn't too impressed. The mom, sister and brother played together during the entire train ride and they all fell asleep at the same time. I smiled a lot, played cars with them and watched them sleep.

Immediately upon our arrival, the Audiology equipe was ready for us, so the mom and brother entered to begin the exams and I took the sister to the bathroom.

When we returned, the sister joined her mom to watch as they tested her brother and I sat across from them on the other side of the room.

As the beeps arrived and her brother manifested no response, I saw the little girl's face crash. I could understand the mom's facial expression of anxiety, sadness and love having lived the situation in her shoes, but watching the little girl destroyed me. This 10 year old beautiful sister puts her brother's hearing aids in when he takes them out, catches his toys before they hit the ground, wipes his mouth when he drools and lets him pull her hair even though sometimes he pulls too hard.

As soon as the test ended, I called her over and sat her down next to me before she followed her Mom to the next exam. I said, "You have been with your mom when the other Audiologist tested your brother's hearing, haven't you?"
She said, "No."


I asked her mom if I could take her to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa while they finished testing her son, and she said okay.

I grabbed her and rushed her out of there. God, there is nothing as depressing as being in a hospital other than watching doctors test your brother's hearing and seeing no response. I said to her, "You know that your brother is deaf, that is why he wears hearing aids. The doctors do these exams to have an idea as to exactly what types of sounds he may possibly be able to hear. He doesn't have to 'pass' the test, he just needs to be himself. Please don't be sad or feel that your brother is missing something, he is perfect the way he is...And with the experience you have in helping him and loving him, maybe you will be the doctor assisting another child when you get older."

*She smiled* (Thank God)
So, off we went for a little Leaning Tower and two scoops of gelato.


PolyglotMom said...

Made me cry....

Oh how I wish I could take the train to Pisa, visit the leaning tower on a whim and eat gelatto.


Dianrez said...

Bless you for posting that vignette about the sister!

Children, including deaf kids, pick up on their parents' anxiety and translate it to "defective". Not measuring up to a parent's expectations impacts a child terribly, even if its a sibling.

THANK you for taking her out and reassuring her that her brother is okay as he is, and will be no matter what devices are hung on him or not. (Work on that mom next!)

All parents should have a friend like you to hold their hand. Kudos!

kim said...

Wonderful! Thanks so much for telling this story.

Stephen said...

Jo.....This is one of my favorite posts....aside from all the RALLY CAPS celebrations that is! It is really impressive what you are able to do! I am a proud dadio! LuvU

Mighe said...

See, Jodi? As I already said you, you're such an amazing person! :)

Mom and I will hope to take a gelato with you in Pisa very soon! :)

(I still have my mac at apple care, sometimes I stole my flatmate laptop but can't use it for long...however I'm fine and enjoying CI so much day by day)

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