Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Turn Off My Hearing When I CHOOSE to Not Hear

Sometimes the choice is not ours.
But all choices must be respected.
All endings bring new beginnings.
It is our past that gives us the strength to forge forward into the future.
Never let a person underestimate your strength.
And never underestimate your future.

I just got back from a Meeting in Milan. The president of the parents' association invited me to speak to a group of parents. While I was there I had the chance to meet a mom and little boy I have been following since his first newborn hearing screening refer. They started their journey in Pisa and now they're in Zurich. Amazing experience to hug the mom and hear the little boy say Ciao:-)

On the forum, one of the adults posted this: Describe your cochlear implant experience in 5 words...
Here are a couple of comments people wrote (in Italian they were five words each, in English I don't have the energy to translate in five words:-):

-My life has totally changed for the better
-My daughter talks non-stop
-To hear everything- simply Amazing!
-Adorable voices of my children (a Deaf Mom wrote this one..)
-Everyone hears in his own way
-The story of a rebirth
-To hear is to live in color

And mine for Jordan:

I turn off my hearing when I CHOOSE.

My son was born deaf, he had no choice in the matter.
Thanks to the cochlear implant, he can hear.
And now, he is the one who chooses to turn it off.
That for me is the greatest miracle of all.
 Photo: In gita all'Elba

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I try to go running every morning.
This morning I ran and thought of Boston.
I believe in marathons, stamina, perseverance and challenges.
I trust people.
If a cashier gives me too much change, I tell her.
I have had a person run up to me, because she saw me leave my cell phone on the counter.
While walking down the street I smile at people and they smile back.
I work more than I probably should to achieve goals that oftentimes seem unreachable.
It doesn't matter how long it takes to reach those goals..
I just need to cross the finish line and glance back a stronger person.

On Facebook, Nicholas Kristoff wrote:
 Most inspiring glimpse here of the Boston marathon: runners who reportedly finished the 26 miles and then ran over to Mass General Hospital to donate blood.

Americans run marathons literally and figuratively every single day.

We always cross the finish line and immediately turn our eyes towards the next hurdle to overcome.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Just Stop...and Taste the Ice-Cream!

Our lives revolve around hustling and bustling, so when do we actually put down our smartphones and look our kids in the eyes?
The daily grind stimulates, activates and motivates, but when do we STOP, look around and breathe?
Just do it.
Just stop, collect your kids, turn off your cellphone, turn off the car radio, drive to the ice-cream parlor of your choice

This is the cover of my Forum's first National Meeting: Look Who's Talking!!! (More details coming soon!!!)
This is what the Program cover says:
 "Help your child to always take only one step forward. Then, give her the time to look back and realize the progress she has made. Let her know that, you too, are happy with her, so that when she turns back around and looks to the future, she will confidently take that next step forward".

Friday, April 12, 2013

Does Anyone Know Jordan- the Boy on Youtube?

Does anyone know Jordan, the boy on Youtube?
That was the question a new entry posted on my forum.
For a minute I wasn't even sure she was talking about my son...but she was definitely talking about  Jordan.
She wrote, "The first time I saw him on youtube, I cried. He was my first approach to the cochlear implant, he gave me hope."
Then, another member of the forum posted this: "It's true...when we found out about Chiara's deafness, they immediately talked to us about the cochlear implant. We had never heard of a cochlear implant, so we started to do some research. When we inserted the key words on youtube, we found a beautiful child with glasses who said, 'My name is Jordan Del Dottore' and we realized that anything is possible. Today, after almost one year since my daughter received her cochlear implant, when she says, 'Papa' my love, I love you", we're totally convinced about our choice".
Yesterday was an emotional experience on the Forum.
And here he is....Jordan...a couple of years ago:-) 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

From Mother to Daughter: Any Regrets?

Posted by one of the moms of the Italian forum...
At least once in our lives, we have found ourselves eye to eye with one of those stuffed animals dropped on our table at a restaurant by a Deaf individual with a sign language card and a piece of paper that says: "I am Deaf, please buy this stuffed animal. Thank you."
When this would happen to me with my Deaf baby Alice sitting by my side at that table, my heart would break and my thoughts would drift towards her future leaving me with doubts and uncertainties regarding the choices I had made and would still have to make. I thought, fortunately, the cochlear implant exists and my child will not grow up isolated from a world filled with sounds...
Then, however, I would think to myself: and if one day she hates me for having made that difficult choice to go forward with a cochlear implant that has enabled her to hear through a lot of hard work....and if she hates me because her entire life will be an uphill battle?  
Last night at the restaurant I relived that same scene from many years ago..........yet this time, sitting in front of me was my grown up daughter. She was watching me and said,
"What's the matter Mom? You just got really sad..."
I explained to her my feelings and fears that I still have for her and her future. She looked me straight in the eyes and said: 
"What daughter could hate a mother who chose to give her wings so that she could fly higher?????"
I posted this here to try to reassure all of the mothers of newly diagnosed babies who find themselves in the delicate position of having to make difficult decisions for the future of their babies....
-M.M. Rossi

Monday, April 8, 2013

Second Printing of RALLY CAPS....With Jordan's Letter Inside! The book and where it went from there...


While this is happening in the USA, my forum in Italy that came about following the printing of RALLY CAPS in Italy is about to hold its first National Meeting in Rome.
It has been an intense, busy and satsifying six years.
Above all, Jordan and Sofia have been by my side the entire journey.

My Dad recently created a blog on Wordpress where he posted my first public speech from NHS 2008 in Cernobbio- Thank you again to Prof. Ferdinando Grandori who has become a dear friend. My first time speaking and there were 1100 leaders in the field of Audiology in that room. One week ago I received an acceptance letter to speak at a Congress in Istanbul regarding the work that we have been doing since that day in 2008. Here is the speech:-) Thanks Dad!!

BLOG: Monday, June 23, 2008

Newborn Hearing Screening Conference June, 2008 – My Speech

Here’s my speech! I will say this – at a certain point, I started shaking, like a physiological reaction or something. I began fairly calmly and suddenly, I got the shakes. Luckily, I started the PowerPoint presentation at that moment, so I managed to pull it back together, but it got a little sticky there for a minute. I don’t know that I followed it word for word, but the jist was this:
Good Morning. My name is Jodi Cutler. I am an American Mom living in
Tuscany. My 11 year old son Jordan was born profoundly deaf, wore hearing aids for eight years and three years ago was implanted in Pisa by Prof. Stefano Berrettini with Cochlear’s Nucleus 24. His first processor was an Esprit 3G, and he currently wears a Freedom. All of our expenses have been covered by the Italian National Healthcare Service.
The cochlear implant changed our lives. From the moment of activation, Jordan flew, grew and found his voice. Because he found his voice, I was able to raise mine regarding our experience. My father and I wrote the book RALLY CAPS, and incorporated a strong deaf character with a cochlear implant just like my son, because every child has the right to find himself in literature. RALLY CAPS has been endorsed by Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, and Curtis Pride, the only Deaf Major League Baseball baseball player. It was published in the United States and has just recently been published in Italy. At the book presentation two weeks ago, I invited the Medical Professionals involved in helping our child, each and every one of them not only attended the presentation, but they spoke.
The following is the dedication in the Italian Version of Rally Caps to all of the medical professionals and teachers who have assisted us in raising Jordan’s voice:
Placing your child in the hands of other people and having to trust these people with your child is the most difficult thing for a mother. When life requires that you ask for the help and support of persons outside of the family, you suddenly find yourself in an extremely vulnerable position. Finding professionals willing to offer all of their efforts and competencies, who moreover demonstrate the ability to love your child in such a way as to contribute to his growth is…extremely rare.
I traveled ten hours, changed trains four times and sweated my way to a hole in the wall of a hotel room with a bathroom in the hall to provide you with this message: There is NO greater ally in making your job a success than the Mother of the Deaf Child you are assisting. I am here today, based on my experience here in
Italy, to provide you with a Mother’s perspective.
PEDIATRICIANS:Jordan was born in Baltimore and was extremely alert and obviously intelligent. There was no newborn hearing screening program at that time. Because Jordan was so intelligent, we questioned our pediatrician numerous times regarding his lack of language expression, he wasn’t babbling at all. Each and every time, my pediatrician called me neurotic… Motherly piece of advice number 1: LISTEN TO A MOTHER’S OPINION, THERE IS NO ONE WHO KNOWS HER CHILD BETTER.
As an American Mom thrilled to be living in Tuscany, I jumped off the airplane with ten month old Jordan slung over my shoulder ready to dive into some Chianti and pecorino cheese. One month after we settled into our new small town
Grosseto lifestyle, we took Jordan for his first check up with our new pediatrician. Dr. Giovanni Lenzi performed a standard Boel test which involved distracting Jordan with one hand and ringing bells with the other- to which Jordan had no reaction. We were sent to Florence where they performed an ABR that indicated Jordan’s profound bilateral sensory-neural hearing loss. However, try to imagine the scene in that office…
When this audiologist came to speak at my book presentation a week ago, she commented on how different I was compared to that first day that I met her. I was a 25 year old American Mamma wearing cut-off jeans shorts, very broken in tennis shoes who didn’t speak a lick of Italian. What I didn’t tell her, because the most important thing in our relationship was the fact that she loved Jordan, was how angry she made me the day she gave me that news of my son’s deafness. She looked right through me…and spoke to my mother in law. And when I intervened by means of my husband and said, you need to talk to me, I AM THE MOTHER, she began calling me “dear.”
Motherly words of wisdom number 2: When you give a parent news of their child’s hearing loss, look them directly in the eye and never look at them with pity. If that mother is Hispanic or deaf, make arrangements for an interpreter to be present because the news you give that mother will change the rest of her life.

Armed and dangerous with hearing aids, next stop Auditory-Verbal Therapy four times a week. Advice Point 3: This one’s for the Speech and language Pathologists, and Auditory-Verbal Therapists: Encourage that Mom who now assumes a new role as Mom/Teacher, focus on the positive progress made.
Imagine your typical playground scene, it is natural for a mother to teach her son right from wrong, how not to climb up the sliding board or not to push the child in front of him…it is not natural to have to shove language down your son’s throat “Oh, look, there’s a toy train, can you say Toot Toot? Oh, look that little girl has a toy car, Brrrrrooom, brrrrooom!” This dual role of teacher/mother blew me away, I am a teacher, but I have Never had a student as stubborn as my son. My speech therapist explained that my son’s temper tantrums were due to his frustrations regarding his inadequacy in expressing himself; he threw a lot of temper tantrums, so he must have been extremely frustrated.
It was my son’s frustration and the fact that he was falling behind socially that led us to choose the cochlear implant.
After a couple of opinions and research we found Santa Chiara Hospital in
Pisa where Dr. Francesca Forli answered every single one of my fifty questions calmly, objectively and sincerely. I had found my implant team. Prof. Stefano Berrettini performed the Implant Surgery leaving Jordan’s residual hearing intact. He provided me with his personal cell phone in case of emergency and called a couple of times to check on Jordan’s progress, note Jordan’s operation was the day before Christmas. I am not asking you to give up your personal lives for your patients, however it might be a sort of a human touch to delegate a phone call to a member of the implant team to find out how that child is doing…and how that mom is doing. A calm mother means a calm child.
Motherly request number 4: Go above and beyond the call of duty every now and then, it goes a long way in establishing a collaborative effort with the mother of that child, which will only make your work more successful.

The cochlear implant enabled my son to become independent. Our journey has not been easy, but it has been extremely rewarding.
After spending ten years without support, I found the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle a community of over one thousand parents at various stages of the cochlear implant journey. Some parents use ASL as a bridge or in conjunction with spoken English…other parents strictly use the Auditory-Verbal approach. We exchange information regarding the latest technology and offer psychological support having been there and done that. I then joined the blogging community, which has led to a productive dialogue with the Deaf Community. Hearing mothers of Deaf babies with CIs are making a difference in opening minds within the Deaf Community.
Mom’s Final Request: Provide that Mother with resources to help her through the lifelong journey with her deaf child.
I would like to share a little poem by Shel Silverstein entitled
Listen to the Mustn’ts
Listen to the Mustn’ts, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
We are an example that Anything is possible. Empower that mother by validating her concerns, looking her directly in the eyes when you speak to her and providing her with resources that offer support and guidance… and you will save that child.