Travis' story features a family raising a child with mild-moderate hearing levels, and learning about additional needs.
The birth of our first son Travis was a blessing, and also very exciting. Little did we know that our son would decide to come five weeks early and weight in at 4lb 10oz! Travis had to stay at the hospital for the first two and a half weeks of his life in an incubator in the nursery. It was so hard to leave him in the hospital until he was strong enough to come home. The first weeks of parenthood were stressful and sad as it was – and then we found out our son was born with a hearing loss.
Travis was first screened at the hospital when he was a week and a half old. He did not pass the initial screening and was sent for an Auditory Brainstem Response test. That’s when I was told my son has a hearing loss. It was a shock and very upsetting news to hear. The audiologist wanted to perform another ABR hearing test to confirm her finding - I asked to have a second opinion and was sent to another audiologist. The second ABR hearing test confirmed the first test results. From there it was a flood of emotion from sadness to denial to anger. Genetic testing determined that his hearing loss was hereditary - he was diagnosed with Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome and Pendred Syndrome.
There is hearing loss in my family - my brother is hard of hearing with similar hearing levels. I was angry that my child was hard of hearing when my brother’s children were not. HOW WAS THIS FAIR? We also had lots of questions racing through our heads: Will he get bullied? Will he have friends? Will he be withdrawn and shy because of his hearing loss? Will he be able to play sports? (With Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome the hearing loss can be progressive, and these drops in hearing sometimes correlate with a hit to the head.)
My brother called me as soon as he found out about Travis’ hearing. He told me that it was ok and Travis would be fine. That was the first time I was able to get my brother to answer questions about his experiences growing up with a hearing loss. He reassured me that he was not bullied, had lots of friends and attended his neighborhood school. We also realized that we are very lucky to have had Travis diagnosed at such a young age - my parents did not find out my brother was hard of hearing until he was 8 years old.
From then on I knew I had to do whatever I could to help my son get what he needed, so that he could have a happy and successful life. Travis was fitted with hearing aids at 5 months old, and we enrolled in an early intervention program when he was 7 months old. That’s when I met some great moms who were going through the same things I was going through, but were a little further along on their journey. I found it extremely helpful to meet other parents and have someone to talk to and ask questions.
Travis is now four years old. He is a very active little boy who is outgoing and has no problem interacting with kids his age or older. He loves to go swimming, play at the playground and go on play dates to see his friends. He is a little delayed in his speech but he doesn’t let that hold him back. He loves to learn, but in his own way – we are still working hard to figure out how he learns best. Our journey is far from over, as we still have many more milestones to reach. We will continue to enjoy our son, and support him in any way we can.