Monday, July 6, 2009

Trouble with a hard-of-hearing swimmer

Julia loves to swim. Over four summers she's progressed to have some skill at it. With a pair of goggles she can swim about six feet under water. She's come a long way from the first trip to the pool when we dipped her tiny baby toes in the water.

Before her hearing loss was discovered at age 3, the pool was the same as any other place. It was never any use yelling for her. She was on her way to do what she was going to do. I ran after her and re-directed her. It took all that time for me to realize something, her hearing, was wrong.

Now we live every day with the miracle of her hearing aids. I'm grateful when she stops running because she heard me calling to her. We can tell each other stories. She talks constantly.

When we go to the pool and take out her hearing aids so she can go in the water, the hearing problem seems progressive. She responds really well at first. It even gives me a thought that she could get by without being aided. As time goes by, she seems to miss more. Lately we've been having tremendous difficulty with her misunderstanding me.

Today was a perfect example. We went for a short swim during which it seemed she could hear everything she needed to. I'm sure there would be no hope of her carrying on a conversation with a stranger, but mom's voice is the most important anyway. We got out of the pool after no more than twenty minutes. The apartment complex doesn't heat the water enough for our liking and Julia needed to warm up.

As we wrapped ourselves in towels, Julia became frustrated that I wasn't putting hers on the way she wanted it. I tried to explain what I was doing. She started to whimper. I conveyed that it was time to go home anyway.

She's been a real stinker about wanting to let her hair air dry. This has always been a point of contention with us. I spent all of last summer trying to minimize the time she spent without her hearing aids so that she could be exposed to as much language as possible. Now that she is doing so well and talking every minute of the day, I figure it will be okay if she spends longer days at the pool and even if she lets her hair air dry.

Once we were home, it took about six tries to get her to understand that she should put on underwear. All of these even though we were standing two feet from each other. She was facing me and I really think that she'd have gotten this just after her hearing aids came out. I finally had to open her drawer and point.

The hair was still air drying and Julia was having blueberries for a snack. She brought one to me that was all brown and instructed me to eat it. I didn't want to eat it and I told her neither of us should eat it. I threw it into the bushes and she immediately started sobbing. She wanted to eat blueberries. I told her she could still eat the good blueberries. She started into a tantrum.

I decided that enough was enough and I was going for the hair dryer. This did not go over well.

Once the hearing aids were back in the misunderstanding and the tantrum were soon resolved. Julia remained mad at me for a while because she didn't want her hair dried.

I'm stymied with this issue. I've spoken to her hearing teacher and I've never had a bit of advice other than to make sure she's looking at me when I speak to her. She is looking at me and she's still not getting it.

I think as Julia grows up, she'll be able to compensate for the hearing loss when she's swimming. I hope so, because she has the makings of a tremendous swimmer. Perhaps in the meantime I'll have to learn sign.

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