By Joe Zhang and Kelly Lv
Our son Leo was born in Vancouver. He did not pass the newborn hearing screening test and we were very overwhelmed because this was a total shock. A few weeks later, Leo did not pass the ABR test either, and the audiologist showed us the audiology report, so we could see the “banana shape” and which frequencies were affected. Honestly, we were frustrated, overwhelmed and sad at that moment. The audiologist was kind to comfort us and gave us contact information to follow up.
We connected with an Intervention Coordinator through the BC Early Hearing Program, who referred to us a few organizations and people to follow up with.
We reached out to the organizations which offer early intervention in BC to learn about their programs. We were able to see the centres and talk with professionals who walked us through the process and resources to support Leo, and the overall roadmap from baby, infant, toddler to preschooler and finally to the education system. We learned about the types of services each program offered, so we could choose the organization that was the best fit for our family. We were also told about some successful stories of alumni, which comforted us a lot.
We attended a family connect event held at one of the centres, and participated in the Coffee Nights held by BC Hands & Voices, where we connected with other families.
We also reached out to the Guide By Your Side Program and were connected with both a Parent Guide and a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Guide. Both gave us lots of valuable information, resources and experiences to support Leo. We felt very motivated and encouraged. At this point, we accepted the fact that Leo is hard of hearing and got down to work on helping him to grow and learn.
Leo has been a good user of hearing aids since he was 3 months old, and we decided that the Listening and Spoken Language approach would be the best match for him and for our family. Over the past 4 years, we have worked with several specialized Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, who educated and empowered us to be Leo’s primary support and advocate, so he could learn and integrate into the hearing world.
We worked with the Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing closely, focusing on family goals outlined in the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), and helped Leo reach his fullest listening and spoken language potentials. For example, we read books in our most fluent language, have daily circle time at home, attend library events like baby story-time, family story-time, and participate in a variety of age-appropriate activities at the community centers. We treat Leo as a typical kid and do our best to develop his full capabilities. We don’t want him to be limited by his hearing challenges, so we try to expose him to a variety of different activities, experiences and topics.
Now Leo is close to the age of 5 and he is ready to go to kindergarten this September. He is curious, inquisitive, energetic and compassionate. He is doing multiple sports including skating, gymnastics and soccer. We are proud of him for all of the progress he has made!