By Maria Pucci
Having kids in this day and age can feel like a rollercoaster ride. As parents we want to make sure that we keep them in one piece! When you are a parent of more than one child, something as simple as keeping them alive seems so hard at times. Now we have this pandemic thrown into the mix and it has definitely been a struggle for most, including my family.
I am a mother of three wonderful children. My oldest, Luca, is almost 9 years old and identifies as hard of hearing. He has been wearing hearing aids since he was 2 months old and will not go a moment throughout the day without wearing them. His younger brother and sister, Enzo and Ayva, have typical hearing.
Earlier this year, at the beginning of the pandemic, my concern was just to make sure my family stayed healthy and that we made the right choices to stay safe. Since we live in a multi-generational home and my husband has not been able to work from home, we have to be a little more careful. Other than staying home, limiting contacts and cleaning all the time, the pandemic didn’t seem so bad until we had to pay a visit to the audiologist.
The day that we went to Luca’s appointment and his fantastic audiologist started talking to him, Luca turned to me with a puzzled look on his face and said “Mom, I have no idea what she is saying”. And that’s when it happened, the realization that this pandemic had more of an effect on Luca than it did anyone else in the family. Here are some questions that I decided to ask him regarding how this pandemic is affecting him.
- What is the hardest part for you when you’re out and about?
The hardest part is I have to stay 6 feet away and I can’t touch others. When people are 6 feet away I can’t read their lips – they are too far away from me.
- How do you feel about masks?
I don’t like them. They are hard for me to wear because when I take them off, my hearing aids always get stuck on them and pull them out of my ears. When other people are wearing masks, I can’t hear them. It sounds like people’s voices are blurring out because of the mask. People sound like they are talking with a door in their face. The worst part about people wearing a mask is I can’t see their lips when they talk.
- As we decided to continue online schooling, do you miss your friends?
I miss my friends. I don’t get to play with them in real life. We make online playdates so we can still play together.
- How do you like online schooling?
It’s okay because I can see my teacher’s lips. On the computer, she doesn’t have to wear a mask which makes it easier for me to hear her.
- Can you hear the teacher better online or in a classroom?
I can hear the teacher better online because my hearing aids are blue-toothed to my laptop. At school, even with the microphone, it’s hard to hear the teacher with all the noise through the hallways during class.
- Can you understand what the teacher says?
Yes, most of the time. I only can’t hear her when the computer cuts out, but that doesn’t happen all the time.
- What can we do to help make things a little more accessible for you right now?
You and dad can make sure that when someone is talking to me, I actually understood what was said to me.
- Our family has learned a lot of ASL. Would it be easier if more people knew ASL?
YES! It would really help so that I could always know what people are saying to me.
- What is your biggest wish?
I wish that this will all be over soon so I can hug my friends and people don’t have to wear masks anymore.
- What advice do you have for parents of deaf and hard of hearing kids during this pandemic?
To the parents I would say, make sure the kids actually understand what is going on in a conversation with people wearing masks. To the kids, stay 6 feet away from people and don’t be scared to ask your parents what is being said when you can’t hear something. That’s what parents are there for.
Now that our family has a safety plan to remain healthy during the pandemic, I can refocus on ensuring Luca’s communication access. While the last few months have been challenging for him, there have been positives as well. I’m really happy to be seeing Luca develop his confidence and self-advocacy skills. That is definitely a silver-lining!