Ashlee Rose:Tell us about yourself?
Jennifer: My name is Jennifer and I fulfill many roles in my life: I’m a mother to three wonderful little boys, I’m married to an amazing man who also happens to be serving in the military, I’m also a part-time employee and student. Never a dull moment in our house!
Ashlee Rose:How old was Nathan when he was diagnosed with a hearing loss?
Jennifer: Nathan was 22 months old when he was diagnosed with hearing loss. He received his first set of hearing aids when he was 23 months old.
Ashlee Rose:What kind of hearing loss? What hearing aids does he have?
Jennifer:He has moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. He wears Phonak Sky V hearing aids.
Ashlee Rose:As a parent, what is it like to raise a son with a hearing loss? What was it like when you first found out and where are you at now?
Jennifer:Finding out that Nate has hearing loss was very unexpected, to say the least. No one on either mine nor my husband’s family has hearing loss. We had some suspicions when he was a baby; sometimes he would respond to sounds, and other times he wouldn’t. When we found out that he needed hearing aids, and will for the rest of his life, we didn’t know what to expect. Would he be able to speak? Would he/we have to learn sign language? What kind of life would he have? We had no idea how to navigate this new journey we were now on.
It has been 6 years since he was diagnosed, and the amount of progress he has made just absolutely blows us away! We were lucky and blessed enough to get him enrolled in an amazing school that taught him listening and spoken language. I have had many people tell me that if they didn’t see his hearing aids, they would never know that he has hearing loss. He amazes us everyday with his conversations and understanding. Everyone who has met him knows what a sweet and kind amazing little boy he is, and we couldn’t agree more!
Ashlee Rose:Now he is being mainstreamed at school, do you face challenges like fighting for his rights to accommodate his needs at school?
Jennifer:His mainstream school has been very supportive when it comes to accommodating his needs. He has had 2 amazing teachers of the deaf, wonderful speech therapists, and another awesome teacher! They have all been so supportive of Nate, and they help make sure he gets what he needs.
Ashlee Rose:Does he play sports? Do you do anything to prevent sweat from his hearing aids? Do you guys notify referee at games about his hearing loss?
Jennifer:He loves to play sports! He has played soccer and basketball so far. We have used a product called sweat bands to help the sweat from getting in his hearing aids. We haven’t needed to notify the referees at games, but we do let his coaches know about his hearing loss. We use an FM system at home, and we use it at all of his games. It helps tremendously!
Ashlee Rose:How does he advocate himself at school or respond to his peers’ questions about his hearing loss?
Jennifer:When he gets asked about his hearing aids, he just tells them, “They’re my hearing aids!” He is so cavalier about it that the other kids just go with it. Since he uses an FM system at school, he is in charge of making sure it is connected properly, and is working the way it should be. He also changes his own batteries so he has to communicate to his teacher when he has to do that.
Ashlee Rose:What does he like to do? What would he like to be when he grows up?
Jennifer:He loves to play with his little brothers. He also loves to play on the computer. His favorite games are Minecraft (he can talk about Minecraft for hours!), Fortnite, and Roblox. He also enjoys watching DanTDM videos on YouTube about all the games he likes to play. Every year I ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, and so far it’s been the same each time: he wants to be like his daddy!
Ashlee Rose:Do you have any advices to other parents who are in the same boat as you? A favorite quote to help others to feel inspired throughout their journeys?
Jennifer:My advice to other parents is don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether it be to healthcare professionals, school representatives, or other parents who are on a similar journey. And don’t forget: YOU know your child the best. You are his/her best advocate. You got this!
Hearing Impaired single mother and teacher aide at a hearing impaired oral preschool program. An author of "Turn The Lights On, I Cant Hear You".