The (not quite) joys of summer

I love summer.  Love the longer days, warm weather, carefree attitude, spending the entire day/night outdoors, bbqs, days at the beach, ice cream, you get the picture.  Having a son who wears hearing aids though, brings a whole new dimension to summer.  Because along with all those joys, come some asterisks. 

Hearing aids, humidity, water activities, sweat, and constant sunblock are not quite winning combinations.  Those spontaneous water fights?  All I can think is how not to get the hearing aids caught in the crossfire.  Or the misters at public places that are intended to be fun and refreshing?  I get agita just thinking what that moisture could do his aids.  And those passing summer rainshowers?  Hard to prepare for those in advance! 

One of the biggest things about summer is being in the pool or ocean.  If you really want to know what keeps me up at night, you can start with this topic.  Since Jayden doesn’t wear his aids in the water his safety in these situations can be anxiety producing for me.   What if he’s running too fast too close to a pool, but can’t hear me or anyone else yelling to slow down, what if a whistle is blown for an emergency, or if he’s too far out in the water?  I have my own issues and fears about the ocean and deep ends of pools, enough that can burn a hole in a therapist’s couch, but when I add to that my fear of having my child, without his aids, who doesn’t know how to swim, in or even near the water – there’s not enough klonopin in the world to calm those fears.  Jayden is not so comfortable in the water and learning to swim has been a slow process, happening on his own pace.  The need to shell the money out for swim lessons year round is a necessity to me, because one way or another we are going to make that kid a champion swimmer whether he likes it or not!

And then there’s camp…  Each time I send Jayden “out of the nest” into new territory I am plagued with the same apprehension and worry.  It is one thing to worry about all of the above and have it be under my watch, but to know he’s in those situations without me nearby??  And aside from the usual angst a parent feels about a kid starting something new and wanting to assure that he adjusts, makes friends, etc I worry about having to give my crash course in hearing aids to a whole new set of people.  Jayden knows the drill that he has to stand there as I demonstrate on his little ears how to put the aids in, and kudos to him as he sits there patiently as each new person fumbles their way with putting them in. 

With summer halfway over I am happy to report that just like every new chapter we enter for Jayden, with the proper planning, precautions, organization and education we seem to have a handle on things.  We have been fortunate that Jayden is going to an amazingly organized camp this summer with such open lines of communication (major points from me!).  We’ve worked out a great system to have the camp nurse take his aids out down by the pool right before swim and put them back in right after.  With swim twice a day this is no small job!  My insane need to be prepared even got him this mega waterproof case to put the aids in – he could probably go scuba diving with it and the aids would be fine!  The counselors and lifeguards know when a whistle is blown to check to make sure someone gets his attention.  If they get caught in a rainstorm to try to throw a towel or something over his head to protect the aids.  During daily swim lessons in a very loud pool with multiple lessons going on around, the lifeguards know that he has to see their face to follow what they’re saying.  I just pray that those teenage counselors don’t forget in the spur of the moment that Jayden can’t be the target of a water fight assault! 

As he gets older, he will not get to go on Summer break when it comes to self-advocacy and responsibility.  I won’t always be able to hand hold counselors into how to take his aids on and off, he will need to learn to have responsibility for them by the pool.  During free swim he will need to be aware of when it looks like his friends are pausing for a “buddy check” or if they are going to the side since a whistle was blown.  He will need true “buddies” when he’s at the pool to be his ears for him.  I hope he doesn’t get self-conscious when he can’t hear what his friends are saying in the pool, or feel strong enough to say – “no, you can’t douse me with water in your random water fight since I have my hearing aids on and they can’t get wet,” or have restraint to run in those misters.  He will need to learn to be alert when near water, and not put sunblock on near his aids.  That’s a lot for a kid to have to be responsible for in addition to everything else we expect of our kids.  The list of ways we expect Jayden to rise to the occasion seems to keep growing, but so far he has established a good track record…

Summertime is just another reminder of how sometimes some extra efforts need to be expended to ensure Jayden is set up for success.   With half the summer behind us and things chugging along smoothly, Jayden is having a blast at camp and with summertime activities.   It is all just another reminder of how having to do some extra precautions and preparation is  just a part of our lives, and once we get past all the logistics, we can back to eating ice cream far too many times in a week, after finishing up a long day playing in the water, and enjoying a backyard BBQ.

Thoughts from the back of an audiology booth

You often notice how much your child has grown and developed at the most unexpected moments. For me it was the other day sitting in my usual place behind Jayden in an audiology booth at a routine check up. Being old hat at this by now, we settled into our places – him in the front, at a table, facing the audiologist who was sitting on the other side of the glass, and me in back of him. From our first appointments as a baby, he has cooperated in this shoebox of a booth. By now he comes in, sits down and gets ready for business.

Since he was a baby, we’ve sat in these positions, but at this appointment, I found myself reflecting on all the ways he has grown throughout our 4+ years of every few month appointments. From this vantage point sitting behind him, I can observe his progress as a growing boy as he transitions from one type of seat to another. As a baby, he’d sit in his snugride portable car seat, then a high chair, then a highchair without the tray, to a booster seat strapped in, to a booster raised chair – and now no straps, no nothing, just a higher chair so he can reach the table. And all along, my chair has stayed the same, right behind him, watching him from behind, catching what glimpses I can of him in the reflection in the window across.

There was a time when we used to have to dump cheerios on the tray to keep him sitting there for the entirety of the exam, and now he sits there for as long as they need him to, waiting to see what else they will throw at him. As a toddler he used to turn around every few minutes to make sure I was still sitting behind him – now he might not even care if I was in the room.

His level of testing has also evolved as he’s grown. When he was a baby they did what was called behavioral testing – the audiologist played different sounds, music, etc and watched for him to respond to the different sounds at different frequencies on different sides, often there would some sort of confirmation for him that he heard the sound when something like a stuffed monkey playing the drums would light up in the location where the sound came from. As he got older he started “play audiometry” where he would hold a block or something similar, and every time he heard a sound (which were also varying decibels and frequencies) he would put the block in the box/peg in the hole, etc. Lately, he is old enough that he has to repeat words while the audiologist in the booth covers her mouth so she can determine how he’s hearing some of the key language sounds and making out the words. For the first time at this past appointment, she put background noise on and he had to repeat the words (also with her mouth covered), navigating through the background noise. As I watched him focus and concentrate on making out the words it gave me a glimpse into just how much he has to overcome daily in this noisy world of ours.

The most important observations that arise at these audiology appointments is in his speech development. They always say you never see the same progress when you are with your kids 24/7. Going to the audiologist every few months since he was 6 months old has allowed me the opportunity to take a step back and admire his development. I loved our every few month’s appointments early on. It was an opportunity for me to boast to his audiologist about his progress – “Guess how many words he’s saying now?” “Guess how many words he puts together now in a sentence?” “Do you hear how clear his ‘S sounds’ are?” and so on.

These days, since Jayden is age-appropriate in his speech we often forget about the early years that his language was developing and how hyper-focused we were about it. We often take the fact that he talks like other 5 year olds for granted. I met a mom with a baby at this recent appointment and it recalled the time when I met a mom of an almost 3 year old at the audiologist when Jayden was a baby. I was in awe watching this pre-schooler talking – the words just came out of his mouth like a regular person. I was still new to having a hearing impaired child, and my not even one year old baby, who wasn’t saying any sounds of any import seemed a lifetime away from being able to open his mouth and just “talk” like anyone else. The road ahead seemed eons long, and our anxiousness over him learning to talk and develop speech was palpable. I got this woman’s phone number and followed up with her to find out what route she had taken and to see what info I could glean from her. I was constantly told that before I knew it he would be talking and you won’t be able to get him to shut up, but when you are home with your kid and spend every waking second with them, the progress seems to move at a snails pace and it was hard to imagine that one day these nonsensical sounds would form words. Now looking at my almost 5 year old, who is a verbose almost-kindergartener, it is so hard to imagine that we were ever concerned with him not talking and concerned about his speech and language development

So when I encountered this mom with her baby at my appointment recently, that look of wonder in her eyes as she watched/listened to me and Jayden converse like any other mom and son, it gave me that reality check, another reminder of just how far Jayden has come and how he has grown and developed. It was as if a lightning bolt struck down reminding me of all the different stages and steps Jayden has taken to get where he is today. If I could have told this mother what was going through my mind, I’d tell her about all the twice weekly speech sessions we went through in early intervention, all his hard work (and from those around him) reinforcing what he learned in those sessions, the parent/toddler groups we schlepped to the other end of New York City for weekly, the making sure he had proper amplification and access through routine audiology check ups, making sure we went to the ENT so that he had no fluid issues, transitioning to the New Jersey system and getting him into a hearing impaired nursery program, fighting our school district to keep him in that hearing impaired program, getting the right resources, amplification, and services in place once he left that program and came back to our school district, and on and on. That mom in the bathroom just saw a kid with hearing aids talking, not the hours and hours that have been put in to accomplish it, the unending self-doubt as a parent that makes you worry that you are doing the absolute best by and for your kid, or dealing with processes, bureaucracy, policies, and appointments. They all require a lot of time, money, soul-searching and energy to happen.

Although I’ve probably been more hyper-aware of progress and development in my kids than a lot of parents, even for me it’s hard to imagine and all too easy to forget just how far Jayden has come in a few short years. As I left his appointment the other day, I left with the appreciation of the every few months reminder I get to have of my little guy’s development from my well-worn spot behind him in the audiology booth.

We’re not in Kansas anymore

Tomorrow Jayden will start in our school district’s Pre-K.  Half of his class is made up of kids who are receiving services like speech, OT, and PT and the other half are kids from the district who got a spot there via a lottery.   It is a well-respected program in the school district, and out of the three special ed classes in the pre-school for his grade his is the only inclusion one with “regular” kids who are not receiving services.  It is a desirable class to be in for the inclusion aspect, and those 6 “regular” kid spots supposedly are highly coveted in town since it is such a great program.  While all that is great, we are not exactly jumping for joy for him to be starting there. 

For the last 2 years Jayden has been in the comfort and security of a hearing impaired program, and one that is incredibly warm and nurturing.   As a 2 year old it was a great transition to school, especially since it was an inclusion class that his twin sister attended.  Having an in house audiology department to trouble shoot his hearing aids whenever necessary was invaluable.   As he moved into the 3’s there he was able to get into more “serious” school in an environment perfectly suited for him acoustically and linguistically, learn from professionals whose training is with hearing impaired kids, and also have the language models from the regular hearing kids from that town that were in his class.   As anyone involved in any early-on intervention with services knows, these early years are crucial.  The services he’s been receiving since he was 10 months old have gotten him where he is today (and not to boast, well, actually to boast, that would be on age level with his peers across the board) and lay the groundwork for academic success down the road.   It was important to me and Jeremy that he be given the best opportunity for success, and given the strongest foundation possible.

Now I know we’re not throwing him into this district program to see if he can sink or swim, since it is a special ed program with a great reputation where he will still receive services, but the services are dramatically decreased, the day is half as long and the specialists there are not trained to work with hearing impaired kids as he’s had the luxury to learn from the last 2 years.  In the comfort of a hearing impaired program we don’t have to leave specific instructions, worry that no one would notice if an aid fell out while playing or if there was static, or if a battery was dead, or if even worse –  he just wasn’t getting everything that was taking place with all the goings on in a classroom and was missing things (these crucial foundation-laying things). 

When I’m feeling all “glass is half full” I know that this is a good thing that he’s there.  It means the “experts” out there who are in charge of determining his education plans feel that he doesn’t require the intensive services he’s been receiving, and should succeed with a lighter load.  We plan for him to be fully mainstreamed next year for kindergarten so this is a great transition since it is a small class, and an inclusion set-up with “regular” kids, while still receiving the watchful eye of special ed teachers and varied therapists (albeit majorly decreased frequency and not hearing impaired specific background).  But I also acknowledge that part of my hesitation is that I have been spoiled and have been able to get somewhat lazy.  I know I have been immersed and hands-on in his education from day one, staying on top of everyone and everything as much as possible, but putting him in an environment where not everyone speaks the same hearing impaired-kid-needs language, I have to make sure to stay even more on top of things than I’ve had to the past years.

As I packed up his changes of clothes for his cubby, I also packed up extra batteries and a hearing aid case wondering what else I should send?  When we had the “meet the teacher and classroom” session today, I found myself morph into the hyper vigilant advocate that is always lurking inside me, and was holding back from full-on grilling his teacher on her skills with an FM system.  Did she have an in-service yet from the itinerant teacher to go over everything (as was supposed to happen prior to the start of school)?  How many other FM systems or soundfields are there in the school, since “you know, he can get feedback or pick up other people’s system’s if his FM system is not programmed properly,” has she connected yet with the teacher of the deaf who is going to provide itinerant services, or “you know not to talk with your back to the class since Jayden won’t be able to hear as well,” etc.  The school nurse has checked and monitored a number of hearing impaired kids’ hearing aids over the years in this particular school, but I still marched me and Jayden down to her office to make sure she met him and then I was able to give her my pop quiz on handling hearing aids.  Good thing I stopped short of challenging her to a test of showing how long it takes her to change a hearing aid battery! 

And then of course there’s Jayden himself to worry about.  Jayden LOVES school, or at least he has up until now.  Every Saturday morning this past year he whined when he woke up that he didn’t want to do whatever our day’s plans were since he wanted to go to school.  He is at his best at school and just throws himself right in -with sheer glee and enthusiasm -the minute he walks through the classroom door.   He has also been around other hearing impaired kids for the last 2 years so there’s been no lack of other kids to compare himself to – and even Hannah always asks to clarify whether someone has aids or cochlear implants.   As he grows and becomes more self aware it is important that we keep up our connections with the hearing loss community so that he knows there are other kids wearing hearing aids  just like him.

On the eve of his first day at his new school, I pray that school continues to be such a positive experience for him, and that his enthusiastic, outgoing personality and infectious smile and laugh that has endeared him to many a teacher and therapist continues as well.   I hope he does not have to struggle or worry about being able to hear what the other children are saying or more importantly what the teacher is saying, and that he takes what he has been taught until now about self-advocacy for his hearing aids (i.e. telling someone if the battery is dead, or if something is up with it) and for himself (i.e. asking for something to be repeated if he didn’t hear it) and implements it.   Assuming he continues on the trajectory he’s been on, he will have less and less services and “watchful eyes” as the years go on, but every year of school gets harder, the bar gets set higher, and the gap between being caught up and falling behind can potentially get wider.  I wonder if I will ever stop worrying about all of those things when it comes to school (and I am not even thinking about socially – that’ll just keep me up with even more sleepless nights!).  For now, I will keep my “I will advocate for my son until you physically pull me off” hat on and wear my eagle eyes to make sure that he totally rocks Pre-K and gets the most out of this year as he possibly can. 

Olympic Men’s Volleyball’s Newest Fan

I’ve written before about the deaf and hearing impaired athletes who’ve “made it” and are excelling at their sport, but I missed a few, and they are ever so timely now.  David Smith, is a hearing impaired member of the US Men’s Olympic Volleyball team currently competing in the games in London.  I have been watching the Olympics, but have mainly stuck to my usuals – swimming and gymnastics, and catching some Basketball and Soccer that my husband has been watching.  I now have to make sure that I set my DVR for all the USA Volleyball matches!  Although many different countries are competing and I feel pride when the Americans succeed, it is almost as if I have another “country” to root for now.  Finding out that an Olympic participant is hearing impaired, I suddenly feel a kinship with this athlete, as if he comes from the same place that my family is now from, and I want to make sure that I cheer him and his team on, the same way I cheer for my other country.   For those of you keeping score at home – Men’s Volleyball have won both of their games so far – they face #1 ranked Brazil later today.
While we’re on the topic of the Olympics, I also don’t know how actual family members of Olympic hopefuls or participants do it and watch their family member compete.  I recently read about deaf US swimmer Marcus Titus just missing making the Olympic team by a mere fraction of a second and it just broke my heart learning that he didn’t make the team.   Titus finished eighth in the final of his main event at the Olympic trails, the 100-meter breast stroke. Had he touched the wall just .79 of a second earlier, he would be competing in London right now.  Talk about how every second counts…  How much would I have loved to cheer on TWO deaf/hearing impaired athletes in this year’s Olympics!
I know that this isn’t Olympics related , but clearly since my sports post I have learned of several other deaf and hearing impaired athletes who are succeeding at their sport, so I want to make sure I give a shout out to Austin Solecitto, a deaf baseball player.   A recent high school graduate, he has been called “one to watch,” is one of the top players in the state, and scouts frequently attend his games to check him out.  He will be going on to play for Boston College next year.  Our family feels a particular kinship with Solecitto as he is a Jersey boy just like Jayden.  NBC Nightly News did a nice piece on him and can be seen here 
I love that the positive athlete role models for Jayden just keep coming, and especially at the Olympic level.   If you know of more, please send them my way! 
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Men’s Volleyball to go catch up on!

More reason to fear the schoolbus

It’s sort of old news by now, but it has been on my mind since the story first broke. There was a lot of buzz the last week or two about the 67 year old school bus monitor in New York State, Karen Klein, that was bullied (to tears) by the students on the bus – and it was all caught on tape. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the videos show the teens being relentless in their taunting her – about her weight, her appearance, her family, and – this one hit close to home – her hearing aids. There are no words to describe the deplorable behavior of these teens (well, there are words, but not appropriate for this family friendly blog…) You hear a lot of stories about the growing problem of bullying these days, but to actually see it firsthand is unsettling, upsetting, and anger-inducing.
When I watched those videos, I could not help but picture a day that I pray never comes, of when Jayden comes home (in tears) telling me about how kids were mean to him or bullying him about his hearing aids and being hearing impaired. Since I don’t even notice jayden’s hearing aids anymore – shocking that I don’t even see the obnoxious blue string that attaches them to his shirt – I often forget that he has a difference that is visible to those around him. When jayden was first diagnosed and it was determined he would get hearing aids, one of the first things I thought of was of kids being mean to him. I know that kids and their families come in all shapes, sizes and varieties, and that we live in a world where being PC is in, but I also know that taunting and bullying has become a serious problem. The school bus is notorious for being the forum for kids to unleash harassment onto others. The ability for kids to torment one another has only grown as the outlets and platforms for bullying have grown from Facebook, twitter, etc (and other ways that I am prob not in touch or savvy enough to know about…)
As a parent, I worry about how do I prepare my kids to first of all, make sure they are never the bully, if even in what they think is just innocent teasing, but also what to do if they are on the receiving end. I know that we are raising our children to be accepting of all people, no matter what their differences but I fear that not all kids are taught these lessons, and as much as I’d love to, I can’t personally go into the homes of every child Jayden will ever encounter and sit down and have a talk with them. I like to think that we surround ourselves with people who would instill those same values onto their kids, and for sure give them a major talking to/life lesson should it ever come about that they were bullying my son, but I can’t be sure. I wish I could sit down with all parents too and teach them how important it is to impart these values onto their children, and to be mindful of what they say in front of them. I like to think that he will hopefully be in school with the same people throughout elementary school and junior high and his aids and his impairment will go unnoticed over time in the same way that I don’t notice it any more. But that would be an ideal word; peer pressure can be a strong and vicious power and it takes a very strong kid to stand up to what the masses or “cool kids” might be saying or doing. And what about his twin sister? I would hope that she would never for a millisecond even think about joining in and I know her bond with her brother is strong (and will hopefully stay that way as they get older), but I feel for her too should she ever have to even be put in that situation to defend her brother. I would hope she’d react the same way with any other kid that was being bullied, and not just her brother. Defend the person, not tolerate bullying, and tell a grown up. As an almost 4 year old who checks her dolls’ imaginary hearing aids, I know that seeing people with hearing aids or cochlear implants are second nature to my daughter, but I hope she can impart that onto others when/if the time comes.
At a meeting recently, there was a woman who had a very visible disfigurement. Afterwards (and when she was gone), other attendees were commenting on it, how freaky it was, and how they hoped their aghast reaction went unnoticed by this woman. Here I was, a 36 year old faced with a similar peer pressure of whether to join in the conversation or not. Yes, I of course noticed the disfigurement, but not for a second did I think to talk about it to others, nor did I see any reason to, I truly did not think it made a difference. Nonetheless I had to put myself out there to go against the group’s chatter, which even as an adult is not an easy thing.
As every parent knows you can’t shield your kids from the outside world as much as you might want to. And although we treat him like he’s no different than any other kid, there’s only so much self-confidence we can instill in one little boy. Watching these videos gives me an all too clear visual for a scenario that I’ve spent many a sleepless night picturing. I hope (and pray) that should Jayden ever encounter a situation similar to that bus monitor that he is able to rise above, has the self-confidence to handle the situation – and with as much restraint and calm as that monitor did, and not shy away from the opportunity to bring it to light and expose the bullies. He has already given me so many reasons to be proud of him, and I would love to know that I won’t have to add standing up to bullying as one more.

Getting in the Game – Sports and the Deaf/Hearing Impaired

I have been reading a lot of articles lately, either that are emailed to me or that I see people link to on Twitter and Facebook about athletes who are deaf or hearing impaired and how they “rise above” their disability and are excelling at their sport.   I know Jeremy and I feel strongly that Jayden can do anything that he wants in life (except hear perfectly…) and that his disability doesn’t define him, but I like seeing it exemplified when reading these stories.  In all these articles there seems to be a common theme – that each player does not want to be treated any differently, yet has to work harder and always feels like they have to prove themselves and prove to the world that they can play just as well as or better than anyone with normal hearing.  It might take some more perseverance, modifications, special dispensations, and extra patience on the coach and other teammates’ part, but it is heartwarming and inspiring to see that their disability is not impeding them or preventing them from succeeding.

The stories and sports ranged from  basketball (and here) and football to speedskating, and  rugby   There are some especially bright “shining stars” – deaf or hearing impaired athletes who are playing or have played at the professional level in the US and I am sure are looked up to by deaf and hearing impaired kids all over the world.  A few I was aware of like WNBA play Tamika Catchings who plays for the Indiana Fever and was MVP of the WNBA this year, Reed Doughty of the Washington Redskins, and former MLB player  Curtis Pride  – a mutli-sport athlete who even played college basketball while he was on the roster for the Mets!  A quick Google search to see who else was out there led me to Terence Parkin  a South African still active Olympic swimmer (and silver medalist in the Sydney Olympics!),  and a bunch of former NFL players – Kenny Walker formerly of the Denver Broncos, Reggie Williams of the Cincinnati Bengals, and NFL Hall of Famer and Chicago Bear Mike Singletary (a quick shout out to Bonnie Sloan who got a career ending injury 4 games into his first season with the Denver Broncos)

Most interesting thing I learned in my trolling through cyberspace was about the first deaf professional baseball player in the late 1800’s – William Ellsworth Hoy, who was given the politically incorrect nickname “Dummy” Hoy.  In baseball around the turn of the century all the umpires’ calls were shouted, which Hoy couldn’t hear.  Long story short, his requests for hand signals resulted in the hand signals for balls, strikes, safe, and out that umpires still use today – who knew?!  You can read more about it here.

Reading these articles now is timely as I’ve just signed Jayden up for “Kiddie Soccer” in our town, his first organized sport – well, at least the chaotic, pre-school version of organized sports.  Yes, I know he is not even four years old and not exactly playing Division I or professional sports, but reading these articles made me realize that I spend so much time focused on Jayden’s education and setting him up for academic success, that there is a lot to focus on outside of school, and playing a team sport will come with new challenges for us to conquer.

Signing my kid up for a recreational sport is not as simple as filling out a registration form online and showing up the first day.  In advance of him playing I’ve already staked out the field, discussed using an FM system with the instructor (and prayed that I didn’t get opposition to Jayden participating – but if an NFL team can make changes for a player, suburban sports should be able to roll with it!), got Jayden new ear hooks on his hearing aids so they are nice and tight, etc.  It also gets my brain thinking of what he might encounter when playing a team sport – will he be able to hear what the coach is saying and follow the instructions?  Will he learn the rules properly?  Can he hear the whistle blown?  What if another kid calls out to him on the field to pass him the ball or for his turn?  Will he get sweaty running around and will it affect his hearing aids?  Not to mention the stress of what could happen to his costly hearing aids if he falls/gets bumped into, etc.

This is why I feel so encouraged when I read the stories of those deaf and hard of hearing athletes.  Whether these athletes realize it or not they are setting examples not just for kids, but for their parents as well.  Seeing what these athletes have gone through helps give me a glimpse of what types of challenges Jayden will have to overcome in order to play organized sports, and reassures me that he can do it and that it is possible to play sports with a hearing impairment.

I am happy that Jayden will have these players to look up to as he grows – It reminds me of how my sports fanatic brother had memorized his “Great Jews in Sports” book growing up, feeling a sense of pride and looking up to all the (short list of) Jews who had “made it” in professional sports.  With a sports-fan husband who is intent on his son being involved in sports, we have every intention of getting Jayden involved should he want to pursue it (and who knows Kiddie Soccer could show us we have a future Pele on our hands…)  In everything Jayden has done so far, he continues to set his bar high, succeeding despite his disability, with assistance from his “team” – and I am sure “kiddie soccer” and playing sports will be no different.   Let’s hope that his biggest challenge as he starts soccer this week is that he can figure out that the goal is not a play tent that you hide in and that you don’t touch a soccer ball with your hands!

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“They are my hearing aids”

Today was a milestone for Jayden.  When on a playdate, a fellow almost four year old asked him what was in his ears.  In the past, I’ve explained it in a child-friendly way to the kid who asks, but after I prompted him to tell her what was in his ears, he said very matter-of-factly “They are my Hearing Aids.”  I said to tell her why you wear them and he said “So that I can hear everything, like birds chirping.”  I can’t express how proud this made me feel. He is getting to an age where his peers are starting to notice that he wears things in his ears and the fact that he was able to tell someone with confidence and full eye contact was so incredible to see.  As he gets older I am sure it will come up more often and I can only hope that he still feels as matter-of-fact about them and that the response he gets from the other kids is as simple as the satisfied “oh, ok” response that he got today.

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