Jacob and Elijah Shaddox are brothers. Jacob is 21 years old and just moved into an apartment with his girlfriend. He graduated from a technical college with an Associate's degree in Computer Maintenance. He works for a school district as a computer technician. Elijah is almost 18 years old. He is hearing impaired, has Tourette Syndrome, OCD and ADHD. He is a junior in high school. Elijah lives with his mom Mary and her wife, his stepmom. Mary has a bachelor's in deaf education and a masters in special education, and is an educational diagnostician. Life is always changing and this blog has chronicled many of these changes and will continue to do so!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Being Deaf!

Elijah still sleeps with me most nights and as he slept last night, I sat in bed and listened to my ipod on a speaker. He slept right through it of course, and as I sat there I thought, sometimes it is nice that he can't hear. He sleeps through most everything, which scares me if there is ever a fire, which is one reason I let him sleep with me if he wants to. I know, I know, I shouldn't let him, but I do, so lets not argue about it.

Anyway, it made me think about his deafness. Elijah is a boy, who happens to be deaf, but wears cochlear implants(CI). The CIs help him hear and access language. They are a tool, but he is still deaf. He takes his CI processors off without hesitation when it is time to bathe, swim, play in the sprinklers or at the beach. He is comfortable being deaf and I am glad of that. He knows enough sign that I can communicate what I need to with him and he voices back to me. If I really have to tell him something, or he is misbehaving, then I put his "ears" back on and tell him what I need to.

The last time we went to a water park, we locked his "ears" up in a locker. I am so afraid someone will steal them thinking they are headphones. We stopped to eat lunch and Elijah voices to me, "NO ears, I want to stay." I signed back to him, "yes swim, eat, eat first," and pointed to the food. He said YES and stopped to eat. Now, the only reason I don't like for him to not have his "ears"(processors) is that he cannot hear me if his back is to me. I have to be a bit more diligent, but also let him have his independence. Thankfully, this is a small water park and I can let him wonder a little bit on his own while keeping an eye on him from a distance. Sometimes I have to jump in when others try to communicate with him, because he doesn't quite know how to tell others he can't hear. Plus, I find that younger kids just don't get the concept that someone who talks can't hear. They give me a quizzical look when I tell them he can't hear.

Elijah loves the beach and I hope we can go to the beach this summer for vacation. One of the first things he does is take off his "ears" and head for the water. He is almost TOO brave! He has learned to stick close too though and not wander off.

Overall, I am glad that Elijah is comfortable being deaf without his "ears". Just this morning he woke up and headed for the den. He didn't grab his processors and I could hear him in the other room playing with his cars and talking to the cats. He then starts yelling for me and of course, if I answer he cannot hear me. I wait and after a few more yells, I get up and grab his "ears" to put them on!

Would it be easier if Elijah could hear all the time....well yes, it would be, but then he might not be the Elijah he is now. I don't worry as much about him learning language and getting things right. I look back at how much I used to worry and sometimes wonder HOW did we get where we are now? Of course, now I have other worries, but I think those will work out as he gets older, at least I hope so.

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