There are so many people that have come in and out of life and the lives of my children. I was emailing one of Elijah's former teachers and several friends about Elijah's last IEP(ARD meeting as it is called here in Texas) and started thinking about all of the people that have touched our lives. I started thinking of all of the people I would not have met if not for the path that I was put on by my children.
First let me say that my mother is and continues to be my strongest support! All of my family is such a support, but my mother has always been there for me! She continues to be there and is a great grandmother to my two boys!
It seems like most of my blogs focus on Elijah. He is the one with most of the issues and who keeps me the busiest. However, Jacob is my firstborn and the light of my life. He is such a great big brother! I have met many great people due to him being on soccer teams or having great friends! He is such a typical kid that he has not need as much support as his brother has. I think that is a good thing! He will continue to bring people into my life through his life! I also think having a brother who is NOT typical has made him a more compassionate person and one who will step in and help others as needed.
Now my Elijah, well he is a different story. He came into this world 8 weeks early and has kept me busy since his birth. The first few years of his birth were a blurr. We had so many doctor's appointments. One audiologist, Leslie, who we saw on Elijah second hearing test(at the age of 4 months) is still in our life. She is still his audiologist and turned on his second cochlear implant. Jennifer was the audiologist who turned on his first implant and I just saw her at a workshop the other day. She now works for the cochlear implant company that manufactures Elijah's implants. She still asks about him and loves to hear updates! These two are not just audiologists but people who have taken a true interest in Elijah. There is also the surgeon who implanted Elijah. We don't see him as often, but he always says hello and listens to updates on Elijah's progress.
My former supervisor was our Early Childhood person who worked with me when Elijah was an infant in regards to his hearing loss. Even though I was and still am a teacher of the deaf, I had never worked with infants. She was a great help. Elijah's private auditory verbal therapist never gave up on him, even though he didn't make the typical progress that most CI children make!
Elijah has had some great teachers and I have not forgotten any of them. Jamie, Kara, Sarah, Deborah and Tina were his deaf ed. teachers in the local deaf ed. program. He was not an easy child, but they worked with me in all areas. I still keep in touch with many of them and and keep them up to date on Elijah's progress.
Elijah has had two great teachers in our home district who have helped us with behavior. We have learned about Tourette's together and we communicate very well.
I have also made SO MANY friends online. I have emailed and talked to other parents of children with auditory neuropathy, hearing loss, children with cochlear implants, children with tourette syndrome. Elaine helped me so much in the beginning to learn about auditory neuropathy. She encouraged me to seek out Dr. Berlin in New Orleans and get his adivce on cochlear implants for Elijah. She continues to be my friend and we keep in touch almost daily through the internet. Dr. Berlin is someone else who touched our lives and took a personal interest in Elijah. He was instrumental in helping Elijah get implanted. Val in Alabama and Eva in Canada are two good friends online that I chat with about hearing loss. Michelle is a new friend that I chat with about Elijah's tourette syndrome.
How different would my life be if Elijah wasn't who he is? When I get down or sad about how things are going, and wonder what my life would be like IF Elijah wasn't deaf....IF he didn't have tourettes....I also remember that I would not have met these people. Would I like that life?
Having both Jacob and Elijah has made me a better teacher. I have more patience than I ever thought I could have. I have learned to advocate for my children as well as myself. I am who I am because of those around me and I wouldn't trade any of them in or change a thing.
THE SHADDOX BOYS
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!