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!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Sounds We Hear

I have worked with deaf children for going on 20 years this school year. For the first nine years of this I worked with only at school. Teaching them to listen and speak. Teaching them language skills and using both sign and speech to do this. I worked with middle and high school students, so I got them when they usually had a pretty good language base.

My work with babies started when Elijah arrived. He was born nine weeks early and at the age of five weeks he failed his first hearing test. It was confirmed four weeks later and my life changed forever. My life became about getting him language, first with sign, and later with sound when he got his cochlear implant. Elijah's hearing loss was at 110 decibels which meant he couldn't hear a train horn if it went off right beside him.

Elijah got his first CI at the age of 18 months(turn on) and a second one at the age of four and a half. My world became about sound. Teaching him what sound was and what sounds things made. Many people are surprised to learn that getting a CI or even a hearing aid for a child born deaf is not like putting on a pair of glasses. A child has to "learn to listen, in order to listen to learn." I had to teach him his name, what a doorbell and telephone sounded like and so on. First he had to even recognize that there was sound and that when you hear a sound it means something.

It has been almost nine years this October since he got his first CI and it is still a learning process. He knows the majority of the sounds around him, but occasionally he still hears something that he doesn't recognize. I remember the first time thunder scared him, oh the face he made and I had to stop myself from laughing. I was thrilled that it scared him....bad momma! I remember the time he heard the automatic water bowl for the cats(it is a like a fountain and has a resevoir) when it went blurb, blurb, blurb. He was sitting at the table and got a worried look on his face until I told him it was the cat's water bowl. He still rings the doorbell and loves to hear it. He jams to music and can recognize a song from what he me the title if he knows it.

Today was one of those days though where he heard a sound that scared him. We were at McDonald's when someone opened the fire escape door. The alarm went off. I was on one side of the indoor playground, and it was a HUGE one, and he headed around to the exit on the other side. I hear him screaming my name, "MOM, WHERE IS MY MOM?" I see him running, coils off his head, which means he can't hear me. He didn't like the sound of the fire alarm and there are times when I wouldn't mind turning off my hearing myself. He is still a moving,crying and asking where his mom is. I am trying to get to him, but he can't hear me. Another set of parents was close to him and motioned for him to come to them....they would help him. I arrived just as he got to them and I motioned for him to put his ears on. I thanked the couple and explained he couldn't hear without his CIs(not everyone gets that they help him hear) and fortunately they did know what they were. I got his coils back on and explained to him that he cannot take them off, because he cannot hear me when he is looking for me! I felt so bad for him! I think his anxiety with his Tourette's plays in on this too.

This journey of sound is never ending and one that I am glad to be on. Everytime I think we are done, there is a new sound. Sometimes it is not a fun sound to hear, but a sound he does need to learn. I am glad I get to be on this journey with him!


  1. It is my ten year
    anniversary this October since I've been implanted and just like Elijah, I still hear things I do not recognise although I may have heard them before so my family/friends help me with that.

  2. Awww, it sounds bittersweet sometimes.

    I'm lucky enough that DW could hear a bit at birth but, as time is progressing and we're getting closer to getting his aids, I'm starting to realize how much he couldn't hear. Making mistakes with his speech he never used to do and now not recognizing some sounds at all. I am trying to imagine how it will be when he can finally hear correctly, I've found myself wondering what your post has basically said. Will he know what a sound is when he can hear it fully?? Will things scare him that should've before? How will it be for him when he can actually hear us talking to him??

    I'm sorry that your son got so startled but, it's got me daydreaming again. :) I wish I could be in his head and hear the difference to him and know what he'll be thinking!

  3. When will DW get his hearing aids. I hope it all goes well! It will be a process, but he will do fine and enjoy all the sounds he hears.

    Melissa, glad you are able to keep learing new sounds and taht you have family to help you learn those sounds!