I often forget that Isla is deaf. It isn’t something that overwhelms our lives. The show must go on, and as a family we have done a great job of moving forward. However, I am astonished how sneaky, deaf babies can be. To look at, to talk to, to play with… she is exactly the same as a hearing baby. The coos, the babbles, the cheeky grins and smiles. The side-eye looks, and grumpy faces and growls! To most people, they don’t even realize that she is not hearing them. But there is one difference….a huge, disturbing difference and if you’ve been fortunate enough to be around Isla, you will know how she is different from a hearing baby.
She is LOUD.
Whether it is babbling, growling, humming, blowing rasberrys or getting stressed out, all the communication she attempts is done at a volume she can hear. After all, she thinks we all can’t hear, so she’s doing us a favor right? The fact that, although she is deaf, as a human, she has an overwhelming desire to have to and want to communicate, and it’s amazing. I always assumed that if you live in a silent world, you would assume being mute would be the normal, but fortunately, we are formed to communicate vocally!
I mean, it’s not big deal. As I’m sure with the implants she won’t dare try and cry at 80 decibels. The child’s going to blow her own head off! But for now, it’s just something we have to deal with. It’s not as if we can encourage her to keep the noise down, she won’t hear and understand our request of volume change… after all, what’s volume?
although loud now, I have heard that at around 8 months, she will start to give up. After 8 months of waiting for auditory response, from anything or anyone, she will begin to assume that things just don’t make noises. How sad is that? Of course, she will not give up on those who make sense, but for others, she will. But in retrospect, this is only going to be for 4 months of her life… 4 months she won’t ever remember. After all, as a grown child to adult, Isla will never remember being deaf before her surgery.
My daily hints and tips to keep her engaged;
- Using sign language/makaton- I practice ‘mummy’, ‘milk’, and ‘hello’… all day. All things that I believe she is starting to associate with the correct actions. What I don’t do is confuse her. I sign mummy, because I am mummy. For anyone coming into contact with a deaf Baby, do not sign mummy, if you are not their mum, or doggy, or milk, if you don’t have milk. Why would you sign daddy to her, your not her dad lol! You may think it’s really smart, but try and view deaf babies as them being able to speak a foreign language. You wouldn’t go up to a Spanish, hearing baby, and just say daddy, would you!? I can’t help but laugh out loud!
- Lots of movement, and facial expressions. Luckily, Isla has been blessed with an extremely animated sister and mother, so we don’t have to do too much, but make sure she can see you, don’t interact while looking at your phone, or talking to someone else. She really does need to see your whole face- after all, you are teaching her the lip movements to certain words and expressions. I try to really not show her any bad habits while talking to her, no eating and talking, and no biting nails.
- Give her space and time. Apparently, deaf babies will deliberately not make eye contact if they don’t want to communicate with you. Her main form of communication is making eye contact. A white wall, to a non hearing Baby is the same as white noise to a hearing Baby.
Its not robust…. I know. I’ve only been doing this 7 weeks. If you do have experience, any hints, tips or knowledge to offer then please do get in contact.