A Payoff Beyond Words - Grandparents on the LSL Journey
By Hearing First Team September 7, 2017
Read the story of a grandparent of a child with hearing loss and how she is finding her place on the LSL journey alongside her grandson!
Grandparents can be an especially important part of the LSL life and have unique roles for their grandchildren learning to listen and talk. Read the story of Janice Manlove, better known as Memaw to grandson Harrison, about how she’s embracing the LSL life, challenges and all!
What an exciting time in my life! I retired as an elementary principal and my husband and I moved and purchased a home only five minutes from my daughter, Lora, who was expecting her second baby boy. Harrison was born on June 3rd, and we moved into our new home on June 23rd. Of course, love occurred at first sight, as with all my precious grandchildren.
Lora was concerned about Harrison’s hearing in the hospital since he did not startle from any loud noises when nursing. She was greatly relieved when informed that he passed his newborn hearing screening. Harrison was not a happy baby. Little did we know, he had acid reflux which we attributed to inconsolable crying.
I was honored with babysitting Harrison while his mom was working. That first year was quite a challenge for all of us. When he had just turned one-year-old, he was staying at a friend’s house. When I arrived to pick him up, he had his back turned to me. I began calling his name and continued until I was right behind him. He did not turn or respond. I remember taking him home to his mom and telling her with tears in my eyes that I knew he couldn’t hear.
Tubes were put in ears with no positive results, and then testing was completed which confirmed significant hearing loss. Lora was such a trooper. I have concluded that Mom’s must be brave, but Memaws, not so much. I was completely baffled that I, having practiced as an educational diagnostician and my daughter with a masters degree in clinical nursing hadn’t detected Harrison’s hearing issues.
Looking back, I truly believe that at this early age, Harrison had learned to read lips and pick up on any gestures. He would also do things like dance to the musical toys, but they also had flashing lights.
And thus, began our journey of intervention with our special angel. Lora did her research and contacted a speech and hearing center. I will never forget our first visit when the supervising therapist asked Lora what she wanted for Harrison. She replied, “I want him to be just like any other child, going to a regular school and be successful in a regular classroom.” She was told very passionately that this outcome was possible as miracles occurred at this center on a daily basis.
At eighteen months, Harrison received his first cochlear implant and therapy became a high priority. We were so blessed to live within driving distance of the center, but still an hour out. Lora worked and had Harrison’s older brother, Scott, to tend to, so I gladly took Harrison to the majority of the therapy sessions. I remember those first couple of years, immersing Harrison in language, identifying every possible sound that might be occurring in his world. There literally was not quiet time. We also read book after book and engaged in the local library’s lap time reading. Our therapist was awesome and was full of so many engaging activities for Harrison. I remember having fun with categorizing animals into either a bowl of ice, water, or sand.
By age two and a half, Harrison lost decibels in his other ear and received his second cochlear implant. Shortly after, Harrison attended the weekly Pre-K school for the littles. He began to develop speech and it was wonderful to hear him express himself. At age four, he attended regular Pre-K in a public school and excelled. He has continued to progress and will be in fourth grade when school starts this year.
I love each of my grandchildren to the moon and back, but I have to admit that there is a special bond between Harrison and me. I am so thankful that I have gotten to be a part of his journey. I truly believe that God brought us to live five minutes from Harrison for this very reason.
My fellow grandparents, I encourage you to make every effort to support your grandchild that has a hearing issue. Be there to pick up the slack when things get hard for your own child in this time-consuming journey. The payoff is beyond words, no pun intended!
Ready to hear more about Janice’s LSL journey with her grandson? Here’s a video of LSL learner Harrison reading Green Eggs and Ham while celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday!
As you’ve heard, words can be powerful! As the parent, family member or friend of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, one of the most significant things you can do is share your story with others. Every LSL journey is different, and your story can equip, encourage, empower and inspire another family just when they need it most! Share your LSL stories with other families on journeys similar to yours in the Family Support Community. You never know how it can help provide the support and inspiration they need!