Baruch Hashem I am a mother to four wonderful children. They did not come to us easily (the difficulties we experienced in the process of trying to have children is a story in itself), so we are exceptionally grateful and appreciative of G-d’s gifts.
I write this letter with the hope that perhaps another set of parents can be spared the anguish we lived through with our third child, a son, who was born premature.
Nothing to be alarmed about – he would catch up in no time, I was assured, but for now we were to expect a slower developmental process.
For this reason, we suspected nothing extraordinary about our little boy being more “reserved” than our other children. He was softer-spoken – that is, when he spoke at all – and from early on he seemed to prefer solitude as opposed to mingling with his siblings or other children.
At eight months of age, with the guidance of our doctor, our son began to receive speech and occupational therapy. He was a good child who did not complain much about anything, with a shy smile that was enough to melt one’s heart. Perhaps that is why no one paid much heed to his quietness and lack of interaction with other children. In fact, he was adored by everyone who came in contact with him, including his rebbe who didn’t seem to be too concerned about his adorable pupil’s lack of exuberance for much of anything.
As his mother, I was increasingly uncomfortable with the level of my son’s intellectual progress. True, there are average children, bright children, and underachievers, yet to me something seemed not quite right. I was not ready to write my son off as slow-minded, for his eyes and a mother’s intuition told me a very different story.
At about the age of three-and-a-half, I scheduled an appointment with our family pediatrician for a general overall exam. At one point in his thorough once-over, the doctor remarked, “I feel very sorry for this child; he does not hear.”
I was floored. How could that be? He’d been examined before – and despite his mellowness, he certainly seemed to be aware of the goings on around him. Surely his therapists would have had some indication
An audiologist made things more clear to us by explaining that our son’s hearing impairment was due to fluid in the ear canals and could be likened to the sensation one experiences when getting off a plane, before the ear pops to restore one’s normal level of hearing.
Suddenly things fell into place – our son’s lack of verve, his seeming preference to be alone, his low-key temperament, etc. He had been living in a “muffled” environment and was reacting accordingly.
An appointment was immediately scheduled for a minor surgical procedure, to have drainage tubes inserted. My son came home the same day and slept for a while (he had received anesthesia). When he awoke, his older brothers and I were in his room. Our little boy suddenly sat up and addressed his oldest sib in an uncharacteristically confident tone: “You know, I can hear you much louder now than I did before.” Never had we heard him speak up so assertively. I began to cry with sheer relief, and my heart ached at his deprivation of so much time gone by.
Our bright, bubbly and talkative son will be four soon, and we thank G-d every day for the miracles He sends our way. Thank you for listening and for helping others “hear” advice that can ease their suffering and improve their quality of life.
“Listen” to your children
The rough times you have weathered have obviously made you more attuned to your children, as well as more mindful and appreciative of Hashem’s benevolence.
Thank you for giving our readers an “earful.” Hopefully, your story will save others who find themselves in similar circumstances from experiencing the prolonged anxiety that you were faced with.
May we all merit to hear the sound of the shofar that will herald the arrival of a new dawn and complete healing for each and every one of our precious children.