His speech is a little off…



Below is a letter I sent to a friend back in January 2001 – just after we had taken AC to his 4 yr check up, and at the advice of his Pre-K teacher, I mentioned that she thought his “speech was a little off”. 

This captures the mood… and thoughts of that moment…

Date: 18 January 2001

Hey _____,

I’m feeling a little scared..

I just had my son to the doctors office for his 4 year check up. AC is very healthy – but, I mentioned to her how his preschool teacher commented that his speech was a little difficult to understand sometimes. I knew this, but thought it was normal for his age. But, his doctor said his pronunciation is a little “lazy” for his age… and then we started questioning his hearing because he wouldn’t do the headphone hearing test earlier on in the visit. We tried to get him to do it again – and he either wasn’t hearing very well, didn’t understand what he was suppose to do, or he just didn’t want to do it.

So, his doc suggested I take him for a better evaluation to a hearing and speech center. I already made the appointment for 2/1.  I never noticed or thought he had a hearing problem, but now I’m worried.

I was trying to test him myself today, and it did seem he had difficulty hearing me when I whispered or spoke in lower tones. It’s so hard to tell… and if he does have a problem, I can’t believe I didn’t notice before.  

Once I thought about it, he does have a tendency to say “what?”… and, I never even thought twice about it… We even jokingly called him a “light bulb”… (watt? watt?).

I really hope it’s not his hearing… and just his pronunciation we need to work on. He has the rest of this year, and all of next year before he starts kindergarten, so that is good I guess. If it IS a hearing problem, I really don’t know what that will mean…  and that, I guess, that is what scares me… =(

By the time he went for the next exam I knew… as I mention on my “background page”:

We had to wait 2 weeks before we could get him in for a thorough exam. By the time we went in, I knew he had a hearing loss – but, was hoping it was something temporary. People kept telling me maybe he had a blockage.. or water in his ears. Deep down, I knew better now. He had never had one ear infection. Not one. And, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there were signs all along – we just plain missed them.  When we were looking for them, the were painfully clear.  So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when they told us he did indeed have a mild-moderate hearing loss in both ears (bilateral sensorineural 45db). They said he was probably born with it…”

Do I wish I had known from the get-go?  You betcha! 
(wow… I just had a Sarah Palin flashback there for a seccond…  “you-betcha! *wink* ;)” – yikes!)  
Seriously, I wish I had known… 

Looking back, there were signs…  signs that we all missed. As his mother, I mostly blamed/blame myself for this…  but we all missed signs.  Myself, my husband, the rest of our family and extended family members, friends, doctors, pediatricians…. everyone….  until he started PreK – at a local church… just 2 mornings a week. 

And at that Preschool, one PreK teacher decided to speak up… 
I give her a lot of credit.  It had to be hard to tell a parent that you think there’s something “wrong” with their child. 

I know I didn’t want to hear it at first. We were actually kind of offended and thought she was full of it.  My first reaction was, “Well, of COURSE it’s OFF!  He’s 3!”.  
My father, who lived with us then, echoed my response – “there’s NOTHING wrong with his speech!”, he said defensively (nobody messed with his little buddy).  “I understand EVERYTHING he says!”, his Pa said.  This general opinion was repeated by most of our other friends and family.

Until, I was venting to a good friend of mine about it (LE ) and it was she (a mother of 3 with much more experience than I)  who went against the grain and non-chalantly said to me,

 “you know.  I doubt she (the PreK teacher) said it just to make you mad, or for fun.  She IS a teacher.  She DOES see 100’s of kids.  Maybe you should check it out”.

I remember at first being surprised by this comment. I wasn’t use to my friends not agreeing with me when I vented.  LOL  (It sort of breaks the girlfriend code. ;)  But, I quickly realized she was right.  It should be checked out.  And, so, I told the teacher I’d follow up with his Pediatrician at his next visit – and I did.

The teacher wasn’t aware that it was his hearing…  but, she was right – there WAS a problem… and it really needed to be found out.  Had she not mentioned it, who knows how much longer it would have been before we started getting AC the assistance and understanding he needed?

I wound up bringing that teacher in a big bouquet of flowers after AC got his Hearing Aids…. 



6 Responses

  1. It was Sweet Pea’s preschool teacher who confirmed my own suspicions about her hearing loss. I’ve always given her credit for being so astute; especially when she only saw her for a couple of hours two days a week.

    It’s hard not to guilt yourself into a corner (or worse, into a gallon of ice cream!) but you obviously DID listen, and got him tested, and got him hearing aids and speech therapy…you’re a great mom!!

  2. Kathryn,

    Right… I do give that teacher a lot of credit.

    And I know what you mean… I don’t feel too guilty anymore… but, I did for a while there. You know what they say, ” a mother’s guilt is never done”… ;)


  3. After reading your blog I am astonished that we have such similar stories. I am a mother of 2 boys. We found out last year that my younger son at the age 5 has NO hearing in his left ear. I can tell you that it was nothing less that shocking to find that out but that would come as no surprise to you. I sit here amazed realizing that everything you point out is so truly familiar. The hindsight, the blame game, the guilt and the denial are all the same. “His speech is a little off”!!!! I could have written that same blog. WOw! It is comforting knowing that there IS someone out there that knows exactly what i feel. The challenge I face now is getting the help that he needs to reach his full potential. Thanks for telling your story. I know that we can both find strength knowing that we arent the only Moms going through this.

  4. Hi Tracy –
    Thanks for kind words. It’s always nice to meet others that you can relate too. The Internet is great like that. I wish I had the resources I do now, all along.

    One of the things someone said to me that made me feel better when we first found out about our son was, “well, he’s already doing so well… in spite of your not knowing about his hearing loss – now that you DO know – he can only be that much better for it and really take off”. And, AC IS doing very well. He’s 11 now, and doing excellent in school and just your average happy kid.

    If you can, please share more about what happens next with your son. Every hearing loss situation is so different….

    Take care,

  5. Thank you for this and other blogs. My son Thorn was diagnosed at age 4 with bilateral mild/moderate SNHL that he was most likely born with. I never saw the signs and felt like an idiot for missing it. I blamed myself for so long and now I’m immersing myself daily in things I can do as a parent to help him. Your story is so reassuring because I know you now have a happy healthy normal preteen boy and it has all worked out well….VERY reassuring for me. Thorn now has BTE aids and we are working on an IEP to help with his verbal delays. Your blogs are awesome! Thanks again!

  6. Hi Dee =)
    Thanks for the comments. I could relate to the guilty feelings you mentioned. And, it sounds like your son was diagnosed at the same age as mine was and all. Wow.

    I wish I had the internet and all these sites, groups, etc., (or knew about them if they didn indeed exisit) 8 years ago. I remember feeling so alone back then – like we were the only family out there with a child that was hard of hearing. Of course, that wasn’t true – but, it can feel like that. If my blog is helping you feel less like that in any way – that really makes me feel good. So, thanks. =)

    How old is Thom now? I hope all is going great.

    Take care,

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