About a Boy (Who Happens to Have One-Sided Deafness)

Please allow me a blog post to BRAG on our youngest little man. He is 8 1/2 and has been home with his forever family for 45 months now. He spent his first 60 months of life on earth in China in a rural orphanage. Statistics show that most institutionalized children will exhibit one month of delay for every 3 months spent in an institution. For our little dude, that translates to 20 months of delay or him being roughly 3 /12 years developmentally when he came home. He was far from it, testing at around 2 years developmentally that first summer home.

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He is such a little love. Actually, he is becoming a big little love, and I predict will be taller than his Momma by the time he reaches double digits.

But back to this boy, who does happen to be deaf in one ear. If you’d like to read more about unilateral deafness, ASHA has a great page that sums it up and helps others to know what to look for in a young child who might be unilaterally deaf.

Little man or Li’l Dude or Li’l Bro as of late is very active, full of life, takes things literal, takes life as it comes most of the time, loves deeply and never says “I quit.” He is always ready to lend a smile and always ready to lend a hand. He is truly a joy to most who know him and those who meet him too.

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In June 2010, when we met him in Chongqing, China, I’ll be honest in saying, I really thought he couldn’t speak and might never speak. Little did we know that he is actually unilaterally deaf. Back then in the early days home, I shared a transparent post about that journey in the early days. I don’t really think his caregivers knew about his deafness. He hides it very well. It never really occurred to us while in China that his hearing might actually be behind his behaviors, that at the time we perceived as very odd even with our knowledge of institutional delays.

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Maybe hide isn’t the best word, but most people would never know other than he talks really loud, will turn or tilt his head, and also reads lips (which most of us wouldn’t notice but he does it very well according to the experts).

As for my bragging, I am just astounded at his reading and how he has taken OFF in the last few months. I thought this time a year ago and two years ago–sigh–that he would never learn to read. I really did, though I never voiced that to him or on the blog.

Here’s a video snippet from May 2012:

I have since told him how proud I am of his never-give-up attitude and how hard he has worked.

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Photo taken last month at LEGO shop in Downtown Disney. The Hulk’s got nothing on our Li’l Bro!

I know it is a great effort on the part of the vast majority of children to read, but imagine not being able to hear at all in one ear and for 5+ years, and on top of that learning a totally new language at 5? To say the deck was stacked against him is an understatement. I also shared on another post about how we have dealt with finding out our youngest son is deaf in one ear. It might be helpful to someone to read it.

Since that post and those early days in China, I have come to realize that deafness is a difference and it does affect someone’s life. But as with all the other needs we personally encounter in our family, deafness does NOT define our son.

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This past Friday night after a call into the after-hours line and a brief conversation with the ENT on call, my DH headed to the big city with our youngest son whose surgical site was infected. NO!!!!! Some of you may remember me mentioning awhile back that our son’s first BAHA abutment had failed two years post-op. This was a setback to put it mildly. To put it in another frame of reference, it was devastating to us and especially to him.

So in December, the Prez headed to the hospital with Li’l Bro to have another go at this BAHA abutment. Without the abutment, his BAHA is a useless, albeit very expensive piece of sound processing equipment. Everything was looking good and we were counting down the days until he could actually wear his BAHA again. He hasn’t worn it since in November when the abutment became loose and soon after fell out. May seemed like a long way off in November and now we aren’t sure what will come next with it.

I will warn you in advance that the following video is graphic, but it is absolutely fascinating. If you have ever wondered like me what exactly a BAHA abutment is and how it is inserted into the skull, forge ahead. But be forewarned, the video involves a scalpel, skin flaps, tissue being removed, drills in skulls and blood. 😀 I know I’m weird, but I like to see what has been done with my kids.

So all of this has been mostly about the special need of deafness our son has and continues to overcome and live with, but this post is going to be about more. Li’l Bro is very artistic and did I mention how well he is reading and speaking? Just take a look!

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By the way, he drew these freehand while at church during the pastor’s message. And the reading, here’s another video from this past September, the 30th day of September 2013 in fact.

Finally, I took this next one on January 24, 2014, a little less than 4 months later. What astounds me the most is that this final video was taken when Li’l Bro had been without the aid of his BAHA for 4 months, and he is deaf in one ear without it. You GO LI’L BRO!

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7 thoughts on “About a Boy (Who Happens to Have One-Sided Deafness)

  1. Sooooo happy for the progress, boo for the infection:(
    Love his art work, I have a 9 yr old who LOVES to draw too, and the things they come up with!!!,
    Hugs to you

  2. Love the art skillz!!!! What doors that can open for him in his big wide future 🙂

    As the momma to a girly who has unilateral deafness, I GET all this and more. I GET YA. We haven’t done the abutment surgery, Lil Empress wears her BAHA on a soft band and so far we only make her wear it at school. I’m thinking it might need to come out at home once things settle here a bit with Mei Mei’s surgeries and so forth. Might be a partial contributor to the increase in anxiety we have seen since her sister came home in April. It’s nice to give her a break from the noise too tho. She gets “input overload” WAAAAY easier than the other kids so I’m trying to remmember that as we adjust to our new normal of 8 bodies in one house 🙂

    HUGS to you and your gang there.

  3. Kudos to you and your teaching methods. I cannot believe the dramatic changes in his reading within just a few months. The Lord wants this child to succeed and he is laying the way to make that happen. I know you are so proud of litle bro!

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