Hearing loss is a neurological emergency. If parents choose a listening and spoken language outcome for their child, time is of the essence, and the to-do list is immense: get a full audiological evaluation, fit hearing technology, aggressively manage that technology to make sure it’s doing what it should, make sure the child wears the technology all waking hours, find a good Auditory Verbal Therapist, attend therapy, talk talk talk, read read read, sing sing sing, advocate, fight with insurance, learn a bunch of new jargon, talkreadsing some more… and, oh, don’t forget all of the other responsibilities of your life, either. They’re still there, waiting for you at the end of the day when you’re exhausted and never want to talk, read, OR sing another word in your life.
But we as professionals don’t always see this. In fact, some of us rarely see this side of it. We are so caught up in the “neurodevelopmental emergency” and our checklist of best practices that we fail to acknowledge that while, YES, what we are recommending is evidence-based and important and vital and helping get the family closer to their desired outcome of a child who can listen, talk, read, and communicate with the world at large, it is still HARD. We see parents “not following through” or “not participating” or “seeming stuck” instead of parents who are doing their best at a very difficult and stressful task.
Sometimes we just need to shut up with our suggestions and realize that it’s not what we’re asking that needs to change, but how. Sometimes you just need to say three words: THIS IS HARD. You don’t need to convince, rationalize, or make it better. Parenting is tough. Acknowledge that. Parenting a child with hearing loss launches parents into a world that 95% of them didn’t even know existed before that first ominous audiology report. Acknowledge that what you’re asking is a lot. That doesn’t mean it’s not vital or important, but it is also very hard.
Parents, if no one’s ever told you, I am here to say that I SEE YOU in the struggle. You are doing HARD THINGS every single day for your precious little people. And that’s what truly excellent people do. They see a HARD THING and they do it anyway. Not every day, not every time, not perfectly, and not without tears, but they DO HARD THINGS. YOU do them. I see you doing them every day. I SEE you, and seeing you makes me a better person and therapist just for having known you.