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Meet A.J.

Aimee writes about finding out her son A.J. had a hearing loss. Contact us if you want to write to Aimee or ask her a question.

A difficult pregnancy
I was 17 when I got pregnant with my oldest. I had a rough pregnancy: I had my appendix out and I had preterm labor. I also wound up getting toxemia.

I delivered 6 weeks early with a C-section. When A.J. was first born, I remember having such a smile of happiness. As time progressed, he didn't seemed to be delayed with walking, but he wasn't talking real well. But of course, the doctors always say, "Give it time, he will get there." And so I did.

three boys

The 1st signs of hearing loss
I noticed more and more he was getting everything I did with my hands, but he wasn't getting speech. He wasn't slow or anything, but he definitely wasn't getting it. We went to the ENT and the audiologist. The audiologist said A.J. had fluid in his ears, so we needed tubes.

Things seemed good for a while. Then, around 18 months we noticed he wasn't responding to his name, and if we took him out to places he got wild. We observed things, but didn't want to overreact.

At 19 months a scary thing happened. A.J. had found a little people's sheep on the ground. When he bent over to pick it up, he cut his hand on some glass. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my second child, so while I was off-balance and getting a wipe out of my bag to make it better, A.J. did something I would never have imagined - he took off across Roosevelt Boulevard. I was running and screaming "Stop!" and cars were honking. Nothing - no reaction, no pause, no startle, nothing. That's when it hit me: he can't hear.

Finding out A.J. had a hearing loss
I immediately went to his pediatrician. We went back to see the audiologist and A.J. had hearing loss. Not from fluid - real hearing loss. It hit me so hard. It was like, "God, this isn't fair." It felt strange - my kid was different. It was even harder because I was dealing with my own pain and my husband was in denial. He said some crazy things like, "My son will never wear hearing aids." We fought about this. I thought to myself, "What? His son was his son, with or without hearing aids." After he knew he lost that battle, he said, "By the time my kid is in 2nd grade, he'll be too cool for hearing aids." This struck me as funny - this isn't a pair of sneakers, this is a hearing aid!

Getting hearing aids
When we did the fitting for them, A.J. was a monster - he ripped them out and fought. I thought, "God, I want to cry like him." I thought about how his life would be, and how cruel people can be, and I was like going through this big process, and not knowing what door to go to. Christine, his audiologist, was great. She was sweet, and gave him a choice of ear molds. He chose 1 red ear mold and 1 blue one. I think this was when I realized he could care less who sees them, because he picked the brightest colors at the time, and was very proud of them.

He always loved getting his ear molds changed. He picked some crazy colors, but he loved them because they were his and he knew he could hear. One time he picked florescent colors, green and pink. I hesitated, but he said pick for the Power Rangers, and I thought, "OK, a multicolor thing, great." When they arrived, they were mostly pink. My husband was very upset. "Pink, why did you let him pick pink?" And I simply said, "Because they're his, and he loves them."

Starting preschool
A.J. went to Head Start and SPIN for his preschool classes. He loved SPIN where all the kids in his class were just like him. But he loved Head Start, too, and he had to learn no one deals with just hearing impaired people. He liked both worlds, and seemed to fit in with both, too. I remember coming to pick him up one day and all the kids had Legos behind their ears. I laughed, and it made me so happy these kids in his Head Start wanted to be just like him, so Legos were the next best thing.

Raising our children the same
A.J. has what they call progressive hearing loss - he loses some hearing here and there slowly. We had 2 boys, 1 hearing and 1 not. We raised them mostly the same. One needed more assistance, but for the most part, they both played sports and had friends and they participate in Boy Scouts.

Our 3rd child, and seeing the signs of hearing loss again
When our 3rd child was born I knew at birth that he had a hearing loss. I had him screened, but the test said he was hearing. I don't know if it was God telling me or what, I just knew he wasn't. He didn't startle. The doctors thought I was just worried, and I had him tested and still negative.

By the time he was 18 months, the same pattern - no speech, a wild temper, and he would go nuts in over-stimulating situations. But it wasn't, "Hey, I am bad." You could see he had this need to be heard. It was frustration, and I knew the signs.

The future is bright
He was diagnosed as I was switching hospitals with my oldest. I no longer agreed with the ENT department, and so I switched to [another hospital]. I am happy there, and yes, Aaron is hearing impaired, too. He goes to a school for the deaf, and has the same hearing loss. We now know it wasn't me being young, or the prematurity, or anything we did. It is hereditary progressive hearing loss and we are OK. We now see the bright future all our sons will have, as long as we teach them to keep their heads up and smile, and treat them all the same.

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