It has been a big few weeks in our household. A is more travelled than the rest of our family these days.
He went with the schools gifted and talented trip to Canberra where they spent 3 days looking at all kinds of things. They visited the war memorial, parliament house, old parliament house, the National Gallery, the Australian Institute of Sport and other places of interest in Canberra. Despite being almost 16 years of age, A recognises the huge benefit he gains using his FM in noisy environments. So at a meeting prior to the trip he negotiated with the teacher accompanying them that they would hand the transmitter to each of the people speaking. At the end of the day A would take it back to charge it up overnight. The whole system worked beautifully and he could enjoy standing at the back of the group (where all cool Yr 10 boys stand on these kinds of trips!!) and still hear everything that was said. Using his FM gave him the freedom to just hang with his mates and still benefit from what the speakers were sharing with the group.
On his arrival home, his best friend headed off for a different school camp, the one he will head off on in 2 weeks time. So by the time his friend returned, they had missed out seeing each other for almost 2 weeks. As his friend lives near the school, he wanted to go around and visit even though his friend hadn't been at school that day - too tired after camp no doubt. I told A he would need to call to make sure that was ok first. He picked up the phone in my office and called his friend. I left the room to do some stuff and returned to find him still talking on the phone. Yes they had organised he would go over there and he would actually be there in person in under 30 minutes, but no that didn't mean they should stop talking now. So sitting in my chair, on my phone A is giving me the typical teenager hand waving meaning "go away can't you see I am busy here?" I had plenty of other stuff to do so I left him to it.
When I returned he was off the phone and relaying to me what his friend had said about camp. I listened on as he gave me more and more details of how the camp went and that his friend didn't really think that much of this one compared to previous ones. As I listened to him go on and on and on, a warm glow started from the inside. It started in the cockles of my heart and then it started to spread. It spread all the way down to my toes that tingled in delight. It spread all the way up my body, culminating in the biggest smile across my face. So why was I a grown women, sitting there grinning like a cheshire cat?
It was because when meningitis robbed A of his hearing, and I heard the words "profound hearing loss" and I felt all of my internal organs shake in that soundbooth when we tested at 90dB and yet still he didn't hear it, I was devastated. I feared for him and what his future might hold, I was scared to death that maybe he wouldn't have any friends, he wouldn't be able to go to school with his hearing brother. Granted these were fears from a position of ignorance as to just what is possible, but it is a position that I feel many people who don't have a friend or relative with a hearing loss, may well still believe. At that point I knew nothing about cochlear implants, auditory verbal therapy (AVT), FMs or anything else.
At that time I never dared to dream that what I had just witnessed (my teen chatting on the phone to his friend) might even be possible! I never dared to dream that he would turn into this amazing young man, a young man full of self confidence, achieving both academic and social success in his school. Equally a young man who whilst on the flight home from Canberra generously offered to pay for a fellow student's drink as she had no money left and was feeling unwell with a headache on the flight home.
So for parents just starting out on this journey, may you feel the joy of this post. May you just get a small snapshot into what life may well be like for your child when they reach their teenage dreams. For you as parents, take a moment to catch your breath, but most of all take a moment and dare to dream! Dare to dream about just what is possible for your child.