Journey Into Deafness

Alexandrea Nicole Venable was born on December 26, 1994.   She was born healthy, with no complication.  Believe it or not, the actual labor was only about one hour from the first push to the doctor cutting to cord.

Alex came home and was a very happy baby.   She did not fuss much at all unless it was food time or changing time.   She did love to sleep wrapped up tightly in her blanket.   If she was loose, she fussed until we fixed it.

As Alexandrea grew up, Lara and I marked the milestones as most parents do.   First time to roll over, sit up, barf on daddy.  You know, the really important stuff.

We did not have any reason to suspect there was a problem with Alexandrea's hearing until about eight to ten months of age.   My wife and I had read in parenting books that children love to bang on pots and pans. On day, Lara set out some pots and pans for Alex to beat on with wooden spoons.  Alex showed no interest in it.
I became concerned.

For a while, I would walk up behind Alex and call her name. Sometimes she would turn and sometimes she would not.  Looking back, I figure she must have turned on some occasions because she felt the vibrations in the floor. After all, when you weight as much as me, it is hard to sneak up.

Still, Lara and I took Alexandrea to her doctor and expressed our concern about her hearing.   The doctor explained that they do not worry about hearing until the children are two years of age.

That is CRAZY!!!!!!!

After further concern and discussion, an initial audio gram was arranged.  At this meeting, the audiologist told my wife that Alex either had a very serious problem, or she was very stubborn.

Considering the family she comes from, I thought it was choice number two.  But an ABR test was scheduled for a month down the road.
We were told that this would let us know exactly what we were dealing with.

This was a very long month.   Lara and I both went crazy.   It was around the forth of July.

At the big picnic, while the fireworks were lighting up the sky, I remember how my daughter looked at the lights in awe,  while all the other kids her age cried because of the loud noise. 

My heart sank.

The week prior to the ABR,  we took a little break by driving down to a lake.  As we walked around this lake community, talking about how the results of the upcoming test would impact or lives,  my spirit was lifted.

Being so many miles away from home,  we bumped into a young lady that I knew.  She had been a student in one of my science classes a couple of years earlier.   She had a hearing impairment, but had been one of the most outstanding students I have ever had.   On this day, she was the teacher.   Just by being where she was,  she reminded me that God would   tend to it.

After the trip, we returned to the ABR.   Our baby was put to sleep and had wires hooked to her head.   The doctor told us it would be a while and suggested we walk to the cafe.

After about a forty-five minute wait,   we returned to the audiologist.
By this time, both Lara and I knew what was going   to be said to us. Still, it did not make it any easier.

The audiologist started off by telling us that this was the
hardest news he really ever has to give parents in his position.
Alexandrea has a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.

I understand that it may have been hard of the doc,  but is was no walk in the park for us either.   Even thought we knew, we were still hoping
we were wrong.

Alex was first diagnosed as being deaf when she was about 18 months old, even though we knew something was up about 12 months.  Since then an organization called the
First Steps Program

stepped in and helped us with all the expenses.  I would encourage everyone with a child who has a learning delay of any type to contact this group in their area.

Since then, we have looked at
Central Institute for the Deaf

St. Joseph's Institute
The Moog Oral School

here in St. Louis
All three of them are excellent oral educators for the deaf.  We have tried to use hearing aids with Alexandrea,  with very little progress.

Alex has now had a
Cochlear Implant

Lara and I have read all about Oral Ed. verses Sign verses Total Communication.

We can call it the
Great Debate

in Deaf education.

We have made the very personal decision that we need to give Alexandrea every opportunity to communicate as best she can with as many people as possible.  This can best be accomplished if we try go give her as much hearing as possible.