For those of you who don’t know me or are new to read here, I worked in a public school system for almost 15 years. We moved and I had to give up my job. I loved it though and could probably go back and do anything I’d ever done and know what to do. There is nothing like working with kids everyday. It was very rewarding and I loved it and I got to be with one of my boys or the other while they grew up.
I had talked for a few years about volunteering in our local school which happens to have my granddaughter, a 3rd grader and my youngest grandson, a preschooler there. I went in at the beginning of the year and left my name and phone number and told them I’d be happy to help out at any time.
I waited and waited for them to call. There were major budget cuts and I knew they’d need and want help. So the call came and they asked me if I could come in and help with the vision and hearing tests. I was very excited and couldn’t wait to go. I got to meet my grandchildren at the door and wish them a good day.
I was placed in the hearing room. It was a soundproof room with one other person and we did two kids at a time. I was with a woman who had three kids at the school and she was very nice. A quiet person who did the job very well. We blended together nicely. If one of us finished before the other, we just sat quietly and waited for the other to finish. If a child failed one of the 4 pitches in either ear, they were to be marked to be re-tested. So if someone didn’t hear it the first time, we would go back once they got the swing of things and see if they could hear it the second time around. Some of the younger kids were very nervous so they wouldn’t always hear it the first time.
I’d made a “lunch date” with my granddaughter. As long as I was there, I knew she’d love for me to eat with her and the other woman wanted to eat with her kids so for 20 minutes I was with someone else. Her kids ate before my granddaughter. LET ME TELL YOU, I’m so glad it was only for 20 minutes. This second woman was loud and very obnoxious. She acted like the whole thing was a race. She didn’t give the young nervous kid the benefit of a second chance and just wanted to “be done before me.” Give me a break. This was important.
Some of these kids were so funny and it was fun to watch the different reactions that some of the kids had. We would go from one ear to the other and not tell them and if they were getting tested in one ear, they would raise that hand and when you’d switch, they’d be ready with that hand and quickly raise that one and then raise the other one. Almost like you had to raise the hand of the ear you were hearing in. It just goes to show you how different we all are.
So by now your wondering why I wrote and told you this. My oldest son Jason was born deaf in his left ear. We had no idea. When he was in Kindergarten he “passed” the hearing test. There is NO WAY he could have passed that test. Then his next year in school his teacher noticed something and sent him to the nurse and she tested him and got nothing in his left ear. She called and told me to make an appointment with an ENT and we did and found out this news.
Both Paul and I had a lot of guilt. All the times we yelled at Jason “what’s the matter with you, are you deaf” and “can’t you hear me”! It was awful to go through. The doctor told us not to go that route and forgive ourselves because it’s very common for parents not to notice this because he could hear in the other ear perfectly.
I asked the doctor how he could have passed “tests” and he said that younger kids are often prompted with “did you hear that” and reading body language. Or they would raise their hand when someone else did. There is no way to know for sure.
So parents, I beg you, if you feel something is wrong or even if you think things are okay, what would it hurt to ask your doctor to take a look on one of your visits? The people who are checking them at school are people like you or I. Or the second woman I was with who didn’t really care what she was doing.