Watching Dr. Phil today, the audience was introduced to a young lady named Key. Key is 11 years old, and already quite the accomplished gymnast, having competed in California’s Olympics, where she earned 5th Place in the All-Around. That’s a big deal. All Around, for those not up on their Gymnastics jargon, is ALL of the events: Free Exercise (the big flat mat), Balance Beam, Uneven Parallel Bars, and Vault. She must compete and perform well in all events in order to be considered. She got fifth. In the state. So she’s really into, and committed to, gymnastics. Out of the gym, she’s very active as well, and particularly enjoys surfing and bicycling.
When Key was 5 years old, she was diagnosed with Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome. She has high-frequency hearing loss in both ears and may eventually lose all hearing. There are some activities that could cause her to permanently lose ALL of her hearing. Instantly. As in, on the balance beam now: fine. Fall off a minute later: deaf. Forever.
Her mother said, during the show, that pressure situations can cause the hearing loss – swimming more than 3 feet below the surface, certainly something like SCUBA diving would do it, as would flying. Even catching a cold could cost her hearing.
Earlier this year, Key started losing more of her hearing.
Her parents are baffled as to what to do. Key loves gymnastics, and insists that she wants to continue with it, even if it could cost her hearing. Her philosophy is, if it happens, it was meant to be. Her parents don’t want to buckle her down – they understand how much she loves being active, and they believe that kids should be active. But they struggle with the alternative. Is her enjoyment of gymnastics worth the cost: her ability to hear? Do they restrict her activity, and redirect her attention and passions toward ‘safer’ activities, like the arts, music, reading? And if they do, and she loses her hearing anyway, was it worth it? It’s an agonizing decision, and one I pray I never have to make.
Now I pose the question to you. What would you do if it was your child?