Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I don't always like to be right

There are times in life when I would prefer to be wrong. Like if I say I want to loose 20 lbs, and somebody says, "Oh no. You look great just the way you are!" It's ok to be wrong at times like that.

Today I wanted to be wrong.

Today I took Axel in for a full hearing assessment.

I suspected hearing loss when I met him last spring, and my friend and I were speculating why he wasn't talking. There were several possibilities, but the most obvious to me was hearing loss. When I met him again for the first time on December 1st, I knew right away his lack of speech was hearing related. In April he was just silent. But his foster family said he started babbling this fall, about the same time they found out I wanted to adopt him. (Coincidence? I think not! I think God told him there were changes coming.) The quality of his babble told me immediately what I needed to know.

When I told my facilitator and Axel's social workers that I suspected a significant hearing loss, they thought I was jumping the gun a bit. After all, he's speaking Serbian and I'm speaking English. Yeah, well...he wasn't speaking SERBIAN either. He had a couple single syllable, single consonant words and that's it. I tried explaining to them I knew what I was talking about. Not only have I been down this road before with my own child, but I'd worked in the field for 20+ years. I think I just sounded like a know-it-all American to them.

When Axel and I got home I found out one of Angela's hearing aids needed servicing. I called to set it up and asked about having Axel tested. Our Audiologist was nice enough to see Axel before his insurance is in place. It was a long week to wait, all the while second guessing myself. Surely I was wrong. He was hearing me whisper! Well...ok..there is that balloon that popped behind him that he didn't even bat an eyelash at.

During the testing today we watched for every indicator: an eyebrow flinch, a twitch of his shoulders, anything to indicate he was questioning if he heard something or not. So we repeated the test, just to make sure. (and we'll be doing a sedated ABR in a couple months to verify. The ABR is the definitive hearing test.) But both the audiologist and I are confident this was a reliable test. Axel is one smart cookie, and he was quick to catch on to the "game" that is the sound booth.

As he sat in the booth, not responding to sounds, my eyes threatened to spill tears again.

I refused to cry. This is NOT news to me. It is NOT a surprise. God put him in OUR house, in OUR family because HE knew we could help Axel IMMEDIATELY, and in fact I did. I started signing EVERYTHING to him...IMMEDIATELY. He is blossoming here with the ability to communicate.

Sound after sound came and went that Axel did not respond to.

Below is a graph of the "Speech Banana". You can see at what decibel and frequency sounds of speech and environmental sounds fall. (you can click on it to make it bigger.)
Axel's hearing was tested twice, and he tested the same both times. His hearing falls in the 45 db in his left ear, and 50 db in his right. All the sounds above that on the chart are the sounds he cannot hear. This would be why he doesn't speak his native Serbian either.

No, he does not have fluid in his ears, however he has no reflexes in his ear drums. This usually happens when there has been YEARS of untreated fluid, which causes the drums and the small bones behind the ear to calcify. It can also be because the three small bones are just malformed. (Angela's small bones are malformed.) This all can contribute to the hearing loss, but only a small portion of it, and there is nothing that can be done about that.

It will still be a couple of weeks before Axel's health insurance is in place. Once it is, we'll get his hearing aids ordered. (nice! I'll have two in hearing aids.) Tomorrow the school district Spec. Ed. rep will be here, and we'll be discussing his placement. But I had already decided last week that Axel will go to the full-immersion ASL program in the neighboring district (our district contracts d/HOH services with them.) Axel is fully capable of functioning in the mainstream classroom, and that school has everyone in place who is FLUENT in ASL. (an aid who knows only a couple hundred signs would be of no use to him, as he will very quickly bypass the aid's vocabulary.)

So here we are. Axel has a significant hearing loss.

I've had my cry, now it's time to move forward.


  1. Like you said he is here with you for a reason and you know you are the best Momma for him. Your professional training and your Momma training served you well in this case (well in ALL cases!). You should be proud of yourself for being right. But yes, another hurdle for Axel to overcome, which he will with flying colors I'm sure!
    {{HUGS}} Jackie

  2. He is right were God wanted him, and YOU are the perfect Momma for him!! Good for you for following your gut. Loved Angela's intro too !!

  3. Ditto to all of the above. Don't second guess it now--God knew about this all along. It will all be okay.

  4. So happy that you were able to pick up on this right away! Now he will get the help and assistance that he needs, on top of having such a wonderful Mom, and a whole new world of hearing will be opened up for him. And hearing or no hearing, you are giving him communication, and much more then just basic communication. Which is such a gift, no matter how it is expressed.

    Yes, Axel is right where is belongs, for so many reasons. It is wonderful to see him being an active part of his world:)

  5. so sad for Axel, but you are right that God picked the right family all along!