Three and a half year old Alberte had a fall outside and immediately burst out: “Damn it – that hurt”!
Well, excuse me – what was THAT? We never use swear words at home. I asked her if she was okay and told her, that she should not say such things and rather use the more innocent word “drat”!
But inside, I was bursting with PRIDE!
Why on earth would I feel proud?
Well, simply because she has overheard someone else saying it. We know, that one of her most difficult challenges is to overhear what other people are talking about when it is not voiced directly to her and to hear from a distance. She has overheard someone say “damn it” and found a way to use it in coherence with her own actions.
Incidental hearing and overhearing is actually of great importance and something we as normal hearing take for granted. 90 % of a child’s language development and learning comes through overhearing and distance hearing. (Cole and Flexer, 2011)
Our daily world is full of interactions and conversations, that are not adressed directly to the child. Unknowingly and by pure coincidence, the child will overhear:
- how to initiate a conversation
- how to join in the game
- the course of play
- conflict resolution
- how to tell a joke
- how to speak to a stranger
Consequently, children will learn to develop social skills naturally. However, this does not come naturally for our girls because their distance hearing is limitated. Our children will only learn these things through practice and training.
Distance hearing is also vital in traffic situations, where we can perceive danger by hearing how close a vehicle is. It is one of my greatest concerns, when the time comes to send my girls out into the traffic on their bikes, but luckely that moment lies in the future.
For the moment, I just want to celebrate our small victory.
Everything may seem completely chaotic, when you are new parents of a hearing impaired child. It takes a lot of hard work. But the most important thing is, that we now have a different set of values in our lives. We have come to see what is most important to us, as a family. And we have come to appreciate and celebrate small victories.
My best advice for new parents with a hearing impaired child, is to meet families in the same situation. Preferably families with an older child than your own, so you can see first hand that AVT realy makes a difference in the child’s development. Our two girls and their challenges have changed our lives – and it is a much better life, than we expected!