We were sent to Primary Children's to see a pediatric audiologist. Miss Kat was fitted with Oticon Gaia (hot pink) hearing aids. We did more booth testing. With her hearing aids, Kat was hearing in the "normal" range. Her loss was sloping. The higher the frequency, the worse she heard. At 450 Hz, she could hear at 15 db WITHOUT her aids. But she quickly dropped to around 60db. The highest frequencies, 2000 and 4000 Hz, are where some of the most important speech information is. "Ssss" and "Shh" and "K" and "Th" are all high frequency. Miss Kat couldn't hear any of those without her aids. But with this technology, she could. She was aided to about 15 db.
This was going to work. Katrina would be able to hear us again. The audiologist told us that we should stop signing so we could focus on speech. She told me that if Miss Kat didn't learn to talk it was because I was a lazy mother. We disagreed. We knew that signing was working for Kat. She was able to tell us what she needed and understand some of what we said, so we kept signing.
Early Intervention sent a professional from the Parent Infant Program at the School for the Deaf to our home. Our first PIP adviser's name was Aimee. Aimee would come to our home and explain about hearing loss. She would teach us how to draw attention to noises so that Kat would start to learn that sounds have meaning, learn to listen. She would also come and teach us more signs.
Miss Kat had a difficult year. She was frustrated a lot, but she learned very quickly. She had 150+ signs by the time she was 2. We did a lot of explaining through pictures. We had trouble getting Kat to go to the car, so we made a chart. We took pictures of all the places we go, and then would stick them up on the chart so she would know the plan for the day. Then, if she would start to dawdle, we would show her the picture and she would get excited and get ready to go.
Christmas rolled around and we had to explain Santa. We spent hours looking for a book that showed Santa leaving presents under the tree. There were lots that showed Santa with presents, but we needed her to see that Santa had the gifts, and then he left them (and if possible, that he ate the cookies and milk that the kids left out for him!). We finally found the right book and spent weeks explaining what would happen and why. But she understood, and the look in her eyes when she woke up and her stocking was full was worth the effort.
When we found out that Miss Kat had a hearing loss, we began to attend a Deaf church and took ASL classes at our local Deaf community center. We breezed through the beginning ASL class with the help of our "Signing Time" videos. We switched over to the Deaf ward because, as she learned more signs, her nursery leaders started being nasty to her. "What does she keep doing with her hands?", they asked us one afternoon. And, "I just don't understand what she wants!" We no longer felt like she was in the right place. We went and visited the Deaf ward, knowing that we would be lost. The Deaf community was so welcoming and patient with our lousy ASL. They thanked us for learning, and embraced us and began teaching us. We knew that she was in the right place.
Kat received PIP services in our home, and speech. Her signing was getting better and better, but her speech and understanding was still poor. Over the course of the next 18 months she lost more hearing. She was moderately-severe now. And her language was growing to be only ASL. We still spoke with everything we signed, but she just wasn't understanding or responding with spoken language. We started to really focus on ASL. It was our way to communicate with our daughter. She understood language, and was learning quickly. It didn't matter that it wasn't our language. We are the parents, it is our job to meet her. She didn't have 100% access to speech, but her eyes worked great. We provided her with a language that she could access and she excelled.