sound practice in action
Posted by Jonathan Samson on July 25, 2015 12:07 AM
Dear 10 year old Jonathan,
Hi kid, it’s me, or actually your 43 year-old self from your future. I’ve just finished working with your brother Noam on some exciting new investments that we’ve been following.
You don’t realize it yet, but with unwavering support from your family, you have set the groundwork for great things to come.
It all began with your parents making the BIG decision to provide you with powerful hearing devices (those clumsy body aids) and helping you learn to listen and talk the “auditory-verbal” way. That means no sign language and no emphasis on teaching lip-reading, although ultimately, your natural ability to lip-read expertly will come in handy! Your parents’ decision had a huge impact on your life and I think you’ll be ecstatic with how you turned out. I know I am.
Right now, however, you probably don’t think life is too great. You are 10 years old, just finishing up Grade 4 at Summit Heights and I know it has been an extremely difficult year for you on a personal level. The year started off with a teacher who enjoyed being difficult, which then spilled over to the kids in your class who treated you worse than ever.
Remember that day when you decided to bring your baseball bat to school to “get back” at Matt? That did NOT go over too well with the principal, did it? Luckily, nothing bad happened and he was very understanding.
Next time you have issues with any of the kids at school who are really bothering you, please tell your teachers and your parents. I know you like to keep things to yourself, but the teachers and principal can really help you. If you ever feel the urge to bring the bat to school to “get even” again, I strongly suggest that you leave it at home. Go to the teachers and principal and have a chat with them. Believe me, it’s not the same as ratting the bullies out. The teachers and principals really CAN help smooth things out for everyone.
Please don’t worry what other people think of you, otherwise you can’t be who you are. Consider your deafness a good friendship gauge – it will show you down the road who your true friends really are.
I know there are times when it seems so hard when kids are making fun of you both in front of you and behind your back, and picking on you on the way home from school. It also feels like your “friends” treat you one way in private but in public, they act in a totally different way. This must be somewhat confusing and unfair. Please don’t worry what other people think of you, otherwise you can’t be who you are. Consider your deafness a good friendship gauge – it will show you down the road who your true friends really are. Build upon those friendships and hang on to them, especially in times of change and uncertainty.
You have just replaced your clumsy body aids with new ear-level behind-the-ear hearing aids(BTEs). Freedom at last! Believe it or not, hearing devices will change even more. In another 16 years, a cool hearing device will literally change your life. In fact, it will blow your mind what you will achieve as a result. More on this later. This is what we call the suspense part of the story!
You have an itinerant teacher of the deaf who you really dislike. You may not know it now, but she is just fresh out of school and not all that experienced. You will only have her for another year. The lesson is that nothing is permanent and try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Difficult periods do pass.
Mom and Dad work hard day in and day out to improve your listening skills and speech pronunciation. So, next time you feel annoyed about your mom correcting your speech, especially in public, it is ok to calmly share your feelings with her that you would be more comfortable if she did it privately. However, just remember what I told you in this letter…that the unwavering support from your parents and family, have truly set the groundwork for things to come. Trust me, you owe your parents and family a HUGE thank you. Everything they do has a reason to it, and usually is for your benefit and Mom always means well.
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For many years you saw Louise Crawford at The Hospital for Sick Children to learn to listen and talk. Two years ago, you “graduated” to The Learning To Listen Foundation at North York General Hospital where you now enjoy weekly auditory-verbal therapy sessions with Warren Estabrooks within spacious quarters. Remember how your lessons with Warren and your mom were in the broom closet at the Metro School for the Deaf? All of this seems pretty routine and unremarkable to you, but believe me when I say, their unwavering support paid off. Your teachers and family will be there for you in the tough and good times ahead, so cherish and appreciate those bonds.
Your life has been somewhat a blend of optimism and “Teflon,” an amazing belief that everything leads to ultimate success. “Can’t” is not in your vocabulary. For some reason, you’ve never asked “Why am I deaf?” or “Why is this happening to me?” Deafness has been a secondary issue, despite all the difficulties and obstacles. Hold onto this optimistic view that the glass is half full because this has been and will continue to be your survival tool.
In the years ahead, you will experience major changes to your life, which will open all kinds of doors. You will need to remember how important it is to adapt yourself to variabilities and to learn from these experiences. Use them as the springboard of opportunity to soar to extraordinary destinations in life.
I have two more pieces of advice, buddy. Be more social and try to overcome that fear and shyness. Put yourself out there more and trust yourself. It is worth it and really so important. Get more active and involved in sports. I know you think you suck at it, but you’ll get better and it is good for you in every aspect. You only woke up to this fact at the end of high school. University was such an enriching experience and it is too bad you didn’t do all of this earlier.
So what are these changes? End the suspense, you say?
Technology will explode like you would never believe. You will have surgery to receive a cochlear implant, which will allow you to hear far more than you ever believed possible.
Television programs and movies now have closed captioning or subtitles and you don’t have to bug your little brother and sister all the time to find out what’s going on.
The world has become a level playing field for you with the explosion of personal computing and mobile telephones. No more relying on interpreting help on the phone. Nobody talks to each other anymore on the phone anyways – they now all type/text to each other!
You’re going to look like everyone else. Yes – you read that right. Half the population is going to be walking around with something resembling a hearing aid plugged onto their ear and no one will be any wiser nor stare any differently at you.
You have an unbelievable journey ahead of you.
Small successes line the road to big wins. So look for those small triumphs and just grab them and improve and improve upon them. Good luck!
From your older and somewhat wiser self,
P.S. You know that computer that your Dad just bought you – the Apple IIe? Go buy stock in Apple NOW. And hold on to it. Trust me on this one!
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