Hela is turning four in September. She’s developing really well, being happy and joyful kid. Those four years let us cope with her disability, this matter is very well known to us now. We usually forget that Hela is deaf, because she practically lives as a naturally hearing child. She attends standard kindergarten, talks a lot, and is very chatty, open and cheerful girl. Loves dancing and singing.
From time to time I think about Hela’s hearing loss, some situations remind me about that, a good example is a visit to a swimming pool. Cochlear implants have the external part (speech processor) which needs to be removed before entering the water (pool, sea, bath, shower etc.). After the removal disabled people cease to hear. Hela has a Med-El processor which – in theory – comes with dedicated waterproof bags that can be placed on processors, but I don’t fully trust them. I still wait for Med-El to introduce entirely waterproof processors and I believe it might happen very soon.
When we are at the pool we take Hela’s processors off, but then we can see that contact with her is only partial, she speaks without help but doesn’t hear when someone speaks to her. Such moments remind me that our child is deaf. Hela is a very open child and despite of lack of hearing at the pool she still wants to have good contact with her environment and peers. She willingly talks to other people, starts conversations and then struggles to understand what do they say to her. I’ve recently discovered that I have the biggest issue with that and get worried by such situations, but Hela on the other hand is very happy at the pool and grins from ear to ear. I can see a problem with such situations, so I try to avoid swimming pools.
I keep thinking about my child’s mandatory pool in her 2nd grade classes, it scares me. I wonder if it could be better to excuse her from those, though I don’t want to isolate her from her classmates. All kids would have swimming lessons and she wouldn’t? I’m still scared about that, but I still have time to “grow up to” a good and sensible decision in the matter.
Recently my daughters were invited for a pool birthday party, they both really wanted to go. I had my doubts about Helenka, but I overcame them and we went. The decision about going turned out to be very good, in spite of my fears everything was great! The party was to celebrate the birthday of eight-year old girl, everything took place at the deep no-bottom pool and lasted for three hours. Kids were constantly accompanied by the animator, who presented several games and activities. For the first 20 minutes Hela was standing aside outside the group of older, hearing kids. First she started to play in the jacuzzi with other girl her age, they were throwing the ball and smiled at each other. Hela finally got courageous, joined older children and fully participated in every activity. She’s learned to jump into a deep water that day. The instructor didn’t know our child can’t hear, tried to communicate with her so I told her that Helenka is deaf and needs some things to be shown to her. At first it was obvious that the animator was slightly abashed, but after a short time she managed to perfectly “speak” with Hela. Our daughter unscrupulously bothered the instructor, asked her about many things; if she can jump, if she can wear swim goggles, if she jumps nicely etc.
It was a very good day. Our fears and worries may harm our children, so we have to overcome our weaknesses – that will certainly have a positive impact on the kids! Here’s Hela at the pool: