Valli G. shares the story of setting the bar high for children’s hopes and dreams after their hearing loss diagnoses. After finding her daughter’s fourth-grade school journal, she tells the story of how her daughter set out to create a book to encourage kids to believe that they are special, represented and most importantly, to never give up:
“When my son was born and diagnosed with hearing loss, he was the first deaf person I had ever met. To say we were overwhelmed charting this new territory would be an understatement.
Once the shock wore off and acceptance kicked in, we were able to roll our sleeves up and get to work, providing him with all the things necessary to set him up for success. We surrounded ourselves with a team of experts and champions who all wanted the best for our child. Together, we created a plan and soon we felt less alone. Our son Battle, who was perfectly named, received hearing aids as an infant. Then, well before his second birthday, he underwent surgery for a cochlear implant. He was progressing and meeting milestones. We were encouraged and set the bar high.
When our daughter, Harper, was born 21 months later with the same condition that caused our son’s hearing loss, we were prepared. We had a road map, and although it wouldn’t be easy and without challenges, we knew what needed to be done in order to set her up for success. We were well versed by this point and knew what was possible.
Setting the bar high for our kids
Harper was born with complete gusto, and ready to take on the world. She loved to sing and was on the move as soon as her tiny little legs would support her. She took on the world with determination. Like her brother, she also wore hearing aids before she also received a cochlear implant. It didn’t slow her down one bit.
Early on, we were given priceless advice from a well-respected therapist. He told us to set the bar high for our kids. He encouraged us to measure them against all peers not just hard of hearing ones. ‘They will rise’ to wherever the bar is set for them.
When I began writing about our family’s experience in my blog, My Battle Call, I was frequently told I should write a book. I didn’t really have the burning desire to write a book at the time, but I did feel compelled to continue to build my online community which offers support and encouragement for others.
Then, my daughter came home from her last day of fourth grade and tossed her over-stuffed backpack onto the couch. I started going through all the papers and packages buried inside the torn and tattered bag.
What caught my eye was her ‘Writing Journal.’ I started reading the scribbled entries within the daily writing prompts when I came across one that stopped me in my tracks:
‘What Makes You Unique?’
What came next were pages about all the things about being deaf that made her unique. The light switched on: THIS IS THE BOOK. It wasn’t my story. Our book would be Harper’s story.
We spent that summer composing a manuscript that shared Harper’s hearing loss journey. After hundreds of revisions, we brought on illustrator, Priscila Soares, also a mother to a child with cochlear implants, to create the visuals to support the story (you can read Priscila’s Hear & Now blog here!).
Told in Harper’s voice with wit and charm, she shares how she has never seen hearing loss as something that has limited her.
Geared towards grades second through fifth, but also appropriate for younger and older readers, too, our book is designed for any child who has hearing loss and those who love and care for them. Harper encourages kids to reach for the stars and to chase their dreams. In addition to a healthy dose of inspiration, the story also includes ways others can better support someone with a hearing loss.
The book that can help others
This is the book I wish had been available when my kids were little and diagnosed with hearing loss. It is important for kids to see themselves represented in the things they watch and read. Celebrating those with differences is so important to learning to accept and embrace others. Harper’s story encourages kids who are facing anything out of the ordinary to never give up while also teaching kids to be accepting and kind.
‘We are as unique as a fingerprint. The one thing we have in common is that we want to be treated like any other kid. We want to be included and accepted.’
And I can’t think of any message more important than that. We hope our book: ‘Now Hear This—Harper Soars with her Magic Ears’ will be on every child’s nightstand who has hearing loss as well as in every school library and classroom. Representation matters. Inclusion is important. Education is key.
Harper’s book has soared to Amazon’s #1 New Release. And before schools being switched to remote learning, she was traveling to schools across our county to read to classrooms and participate in book fairs. But she didn’t let COVID-19 deter her and was the guest on several podcasts and performed read-alouds of her book via Zoom to classrooms across the country. She would say she is definitely rising above the bar we set for her while continuing to reach for the stars.
The book is available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Was your child diagnosed with hearing loss? Like Harper’s book about hearing loss teaches, never give up! Check out these resources to learn more.