As a teacher, I can’t help but always analyze things. As a mother, I can’t help but worry and want only the best for my children. So when I noticed that my son wasn’t up to par with his peers, I knew I had to do something.
Culturally, it is a shame to even mention the possibility of something possibly wrong with your child. “Alhamdulillah, he is healthy,” would always be the response. It was very frustrating in that aspect, as I was not getting much support from my family in trying to figure out what exactly was the matter with my child and how I could help him. As a brand new three year old, his vocabulary only consisted of less than 100 words, a mix of both English and Arabic. Even then, it was very difficult to understand what he was saying. He wasn’t pronouncing many beginning sounds of words and was omitting many other letter-sounds. Socially, he didn’t interact with children his age much, although he went to the same school for two years now and has been with the same group of kids. He preferred to watch them play rather than join them.
After I couldn’t take another, “Oh, it’s because he’s learning two languages” or “Just give him time,” I decided to do my own research. Fortunately, I came across a county service which can test areas of concern and provide services if found eligible. I made an appointment and my husband (who agreed it was about time we understand what our little one is trying to tell us) and I nervously took him in for evaluation. Not knowing what to expect, we followed the ladies around as he was taken in from one room for a test to another. One of the first tests was a hearing screening. We understood the correlation of hearing and speaking. But we were shocked to learn that not only did he fail the hearing screening, but he had a major hearing deficit. Clearly, there was another concern on hand now that we had to address.
Long story short, my son had fluid in his ears which was believed to have built up over a couple of years, which affected his hearing and impacted his speech. Surgery and ear tubes took care of the problem and alhamdulillah his hearing has been restored. He is still delayed in his oral communication, though, but inshallah at our next appointment with the county they will begin to help him with his speech. I thank Allah for giving me the instinct that something was not right and following through before things got worse, since the longer we waited the more difficult it would have been to rectify his speech.
He now attempts to join his peers in play, and wants to know the name of everything. He is more curious and alert than ever, Alhamdulillah Of course, the teacher and mother in me is still concerned about other aspects in his development but I am trying to take it one step at a time.
Hoda is a mother of two loving boys and a stillborn girl, a blessed wife, and an elementary school teacher in Virginia.