The day we found out my son Cooper was profoundly deaf, one of the first things I did was search social media to connect with parents of deaf or hard of hearing children. For me, gaining knowledge and forming connections makes the unknown seem more manageable.
Around the time I connected with parents of deaf children, I also came across the following quote. It really reiterated why it’s so important to connect with people on similar paths.
“One stranger who understands your experience exactly will do for you what hundreds of close friends and family who don’t understand cannot. It is the necessary palliative for the pain of stretching into change. It is the cool glass of water in hell.” — Laura McKowen
Don’t get me wrong, we had and continue to have a great support group in our friends and family. But there’s something about connecting with people on the same journey as you that makes you feel seen and understood. In the few months since Cooper’s diagnosis, we’ve been lucky enough to connect with many parents of deaf and hard of hearing kiddos. Some are in the early stages like us, and others are further along in the journey.
Here’s what we’ve learned about why those connections are so vital.
There are many emotions involved in a hearing loss diagnosis, especially in the beginning weeks. Having someone to lean on who has been through the same emotions is so validating. To be able to spew what you are feeling, even the irrational parts, and be met with only kindness and understanding is nothing short of incredible. There have been many times in this journey that I have admitted I was feeling something I knew was ridiculous, only to have another parent say they’ve thought or felt the same and that it’s normal.
The initial diagnosis may be the hardest part of a hearing loss journey. That doesn’t mean it’s the only difficult part. There are other emotional times along the way. It’s helpful to have someone who has been there before. Whether you are looking for advice on how to handle something related to speech therapy, mainstream classrooms, or technology, these parents have likely been through the same and can offer support. Or, if you’re simply looking for someone to say, “Me, too,” they can offer that as well. Sometimes there is unexplainable comfort that can be taken in simply knowing you are not alone in a circumstance, that someone else has gone before you and come out the other side.