Dear Hands & Voices Family,
She was there when we learned of, my daughter, Ashlin’s hearing loss. She was there for Ashlin’s 2nd birthday and three days later, for her first cochlear implant surgery. She was part of Ashlin’s Early Intervention services and part of Ashlin’s language development. She was with us the day Ashlin heard the garbage truck for the first time and we all ran outside to listen and show Ashlin what she was hearing.
She was there for Ashlin’s second cochlear implant surgery, my second daughter, Mikaylin’s birth, and her two cochlear implant surgeries. Though she shook in fear when Mikaylin started to toddle towards her as a baby, she allowed Mikaylin to crawl on her, to screech in her ear (after tugging on them a bit!), and she allowed her to snuggle with her after her second CI surgery.
She was always there in the silence of the night when my husband and I were stressed, despondent, scared, and lost.
She was also there through all the celebrations of new words learned, new sounds heard. She was part of my girls learning language through experience. She was always there, until unexpectedly, last week.
Why am I writing about my beautiful dog? Because in her death, I realized that she really was there through everything we went through. She was the joy we needed to move through the sadness, to alleviate the stress, and to help direct us down the path we were on. She really was a part of our Early Intervention (and our EI provider graciously and wisely included her!)
Our latest experience with our beloved dog, Sloan, made me realize that for those of us with family dogs, cats, and other pets; these animals are a huge part of this journey we are taking with our kids. They are a huge part of our children’s experience and journey in learning language.
We all are familiar with the positive research on the health benefits of having a family pet. For us as parents, especially in the early days of stressful decision-making for our deaf/hard of hearing children, our pets give us an outlet. They can provide laughter and opportunities to breathe deeply, and they help us see all the things we have to be grateful for. As my husband says, “they are our reset button.” When the day has been long and stressful, our pets snuggle up to us; maybe lick our face, wag their tails, and provide us a way to breathe deeply and reset our emotional outlook.
We always remember to thank our Audiologists, Early Intervention provider, Speech Pathologists, friends and family. Perhaps this is a good time to turn to our family pet and thank them for their participation in making our experience richer, less stressful, and joyous. Perhaps we should thank them for providing a shoulder to cry on, a warm furry body to snuggle up to, and for providing the countless ways they make us feel good and whole.
This month’s articles:
“The Hidden Benefits of Reading Aloud Even for Older Kids””
“The IEP/IFSP Meeting Planner”:http://handsandvoicesor.org/iep-meeting-planner-what-do-before-during-and-after-your-childs-iepifsp/
“When you come upon a wall, throw your hat over it, and then go get your hat.”~ Anonymous