As parents we've always wondered how our children are taking it - they are actually the ones with hearing loss. For me as much as I want what's best for my child, I really can't say what he's going through. I can only pray for him, guide him along, and help him to the best of my ability.
Abi Hilario is a 19 year old with hearing loss. She has bilateral cochlear implants and she's in her last years in college. She inspires parents like me because she lets me see what the future holds for my child.
Abi has graced us with some of her thoughts on questions that we might as well be asking our children someday.
How did cochlear implants benefit you while growing up?
Cochlear implants made my life easier and normal just like everybody else. It also made me more confident in myself specially in the outside world like hearing with your friends and in school. I actually started my schooling as early as two years old and I was able to catch up at the right grade and right age for me. I never went to home schooling but mainstreamed school. My mom was so strict with me. That also helped me become the person she wanted me to become today.
How did speech therapy aid you in learning to communicate better?
I am very lucky to have Teacher Joan as my speech pathologist in the early days and then Teacher Kathy as my audiologist as well, after my second implant. Because of them I talk normally. It was also because of my Mom and how she trained me at home.
What do you want to tell your 7 year old self now that you have grown into the young woman you are now?
I would tell my 7 yo self to be more cooperative with my speech sessions with my Mom everyday, so that when you grow up you won't be missing anything.
If you have one advise to a parent of a child with hearing loss, what will it be?
To a parent, believe in your child. Don't treat your child any differently because we want to be treated normally. Empower them to take care of themselves, their implants, the batteries etc. even if they are still young. And if you have difficulty accepting our hearing loss, it takes time, but I want you to know that having hearing loss and having a cochlear implant is the greatest gift I ever had.
Thank you very much, Abi! We can only hope our children will be as inspiring as you are when they are 19.