1. Please tell us about your family.
Anna Gargarita, 33 -I am a Medical Technologist by profession but I worked as a Customer Service Trainer before I resigned to personally take care of my daughter when I learned she was deaf. Now, I am a housewife and does a little online writing when I have the time.
Jec Gargarita, 34 (He is a Medical Technologist. He had to move out of the country and work as a Medical Technologist in the Middle East so that we can support for our daughter's/family's needs)
Quianna Gargarita, 3 (Incoming Kinder student at a nearby Montessori Center, a few blocks near our home)
2. When did you realize your daughter had hearing loss?
She was tested at day 1 and the results were deferred. The tests were repeated several times but we got the same result. My baby was 3 months when, we had the ABR done because the OAE had been giving us deferred results. Then, we were informed she had profound sensorineural hearing loss on both ears.
3. How did you react to this news?
It was a shock. I do not know anything about deafness. It was a whole new experience for me, of which I think I was not ready. I was devastated because I had this thought in mind that she will not be able to talk, she'd (our only child) be silent all her life. I was crying the whole time. I did not want to go to work. I stopped existing. My husband took it differently, he was the one who took over my "being mom" at least for the 2-3 days that I was catatonic. He never showed sadness. And then, it dawned on me that I still have a baby. She may be deaf but she is alive. I should not stop to be a mom to her. I asked my husband is he is okay, and then he told me of course I am okay, I have a pretty little daughter, I would rather have a deaf daughter than an ugly one...of course, he meant that as a joke. Just to make me laugh...And then, I started checking the internet. I researched, I read blogs, medical news, all about raising deaf kids. And then I was able to get hold of a teacher running her own deaf school. I called her and explained everything, she said there is a big chance that my daughter can still talk because she already had been diagnosed early and we do not need to waste any time but start to intervene. That was the time I felt empowered and I knew there is a better sounding world that I can help my daughter to appreciate.
We met with a lot of medical people, audiologists, therapists, pediatrician, ENTs, etc...
4. What kind of early intervention did she have?
Hearing Aids at 3 months old (analogue BTE aids)
Parent Infant program at 5 months old (this is where the parents are taught how to maximize the child's residual hearing and be accustomed to sounds)
JTC online distance course from 3 months of age til 3 years old ( we have just finished the preschool online course from JTC)
More rigid therapy at about 18 months ( once a week)
Current therapy is 2 times a month
But most of all, a 24/7 interaction with people, words and sounds, games, speech (I resigned from my job to be sure I can help my daughter at home, i ask the therapists what home actvities can I do to enhance her listening skills...etc)
5. What kind of early intervention services are offered in your country?
I am not really familiar, but I can say I had a hard time looking for therapy centers in our area. They are expensive but we have to endure the costs because there are no free options. The day care centers offered by the government have no options for children with hearing loss. All kids who have special needs go together in the day care center. I don't think this is healthy because they have varied needs. I know of non government groups and organizations that are helping kids but they are very limited.
6. Had you met any other families with hearing loss before your daughter was born? Do you know any now?
We had a neighbor who had a deaf son because of Rubella during pregnancy. The boy was diagnosed when he was 5, he did not get accustomed to the aids, so they opted to sign.
Now, I know a lot of parents with deaf kids whom I meet during audiometric tests, seminars and gatherings, and also in the therapy center. I also meet a lot now that we created the decibels of hope webpage.
7. What communication method are you currently using?
We are using the Auditory Verbal Approach. In the next few months, I plan to learn sign language because I want to pursue a teaching career specializing in deaf education. I plan to teach my daughter and the whole family too because this can be a good way for us to interact with more families with deaf kids.
8. Does your daughter (and your family)have intervention/school services now?
She goes to a village play school (montessori) and therapy sessions via a private therapy center.
9. What kind of counseling did you get before she got her aid(s)?
We were taught how to take care of the aids, how to be consistent with letting her wear them every waking hour.
10. What are some tips that you know now that you wish you would have known back when?
I should not have worried. I spent a lot of time worrying before. If had known that there are a lot technology has to offer and a lot of support from family, people who care, I could have told myself that everything will be alright.
11. What is the purpose of Decibels for Hope?
We wanted parents to have a support group that is non biased. If you do not know anything about deafness or being deaf, the methods, options and choices can be a bit overwhelming. With decibels of hope, we provide support, information, inspiration without criticizing or bias towards a certain method. Be it ASL, cued speech, auditory verbal, lip reading or a combination of options, we share them, we talk about them in our links and posts. In this way, we believe the parents can have a more informed decision if they know the pros and cons of the options.
We have realized that we would not have found a good method for our daughter if nobody helped us during our journey. We wanted to be of help to any and every parent who needs support.
12. How can others connect with you?
The website has a message corner where they can get in touch, send questions, suggestions, etc. Our Facebook page www.facebook.com/decibelsofhope is also a medium to share comments, suggestions and inquiries. We are also up on Twitter and my blog comes with a contact form too for comments and questions.
13. What can we do to help your family's life better/easier?
Continue supporting groups and organizations who help deaf and hard of hearing kids. It is easier to bring up our kids in a spirit of love, unity and a hopeful tomorrow. We can only do this if we are willing to share and be a part of the solution.
14. What else would you like to share?
Like Decibels of Hope, I encourage every parent to be hopeful...The journey may be really difficult but it will always be worth all the effort. The sound of hope is very very powerful that it gives us the strength to continue moving forward despite difficulties.
Thank you very much Allison!