Like any other parent, the diagnosis of our son’s hearing loss was devastating. We went helter-skelter to any and every related professional for help. Undoubtedly they showed us ways and means of treatment and rehabilitation but the belief and hope was lacking.
By God’s Grace, just 18 months ago, my son, Muzammil was getting his bilateral cochlear implants, I got to know about Listening Together. I can never forget the day Uma and Ahladhini replied to my queries. I am thankful to the Almighty for keeping me under the guidance of the right people at the right time.
Soon after activation we enrolled in the SUNO program, which became a beaming ray of hope. We were empowered with knowledge, imbued with optimism and the strength to fight off the odds we were facing. The best part of this tele-intervention program was that Listening and Spoken Language techniques were not taught as something you do for an hour every day, but presented as a way of life so Muzammil could be raised in a language rich environment and taught spoken language in a very natural way. With ongoing support, we have recognized our son’s needs, and the goals to be set for him in a holistic way covering all the aspects of early childhood development – Audition, Cognition, Language, Speech and Communication.
It has been just over a year since Muzammil’s activation. We continue to receive weekly tele-intervention through SUNO. Now we are well versed with the AVT dictionary Auditory Sandwich, Acoustic Highlighting, Repeating and Recasting, Scaffolding, Wait and Pause, and the list goes on. Our journey has been not only about implementation of strategies but introspection too. We have been empowered and educated to document our son’s spontaneous language to keep a track of his progress and to understand how we can support him more. It was only because of the SUNO program that we started keeping audio and video records of our daily conversations, which proved to be of utmost help when reflecting on the strategies we were using and correcting or reinforcing them as per the requirement. This is now our way of life not just a therapy goal!
Last but not least, it has helped that Ahladhini has interacted with us not like therapist who is just doing her job, but a friend who cares about Muzammil and our family. The Listening Together team understands Indian culture, family values and bonds, social and emotional intricacies involved with having a child with hearing loss, which made things easier for us as parents. As I continue to work with Muzammil, seeing the difficulties that we and other families face, I am inspired to pursue further education in this field, so I can share what I know and support other families on their journey.
When we started this journey I was tormented by thinking about Muzammil’s healthy, secure, successful future and his standing in this chaotic world echoing with debilitating criticism. I felt incapable of setting any expectations but now under the utmost blessings of The Almighty and impeccable guidance from the SUNO program, I have built up my expectations for him like any other mother. Now, I see his future as an eloquent speaker, confident in expression of his dreams and desires, his wishes and vision on any and every platform of this cosmos, overcoming any obstacles in his way… Undoubtedly we have embarked on a journey filled with ups and downs but having partners to guide has made it more manageable. It really takes a village to raise a child and I am glad I have found mine.
– Written by Nayela Ahmad, mother of Muzammil