Saturday, June 24, 2006

They're Making Me Grow Up - Part 1

SEP = Somebody Else's Problem.

Fans of Douglas Adams will recognize this term who's definition is something akin to the act of ignoring something deliberately. 'It' is something you're aware of out of the corner of your eye, but your brain refuses to acknowledge whatever 'It' is. Although Adams' version relied on 'SEP field' technology as a cheaper and more practical alternative to 'invisibility fields', SEP is more-or-less a metaphor for plugging your ears, covering your eyes, and chanting "La La La" until 'It' goes away.

We all have SEP moments. Yesterday I had mine. And it reminded me that I have to be An Adult from time to time.

My son (Jedi Boy) is a great kid; kind in an oblivious-about-the-world sort of way, good student, great friend, kick-ass video gamer. But he's had a few issues along the way that make him....well.... him. He's a textbook ADD kid; above average IQ with notable concentration issues. For some kids ADD (and ADHD) is pretty much a recipe for getting in trouble in between daily does of Ritalin. For my kid, it's been years of concentration exercises, sometimes-fatiguing school days, constant reminders to 'focus'; but no drugs. Karate lessons have been a godsend to improve his concentration and confidence. Through all of this has been an undercurrent of parental guilt over the fact we cannot 'fix' our kid, only help him help himself.

Sometimes ADD and hearing loss get mixed up. One can look like the other. We've known for a few years that he has some amount of hearing loss, but we've never fully bought into it on the basis of (1) concentration problems introduce uncertainty into hearing assessments for young kids and (2) our kid has none of the pathological issues of hearing loss - e.g. stunted speech development. All in all, he's done 'ok' and we were loathe to slap hearing aids onto each ear.

But yesterday we had to confront the truth; our 10 year-old kid does have a hearing problem in the 'moderate' range. There's no denying it now. Normal conversation is sometimes difficult with him. The volume on TV, etc. needs to be louder for him. We suspect he misses stuff in the classroom. Were it not for his much-improved concentration skills and basic intelligence, he'd be in a much worse place. And a renewed round of testing backs it up.

So now we're looking at hearing aids for him; one for each ear. And I cannot shake the Bad Feelings. Will this help? Is this just another item on the list of Things That Make Him Different? Will they be a pain the ass day-to-day? Will he get teased? How does he feel? Are these just my issues to deal with?

The kid is okay with it all, so it seems. His view; being different just makes him special. He says this without irony and maybe he thinks it's what Mom and Dad want to hear. So we're going to give it a shot and, maybe, it'll be fine. There's a part of me that simply marvels at how the Universe just loves to screw us over once in awhile; just for sport, beyond our control, and when we least expect it.

Addendum: Hearing aid technology is impressive. Some geek-cred for sure. Who knew they came in 'fun colours' for kids?