When Little Ears Hear More Than They Ever Should

Last summer I showed my then 9 year old how to answer my mobile phone. Her twin brother was having major seizures and she wanted to help me. I tought her to answer and when possible pass the phone to me. Despite being autistic she worked it out and did exactly what I needed her to every time.

She was proud of herself and felt like she was helping.

I was proud of her too.

In the last year she has started to answer calls on the home phone too and is doing a great job of saying who is calling and passing the phone to me when needed. It’s a huge life skill and one which she has been excelling at. Up until today though I had no issues with her answering any calls.

Today I was driving with just the two of us in the car. I was on my way to collect her friend with her for a play date. Not long before we arrived at her friend’s house my mobile phone rang and Naomi readily answered it. Unfortunately it was a call she should never have heard.

Naomi’s twin brother is sick, very sick in fact. He has a brain tumour and is about to have invasive surgery followed by treatment. While I have spoken to Naomi about this in ways she understands (she describes his tumour as slime in his brain) the phone call today was one she should never have heard. Apparently the call started by asking if it was the family of Isaac. Of course my daughter answered ‘yes’. The caller then said that Isaac was to come to hospital immediately to be admitted for an undecided period of time so that he could have some urgent tests and then surgery on his brain. I don’t in any way fault the hospital as they had no way of knowing they were talking to a ten year old but the things said in that call were not ideal for little ears.

The day before I had taken both my children to another medical appointment. This time it was a community paediatrician who had never met my children before. Both of my ten year olds had to sit though a very long conversation between myself and that paediatrician while I outlined my concerns about them both. While the conversation was necessary, once again it wasn’t suitable for little ears.

So many children with additional support needs are hearing things that little ears should never hear. They are in meetings when adults discuss concerns, missed milestones, social difficulties and medical issues about them all whilst their ears can hear. I’ve been talking to my daughter so much about this as I try and help her work through her issues but as she says even sitting in a waiting room isn’t ideal: ‘Even if I was outside waiting or in class it wouldn’t matter as I would still know I am being talked about mum.’

Children hear a lot more than we realise. They overhear phone calls, hear discussions of adults while they play and they hear when medical staff mention things. They hear above TV, YouTube and other background noises. They pick up vibes, atmospheres and worries. Sometimes they even answer calls you would prefer they hadn’t.

I’m trying to help my child process the fact her twin brother is ill but now I need to help her understand and process things she has heard that she really should be protected from.

What goes into little ears changes children. Some of those words become their inner voice, other repeat loudly like an echo for years to come and others affect their self esteem for the rest of their lives.

I’m not a huge advocate of sheltering children from life completely. I don’t think that helps prepare them for the world they will live in as adults very well. However I am a huge advocate of protecting little ears from things that they are not ready to hear yet because their minds are not fully ready.

Right now I am having to work through some difficulties with my ten year old because her little ears heard more than they really should have. Sadly I am not alone.

We put parental controls on technology to prevent little ears from hearing words we don’t want them too, we have children’s TV channels designed to protect vulnerable children from the adult world yet we put our most vulnerable addition needs children in situations daily that cause their little ears to hear more than they should.

Isn’t it time we thought of a better way forward?

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Not finished yet…

“I’m not finished yet mummy” says my 4 year old daughter for the third time within an hour. This girl really does not like being interrupted and everything must be completed before moving on.

“Dinner’s ready”
“I’m not finished yet”
“Bath time”
“I’m not finished yet”
“time for mummy to wash your hair”
“But, I’m not finished yet”

And so it goes on. Even when she has time out on the naughty step and I go to her to give her a hug and encourage her to apologise we still hear “But I’m not finished yet”.
Some parents might see it as cheek, or disobedience or plain bad behaviour. I see it as something we need to work on and help her with. She is 4. She is busy doing her own thing, playing her own game or watching something on a dvd. She is making sense of the world and learning new things. She is sorting out her thoughts and singing her own songs. So we show her patience, teach her using timers that prepare her for the change of activity, and encourage obedience. And we recognise the importance of what she is doing by leaving her line of toys untouched and respecting her space. And she comes to join us for dinner or bath time or gets her coat for going out. And she enjoys it. She is learning to consider others, that sometimes we have to do things in other peoples time frames rather than ours and that there is times when playing needs to stop. Meanwhile I am learning patience, respect and gentleness in my approach. I may be her parent but she can teach me so much too.

“I’m calling to enquire about my sons education. We are still waiting on the results of your recent review regarding his school placement.”
“I’m sorry. We are not finished yet”

Ouch. If I thought my daughter was teaching me patience I really had no idea how much patience I would need in dealing with the local authority! My son has severe and complex needs. He is unable to attend mainstream schooling so we are left with no option but to go through the education system for placing such children in our local authority. It is proving to be a very long and tedious process. His report was first submitted in late November last year. The people responsible for making decisions (the forum) didn’t meet until April. The placement given wasn’t suitable. So we appealed. With just 7 weeks left before term finishes they still haven’t finished the appeal process. Should we be unhappy with the placement allocated after appeal we can either take the council to tribunal or opt for a late deferral. We also filed a placing request for the school of our choice. The council has two months to get back to us on this. Our school saga is definitely not finished yet.

We applied for a co-ordinated support plan for Isaac. This is a legal document recognising all his needs formally and outlining how these needs will be met and by who. It is updated regularly. We had our initial meeting this last week and all of the professionals attending agreed unanimously for this process to start. This should make a difference to the level of care my baby boy receives. He is finally going to be assessed for occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Wherever he attends school, wether this year or next, we can have a peace that legally his needs will have to be met at any cost.
We are still fighting for respite. Naomi has her school deferment finally in writing but we are still fighting to get her speech and language support for her selective mutism and anxiety. We are still waiting on her formal diagnosis. The fight for all that these children require to support them is not finished yet..

“God, thank you for the miracles you are doing in these children. Thank you for all you are teaching me through them. Thank you for the lives being touched by our story…”
“My precious child, I’m not finished yet…..”

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” Phil 1:6

Whatever trial you are facing, whatever difficulties you face today, remember God isn’t finished working yet. And there are so many wonderful things ahead.

Lining up the telletubbies before coming for dinner.
lining up