Unilateral Hearing Loss

My daughter was born deaf in her right ear...but we didn't know it until she was 4.  Until this point, her hearing tests kept coming back "inconclusive" as she couldn't sit still long enough for a hearing test to be conducted properly.  Her speech was delayed and we were constantly frustrated with her as she appeared to ignore us all the time.  For example, she wouldn't stay in the yard.  She would run out into the street if we weren't watching her close enough.

When we discovered her hearing loss, we read everything there was on unilateral hearing loss.  We learned that she could not tell what direction sound was coming from.  As she got older, her audiologist told us about CROS hearing aids and cochlear implants.  We checked with our insurance company and learned they would not be covered as they deemed it wasn't a necessity.  We could never afford it during those critical years.

Instead, the school system has had to pay for an FM for her to use (only during school hours) so she can pay attention to her teachers.  The schools have also provided a Deaf/Hard of Hearing teacher for her and a speech pathologist.  (I can only imagine how expensive this is.)  Additionally, she required special one on one help in math, reading, and language.

At home, we watched her like a hawk to make sure she wasn't doing anything dangerous.  We came close a few times, but two in particular stick out.  In Kindergarten, she was being babysat by the school PTO during a mandatory parent/teacher meeting.  They took the kids out to play, and yelled for the kids to come back in when they were done.  Our daughter didn't hear them, and was left outside by herself for two hours.  She couldn't get back into the school because the doors were locked.  I panicked when I went to get her and she was no where to be found.  Someone checked outside and found her with her dried tears streaming down her face trying to sleep underneath playground equipment.  I never held on to my daughter so tight in my life.  Never again did I trust her to be left with a group that wasn't experienced with hard of hearing children.  Needless to say, she missed out on a lot of opportunities to be with friends in group settings.

When she was 6 years old, we went camping.  She asked if we could rent a peddal cart for her so she could play with the other kids.  We decided it wasn't fair that she was left out all the time, so we got one for her and took turns watching her while riding it.  As I mentioned before, kids with unilaterial hearing loss cannot tell what direction sound is coming from.  Even though we were watching her, she drove the cart right out in front of a truck.  Luckily, the truck stopped.  She didn't even know the truck was there until we ran out after her.  The truck driver yelled at her for being a "stupid kid."  (I of course had to give him a lesson on unilateral hearing loss while he lectured me for being a bad mother by letting my "deaf kid" ride a peddal cart.)

Our daughter is now 10 and finally understands her hearing loss.  To this day, however, she will not ride her bike alone for fear that she won't know where surrounding traffic is in relation to where she is.

I wonder how different things would have been for her up until now if she had proper hearing aids while growing to this point in her life.