February 23, 2009

Choosing Auditory-Verbal Therapy

While working with the team at Children’s Hospital, we also began our own research on Hadley’s hearing loss. We learned about Sue Schwartz’ book, Choices in Deafness, and immediately read that to familiarize ourselves on the different approaches. Instinctively, we knew that sign language was not going to be a part of our life. While we had attempted to incorporate a few signs into our interactions with Hadley, it always seemed forced and contrived. We wanted her to speak! Choices validated for us that there were several other options that held great potential for Hadley. One of them especially, auditory-verbal therapy, struck us as being most appropriate.

We narrowed our options to three programs in the Boston area and began the task of interviewing. Following the typical philosophy of scheduling the first interview with the program of least possible interest, we made an appointment with Lea and Jim Watson at the Auditory-Verbal Communication Center. We had mentally crossed them off our list as their office was quite a distance from us (on the North Shore! through Boston!), but wanted to meet them since people we respected at Children’s spoke of the Watsons in reverential terms. Armed with two pages of questions, a laundry list of things we wanted from a program, and the desire to get going with responding to Hadley’s hearing loss, we showed up at their office door one March morning. Within a few minutes, both Dan and I were feeling great about our decision to meet with them. Within 30 minutes, I was half listening to Lea and half dreaming of what it would be like to come here every week. 2 ½ hours later, Dan and I walked back to the car considering the possibilities. As we drove back to Boston, the drive didn’t seem as long and the earlier list of cons didn’t appear as daunting. More importantly, we were thrilled by how Hadley had responded to Lea (and this was prior to receiving her hearing aids) and how Lea interacted with all of us. I told Dan I was very pleased that our first of three interviews had gone so well, that I knew that there was at least one good option out there for Hadley. Dan described me as simply being giddy with excitement.

The following week, Hadley and I observed a preschool nursery in Boston and met with the director and other parents. I knew immediately that this was not the place for Hadley—everyone was signing and excited about their children’s signing progress, but little was said about their language development—and kept looking at the clock, wishing I could leave. While the time there was valuable, I knew that this was just not the place for our family. The day before we visited the third place on our list, Clarke School East, I called Lea and made plans for Hadley to begin AVT. While we did attend that last interview, I spent the time comparing their philosophy to AVT and measuring their therapists against the Watsons. There was simply no comparison. We knew we were making the right decision by choosing AVT.

All along, AVT seemed like an obvious choice to us. Dan and I felt that we were absolutely the right people to raise Hadley in a speaking, listening and hearing environment. We wanted a relationship with someone who would acknowledge and respect our right to educate Hadley and serve to guide us along this path.

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