George's half-brother TheoPublished Date: 14 Sep 2023
George has an older half-brother named Theo, who is now four years old and is hearing.
When George was first born and given hearing aids, we were unsure how to approach this topic with Theo, who at the time was approaching three years old. We thought the most age-appropriate way to explain this to him was that George’s ears don’t work, but the doctors have given him super ears to help them work. Although we knew that George didn’t get any/much access to sound from his hearing aids, we didn’t want to confuse things for Theo and wanted him to understand that his hearing aids were a positive thing.
The first time that Theo saw George with his hearing aids, he asked straight away what they were. We gave our explanation, and Theo said, “That’s really sad.” He meant it in a sympathetic way, and we were so proud of him for having such a caring reaction.
Fast forward to George having his cochlear implants, and Theo asked what they were. We gave a similar explanation but said that he had an operation at hospital and now when he wears them, he can hear.
Theo even asks about the flashing lights and what they mean, which we think is great he's taken such an interest. He tells us when George’s coils have fallen off, although he’s not confident enough to put them on George’s head himself yet.
The experience we’ve had with Theo accepting his brother’s diagnosis and cochlear implants has given us more confidence that children can be accepting, and that disabilities are not such a taboo as they used to be.
That’s not to say we won’t experience the odd thoughtless comment in the future from people, but we will take that as an opportunity to educate people.
Our priority is making sure George grows up feeling accepted and proud of who he is. My lovely friend, who’s son also has cochlear implants, told me that for every negative of being deaf, she always finds a positive – which is so true!
I have my down times when I question, why George? I think that’s perfectly healthy to feel your emotions in the moment, but I also quickly remember some of the great things that I’ve realised since George’s diagnosis:
- We make a more conscious effort not to have the TV on or scroll on our phones around him, meaning we are 100% in the moment with him and fully enjoying him.
- I can hoover at 9pm at night and not be worried that I will wake the baby… unless Theo is at our house, then the hoover is strictly for use in daylight hours only!
- When George is feeling tired, he takes his cochlear implants off and throws them away. Imagine being able to just completely switch your hearing off when you’ve had enough of listening?!
- Every new sound that George makes means so much more to us knowing the journey he has been on to get to that point.
- George loves sounds and is always experimenting, albeit by throwing things onto different surfaces to see what sound it makes. It’s amazing to see him explore sound in this way.
- We started learning British Sign Language (BSL) which is an amazing, fun language, and something we would never have thought about learning before George.
It's really not all as doom and gloom as we first imagined.