Story of Lam’s family

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Đào Quang Lâm is our first son. He was born deaf with 110db loss in one ear and 120db loss in the other. We found out about his deafness when he was 10-months old, and from that point until April 2014 we never stopped looking for ways to help him with this challenge. We tried traditional medicines such as point injection, acupuncture, and others from around the countrycountry. Modern medical methods included hearing aids and cochlear implants. All efforts failed to make any impact. Despite all the energy and money we had spent to help our son, we felt desperate. As time went on Lam fell behind other children his age. We were so protective of him, and as a result Lam became a very dependent child and wouldn’t do anything by himself. He did not feel the need to communicate with his surroundings since most of his needs were met before he attempted to ask. Lam’s form of communication was to point, cry or scream, furiously when he wanted something more. This was all because we could not communicate with him, or him with us.

Once Lam was 3 years old we went to see many kindergartens in Hanoi but failed to find a suitable teaching model for our son. However, we accepted the fact that Lam had to go to school and decided to enroll him in an integrated class in Xa Dan School for hearing impaired children. Lam’s class had hearing children, deaf children with hearing aids, deaf children without hearing aids, and mentally disabledchildren. After one year Lam still did not make any progress in his learning. As a result, Lam became reluctance to go to school.

In April 2014, we were fortunate to learn about the IDEO project and sign language (SL). Every week teachers came to our house to teach Lam SL and we took him to the SL centre to study with other deaf children. We ourselves attended parent SL classes. With sign language, Lam acquired knowledge very quickly and his ability to learn was on par with his hearing peers. The teachers were often impressed by his intelligence. Our family started to expand our SL vocabulary and able to communicate with each other. Our life started to experience changes, from small to great changes. Instead of pointing or taking our son to each and every place, we used SL to exchange information with him such as: eating, drinking, going to toilet, going out, studying or asking him to do some simple chores. Lam became much more independent as a result. Lam enjoys learning sign language and is no longer frightened to go to school with other children. Now Lam has a large SL vocabulary and he is able to understand his parent’s signs.

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When I gave birth to Lam’s baby sister he began to pull away from me. I knew that parents needed to prepare the first child before the second child to arrived, but I could not find a way to explain the change to him. As a result the birth led to misunderstanding and a severe emotional breakdown. That is why in my very first SL session I asked the teacher how to sign “Mommy loves you”. I signed that many times everyday and held him and kissed him. As time went by, SL became familiar to our family, it links us together. Lam’s baby sister started to sign with her tiny hands and Lam was so excited about that. When the four of us sit down together and learn SL, the house is filled with so much joy and laughter. My relationship with Lam has recovered and now Lam loves his little sister.

My husband and I made a deal that in the evenings when we are both at home we will only use SL so that my son would be surrounded by his language environment. Lam is starting 1st grade soon, we hope that his studies will be in sign language, and we are making our best effort to make that happen.