Probably our most diabolical enemy is Noah’s acute sense of hearing. He recently told his pediatrician, “I can hear everything. I mean EVERYTHING. Can we do something about that?” He went on to explain that he hears all the noises in his classroom, in the classroom next door, and the one next door to that one. It can really make him miserable. Ear plugs help, but the real answer is to try and desensitize him to sound as much as possible.
But this, our greatest challenge, has also brought Noah an awareness of his disability. He knows that other people cannot hear things like he can. Therefore, he has more tolerance for loud people and loud noises because he realizes that he has an extra-ability they don’t have. Often he will say, “It is just me and my hearing. I can’t get frustrated at them.”
I believe this has served to make Noah more responsible for his actions, words and thoughts than some typically functioning children. He is slow to place blame on a situation as being inherently uncomfortable or impossible for him. Instead he takes the initiative for pushing through that barrier and compensating it. If we are headed out to a restaurant that has an open kitchen or is known for its noise, he will just casually slip a pair of earplugs in his pocket.
For years, he has used earplugs at church because the music is unbearably painful for him. Recently, however, Noah has been trying to reduce his usage of the earplugs on every occasion at church. He might say to me, “Today I only used my earplugs for 2 songs!” (Meaning that for 3 songs he forced himself to tolerate the sound.)
On Easter Sunday, Noah didn’t use his earplugs at all. When I asked why he said, “Well, because it is Jesus’ big day and I didn’t want to miss any of it!”
Understanding and embracing his own differentness has encouraged Noah to set goals that motivate him to push through his barriers. This is something everyone has to learn to do at some point in their life. In a bizarre way, if he didn’t have the extra hearing abilities, we wouldn’t have that benefit. In this way, our disability has served to help us push through barriers others don’t have to push through. I think we are stronger for it.