First word? Dada… dadadada.

Our last trip back to the hospital to repeat the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test that diagnosed Clara with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder did not go to plan.

To carry out the test, your child needs to be asleep. That’s not easy with a 9 month old. She sleeps when she sleeps! But I did everything we could to delay her morning nap. We arrived at the hospital an hour and a half early to allow time for breakfast, playtime, and lots of stimulation so Clara would sleep. At 9am, we met our audiologist and she wired Clara up. Then, we agreed I’d take Clara for a walk to get her to drop off. 10 minutes into our stroll, she fell asleep! I have never walked so quickly back to the hospital as I did then.

She stayed asleep! Until the moment we got back into the examination booth. Then her eyes flew open. It was as if she knew.

Knowing what I do of Clara now, this was no doubt her plan. She isn’t ready for us to put a label on her yet.

So all we could do is wait and see.

Waiting is the worst. Because that means thinking time. It’s easy to drive yourself mad.

I watched Clara at almost every moment, listening and looking for any signs that indicates any change in her hearing. I became particularly focussed on her sounds. I thought she didn’t make enough, maybe she did. Then the next day, maybe she didn’t, maybe she did.

I strongly believe she can hear almost everything (if not everything). But I could understand that Auditory Neuropathy might impact her speech, after all she made some chatty sounds but she wasn’t a chatterbox. As a first time parent, or any parent really, you’re told not to compare your child as they all do things in their own time. But when you’re specifically looking out for something, you can’t help it. I know help is available, I’m sure speech therapists are great. But I just wanted to know where we stood. Would she speak? Could she?

Recently we’ve turned a corner. Clara says “Dada” – a lot. She knows who “Dada” is, she gets very excited when she sees her Daddy. And it’s clearly a word she likes to say. She doesn’t say it her intending her Daddy to respond, she just likes to say it. For the half an hour we whizzed around the supermarket, it was “Dada. dadadadada. Dada”, the entire time (“Dada” was at work). In the car, at home, it’s “Dada”. I’ve tried “Mama” but it always just returns the same cheeky grin, it’s “Dada” she wants to talk about:

It’s funny how just two syllables can change your whole outlook. Suddenly, I’m not worried – what will be will be.

Dada is easier to say than Mama, so the professionals say, so we’ll excuse her choice of word for now!

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