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A Parent Designs a Bonnet out of Sheer Necessity:

Her Story

Belly

My daughter, Silka, was born on a beautiful spring morning in April 2006. A few months later, through the Ear, Nose and Throat Program at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston, she was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss. Thus, for me and my husband, our journey as parents of a child with hearing loss began.

Silka's audiologists at the hospital and the hearing centre were very supportive. They prepared us as well as they could for many of the initial challenges we faced when Silka started wearing her hearing aids. However, nothing could have entirely prepared us for the frustrations of trying to encourage our active six-month-old little girl to keep her hearing aids in.

Throughout the day, while I was home with Silka and her older brother, Rein, I would find myself repeatedly pleading with her to "leave them in!" Many times I wasn't quick enough to catch her pulling them out and had to scoop them up off the floor, out of her mouth, or out of her hands as she was passing them off to our dog, Chopper. Eventually, she was only wearing them a few hours a day because I felt I couldn't watch her every moment and I was afraid they would get lost. I knew this would compromise her hearing and speech development, and that left me feeling extremely guilty. I realized that this could not go on so I started looking for a solution.

I tried a few strategies, but in the end, a bonnet I designed is what finally worked. Silka couldn't get at her hearing aids and, when she went to daycare, neither could her other curious friends (another challenge we weren't quite prepared for). The bonnet provided us the peace of mind that her hearing aids would stay put, and as she grew accustomed to them she was less interested in yanking them out.

The design was inspired by a water polo cap. The SilkaWear bonnet features a top panel of cotton stretch material and two side panels of breathable sports mesh that optimizes hearing aid reception. It fits snugly enough to ensure over-the-ear hearing aids stay put comfortably enough to keep the child happy.

The cap has worked for its namesake. Silka has really benefited from wearing her hearing aids continuously. She is now 20 months old and according to her teacher from Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf, she is right on target in her language development for her hearing age (for the time she has been using hearing aids). She will go all day without pulling her hearing aids out and will even pass them to me in the car when she wants a break or is tired and ready for bed at the end of the day. Six months ago, I thought this day would never come. She has over 30 words in her repertoire now and today as she pointed to the fruit bowl on the counter and said the word apple with such clarity, I realize that all the bonnet-wearing and perseverance has paid off.

» Information about SilkaWear bonnets is available through www.silkawear.com.

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