Share Your Story: Summer & Harrison
Updated: Oct 6
This story is from one of our community members in the UK, who wanted to share her personal experience with our community as a hearing mother with a Deaf child.
Meet 8-year-old Harrison and his mother, Summer. Summer's passions include interior design, marketing and advocating for Harrison and the Deaf community. Harrison enjoys swimming, acting and has a great love for animals and was born profoundly Deaf. With no history of hearing loss in her family, Summer initially felt uncertain about how to best navigate Harrison's hearing loss, feeling a great sense of loss.
"At the time, I felt a great sense of loss of how his future would look and whether I would be able to navigate this journey in the best way for him. I was in total shock as we do not have any family history of deafness."
Harrison was fitted with his first pair of hearing aids at eight months old. Due to Harrison's profound hearing loss, the audiologists believed he would most benefit from a cochlear implant. Still, they wanted to monitor how he went with hearing aids for the first few months. However, the hearing aids didn't help Harrison much besides stimulating his nerves.
A huge decision.
Making the decision to go down the path of surgery and having her son fitted with a cochlear implant at such a young age wasn't easy. Ultimately, Harrison's parents decided that allowing Harrison to access both the hearing world through spoken language and the Deaf world through sign language was the best option for their son.
"It's important to remember Cochlear implants are a personal choice. They're not for everyone, but that being said, for Harrison, we wanted to provide him with all options."
Harrison received cochlear implants at 16 months old after a 6-hour bilateral cochlear implant surgery. When Harrison turned three years old, Summer enrolled him into a Deaf nursery to grow and learn alongside other Deaf kids like himself. While things seem to be going well for Harrison, Summer says there are still daily challenges when navigating the hearing world.
Dealing with assumptions.
Summer reflects one of the most annoying things hearing people do is assume that because of Harrison's device, he has the same hearing as everyone else, which isn't true. Summer finds it so hard when people fail to accommodate Harrison; they often think he's okay because he has a Cochlear Implant.
Summer says it's frustrating "When people assume he has typical hearing because he has a hearing device. When people disregard him basic accommodation because they think he has his CI's, he's good."
Keeping Harrison's wellbeing front of mind.
Because of this, Summer is mindful of Harrison's mental health and tackles these problems head-on with open and honest communication.
"I have felt his mental health is something to always check in on due to Harrison starting to question his deafness. - We are very open and make sure we have open communication so that Harrison knows we can tackle things as they arise."
However, thanks to the tremendous support from family members, audiologists, and doctors, these speed bumps haven't stopped Harrison's progress. Summer has also found the Deaf community online to be a source of immense support, which has helped her to understand and aid Harrison's hearing loss journey. She has received support from those walking the walk "in a way others may not be able."
Now eight years old, Harrison is a confident, chatty, and joyous "super-hearo" attending a mainstream primary school. He thrives thanks to the accommodations and support he receives, including quiet time, tutors, breakout sessions when needed, and his teachers also using a radio aid.
It's been an emotional journey.
When asked to comment on her son's journey, Summer responded, "This journey has been an emotional one. There have been some ups and downs along the way, but we have met so many incredible people. I really feel I have found my purpose since having Harrison and learning so much about this wonderful community."
Summer's advice to other parents who have a child with hearing loss is to "do your research -" and "reach out to others." Sharing words of encouragement, Summer says, "You are strong enough to deal with whatever this journey has in store for you… and learn sign language!"
Through this journey, Summer discovered and learned a lot about her son and the Deaf Community, from its beautiful culture and language to the welcoming members and their overwhelming support.
"We have gained a beautiful new culture and language, friends and a whole new outlook on the Deaf community. We have learnt so much through our little boy…Harrison has made us so proud, and he continues to amaze me with his strong willingness to teach others about his deafness."
In our Share Your Story series, Deaf and hard of hearing community members open up about their experiences.
If you want to learn more about NZSL, please click here: https://www.nfdhh.org.nz/learn-nzsl
Stay tuned for more interviews, which will soon be released to our blog: