Kailyn is so proud of her brother so everyone in her class knows Aiden. A lot of the kids would come over to check him out and as 7 year olds, ask "what's that thing in his ear?" to which I replied "When he was born his ears didn't work and he can't hear, so these help fix that and help him hear, they're called hearing aids." Then there were all kinds of responses, "hmmm", "they're cute", "cool", and my favorite, "so they're kinda like band aids?" How cute are kids! One kid looked right at me and said "Someone told me he was deaf" and I just truthfully responded, "Yes he is, but one day soon, he will hear!"
After Kailyn's field day was over, I headed to my fourth grade class to join them for their field day (I teach at this same school, but am still on maternity leave). I've brought Aiden up a couple times to my class, but not since he's had his hearing aids. As my fourth graders surrounded me and admired Aiden, a few of them asked about the "things" on his ears and again I told them about his hearing. As I think about it now, I should've used this as a teachable moment on uniqueness. That was one of my biggest lessons all year long, how we are all unique and special in our own way. Oh well. They were too hyped up for field day, and really had the same reactions as the first graders ... "oh, ok, cool". Kids amaze me!
Now, to the other spectrum, parents. Most of my student's parents are aware of Aiden's hearing loss and have been very supportive and were excited to see him in his hearing aids. A lot of the parents throughout the school I don't know, but they know me from working at the school. They'd rush up with a big smile to see Aiden and I'd sorta see their smile disappear with a quiet "congrats ... cute ... how is he? is everything ok?" and they'd walk away ... no more conversation, nothing. I was okay with this ... it's not like we all know each other, BUT, I did think, we could still talk, we don't HAVE to talk about what you see, he is more than his ears.
What I've always known and have experienced myself, is that disabilities scare people, adults I believe, more than children. Kids are amazing, they look past the disability, I've seen this in my classrooms. What I learned yesterday is that I am not scared anymore. I was so proud to walk around with my son and was ready for anyone to ask about his ears. I am proud of who he is and will not hide behind his deafness, because it's his deafness that will enable me to be more than I ever was before!