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Serendipity in the Shuttle: AG Bell Convention Summary, Part 1

Posted Jul 19 2012 11:10am
Yes, it has been weeks since I have been home...but Summer is busy, remember?

I was so fortunate to be able to attend this year's AG Bell convention in Arizona. It is not hyperbole to say that it was a life-changing weekend of learning and networking. The timing was perfect also. I feel like I was at the perfect point in my journey with all things related to hearing loss to sit in the presentations and truly take something away that I will use in my everyday life. I have a bit of knowledge under my belt, but I can still clearly remember what it feels like to go through the journey to teach Peas how to listen and speak. I went by myself for this convention but fully intend to bring the entire family along for another in the future. (Orlando in 2014 and Denver in 2016, perhaps?)

As I got off the plane and went out to find my shuttle to the hotel (and was immediately slammed by a wall of 111* desert heat) the first person I saw was my fellow CI Mom Jennifer and her sweetie husband. We have chatted via email and Facebook and of course through blogging but this was the first time we ever met in person. You wouldn't know it, though. It felt like being with an old friend. I only wished we had more time to just hang out, but the weekend was so packed that we will just have to save that for a future visit. I can't express in words how amazing it is to BE with other Moms who have been exactly where you have and have felt exactly what you have felt. And she is also a Mom of multipes so she understands that part as well.

And this next part is going to make me seem like a freaky stalker, but here goes...

As Jen and I were talking in the van, she asked me what time I left Wisconsin that morning. All of a sudden, a woman turns around and says "Are you from Wisconsin? I went to school there." I took one look at her face and knew it was Jane Madell , who is a Badger grad just like me. I introduced myself and tried to remain calm. I have read so very many of her articles over the past five years and her presentation on Red Flags to watch for when kids are not progressing as expected is absolutely one of the reasons why Peas is now, FINALLY mapped optimally. Her work changed my child's life.

Dr. Madell and I chatted about therapy, mapping, audiological best practices, phoneme testing, FM systems...it was surreal and amazing and she was just incredible. I loved her style: honest and forthcoming and direct. It is not often that parents come into contact with professionals who are as outspoken and passionate as she is. She did not hold back in telling me her opinion on each and every topic nor did she shy away from telling me that she did not agree with some of my choices. She gave me her card and told me that she would love to hear more about our mapping experiences and more about our audiologist. Of course I already emailed her.

The best part of that conversation?

She was so interested in hearing what a PARENT, a MOM had to say. I have earned a few letters after my name, but not a one relates to anything having to do with ears. I am not a professional, I am not a clinician, I am not a doctor of anything. And yet, she truly was interested in my story and my thoughts and experiences as a Mom of a five year old child with cochlear implants who went through Auditory-Verbal Therapy. She said more than once how crucial it is when managing a child's case to LISTEN TO THE MOM. She emphasized over and over how in tune Moms are to what is going on with their child. And how many professionals brush off the Mom as someone who is worried over nothing. It was again a reminder how important it is for us parents to trust our intuition when it comes to our children. Listen to your GUT. It will never steer you wrong.
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