By Cory MacIver and Holly F. Pedersen, Ed.D.
My daughter Kaylyn enjoys weekend “campouts” in the living room. After one such event, my wife asked our daughter, “How was the campout with Daddy?” Kaylyn replied, “Good, but my daddy sure sleeps loud!”
When your child with a hearing loss can hear you snoring even without her amplification, there is no denying it. Kaylyn Rae entered the world 16 weeks ahead of schedule weighing 1 lb 9 oz. Our home-based early intervention services began when Kaylyn was released from the NICU at 6 months old. In addition to our audiological and medical appointments, specialists from the North Dakota Vision Services, North Dakota School for the Deaf, and Minot Infant Development made regular home visits.
As a first-time father, the barrage of female providers into our home was intimidating to say the least. I found myself making excuses to be away during these visits, having my wife fill me in later. This was a frustrating time for everyone—I was not yet comfortable participating in the intervention visits and worried I was giving the impression I didn’t care enough to be involved.
Our deaf education specialist, Holly Pedersen, and I began to communicate about this situation. We both realized that, while more and more fathers want and expect to be involved in their children’s lives, information about exactly how to do that when one’s child has a disability was lacking. This led to an ongoing partnership to investigate the experiences of fathers of children with hearing loss and how to engage them in the team when providing services.
One of our first projects involved a method called Photovoice, which involves using photographs to express one’s point of view. Dr. Pedersen identified relevant quotes from the available research on fathers and I selected personal family photographs that illustrated these concepts, and together we created a PowerPoint presentation using them.
Kaylyn is now 10 years old and attends fourth grade in her neighborhood school with an excellent support team. Kaylyn loves dance class, American Girl dolls, and being a big sister to our youngest daughter, Cady (age 2). My wife Kara and I enjoy the ups and downs of life with our family—it’s a wild ride, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Cory MacIver is an educator with Minot Public Schools. He and his wife, Kara, are parents to two beautiful daughters who both happen to have disabilities. Holly F. Pedersen, Ed.D., has worked with children and youths with hearing loss in early intervention, public, and residential settings for more than 20 years. Pedersen is an assistant professor of special education at Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota.
Read more about children and hearing loss in our Winter 2015 issue.