When people ask me, "What do you do," I usually reply that I work in early intervention. I work as a Deaf Mentor. The definition, from the Hearing and Vision Connections website is: Deaf Mentors are enrolled under Family Support, but are not credentialed. They are available to go into the home, ideally working in close coordination with a DT(Developmental Therapist)/Hearing provider, to share personal experiences, teach sign language or the family's chosen method of communication, and introduce information about having a hearing loss, the Deaf community and Deaf culture.
I have been doing this for three years, serving about 25 families from birth to age three. I am seeing a major trend: the majority of families with babies with profound hearing loss are choosing implants. In Chicago recently, a seven-month old baby received two cochlear implants . Some of the kids with implants take right off with listening and spoken language. For others, it's a slower process and the results are not as immediate. For some families, the implant does not work for their child.
I really do enjoy working with the variety of families on a weekly or monthly basis but I'm sometimes the resource of last resort. Sometimes I will receive referrals to families when the children are almost three. Some of the families are quite a distance from my home, so I'm often on the road for long periods of time. I'm self-employed, which means that I handle my own billing and take a tax write off on the number of miles I commute.
The most rewarding aspect of the job is seeing the communication and language development that happens with each child and family. I love it when a mom or dad tells me, "My child said/signed 'I love you!'"