I had a plan! I would get married have 2 children in quick succession, take a break from work and get them into fulltime school and go back to my well-paying job as a merchandiser! I had studied Clothing & Textiles and been working in the garment industry for 7 years. My son was born when my daughter was almost two and a half years old, just as we had dreamed and planned. It was all just perfect!
However, my journey took a different road. When my son was a month old, we discovered that he had a bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss. This changed our path completely. He was soon fitted with hearing aids which helped him to hear some sounds and with extensive auditory verbal therapy and a lot of family support he learnt to talk, though not very clearly, as his brain did not have the clear access to sound to profound degree of this hearing loss. He joined regular school and managed to cope, however as the language of his peers galloped ahead, it was difficult for him to keep up. With advancement of technology came the cochlear implant, which is a surgically implanted device in the inner with the processor fitted externally. This, was a game changer and helped him to listen to all the speech sounds across the speech spectrum clearly, enabling his brain to receive a robust auditory signal, helping him to listen with clarity, leading to clearer speech and advancement in language learning and helping him reach his full potential! Today Jehan is a confident and successful young man, a psychologist and certified fitness trainer.
When my son was six, I decided to follow my passion and become an Auditory Verbal Therapist. I went back to studying, I did my B.Ed. (Hearing Impairment), followed by the Auditory Verbal Therapy Certification, and then went on to doing my Listening and Spoken Language Specialist, Cert. AVT (LSLS Cert. AVT) from the Alexander Graham Bell Academy, for Listening and Spoken Language Certification, USA. I am one among the first five in India to have achieved this certification.
Throughout my journey it was evident that there is a huge gap between the demand and supply of top-class Auditory Verbal Therapy. So, I set up INTEGR△TED, Services for Listening & Spoken Language; a therapy centre working with children and adult with hearing loss who use hearing technology cochlear implants and hearing aids. I work with organizations and centers to provide consultancy on various aspects of Listening and Spoken Language and Auditory Verbal Therapy. I am the Co-founder and Managing Trustee of VConnect Foundation, a parent support group pan India for children with hearing loss.
Many things came naturally to me and now when I reflect back, they were probably the skills and values that I learnt in my childhood and from Udgam in my growing years. Having the courage of your conviction, being truthful to yourself and others, going that extra mile for someone else and having the freedom to thought, to be able to dream are just a few.
Dream your dreams and follow your heart! Do what makes you feel happy and yet gives you a sense of achievement and success. Look for opportunities to shine outside the conventional, go out and explore, intern/volunteer at different organisations with an open mind, a sense of curiosity and explore different avenues that you can have access to.
Best wishes to each of you students and the Udgam families, live your dream and thrive!