From John and Ros (Dave Brady’s parents)
David is our first child and when we discovered his deafness, at 12 months old, we certainly had a lot to learn. He was always an enthusiastic and inquisitive child and willing to try new activities.
As a baby he must have encountered great difficulties in learning what speech was used for but he has always been very observant and interested in his surroundings and in other people. He watched for their reactions and made efforts to be involved.
He has always seemed to love noisy things. Before we found out about his deafness his favourite toy was the kitchen saucepans which would be taken out of the cupboard and crashed around loudly while he ‘chortled’.
David made numerous sounds, some quite bizarre, and we joined in and encouraged any sounds he would make. He was interested in words and would watch and try to copy. Other children at preschool would sometimes pull at his hearing aids but he usually reacted calmly. However some teasing in High school lead to David being angry and upset which was very upsetting for us.
It is a struggle trying to assist other people to realise what a hearing loss means for the deaf person. People would say to us that David would be fine and ‘normal’ when he was wearing his hearing aids. It seems difficult for them to realise that there is still distortion and not necessarily the level or type of sounds that we hear. Another annoying comment from our perspective is when it is expected by others that David will be fine because he will lip read! Very few people seem to understand what that would really entail.
At school age and with some language he would make conversation, particularly with family members and would ‘chat on’ quite often on a tangent, (but the fact that he was trying out language was the important thing). Frustrations with not being understood lead to some tantrums even as a teenager when he would hit out at a wall or stamp away. There were some heartbreaking times when his peers did not understand his difficulties and he would be left out, or on the night of the year 12 formal he arrived home early having found the social situation too hard to work with. Particularly upsetting was the range of sound from the disco and microphone plus so many of his classmates excitedly chatting and dancing. He felt ‘left out’ and this was very hurtful to us as well.
The understanding from peers developed when he went to University of NSW, living in college. David was very involved in sports and college life. He found fellow students much more accepting of him, so much so that he was voted to be collegian of the year by his peers. Of course this made us feel extremely proud and happy for him.
David’s love of sport opened up team activities where he was accepted because of his abilities although there were still ‘difficult’ moments where misunderstandings occurred. As parents it was often hard to keep out of it but we let him fight his own battles.
David did not want to learn to sign. We started classes but he asked to stop, perhaps as he could not practice with anyone his age at school, or more probably as he did not want to be ‘different’. Later when he began playing with a deaf cricket team in Brisbane and realised the communication needs he decided to learn to sign at TAFE so that he could communicate with all his deaf friends. This has been very positive and was particularly useful when David joined the Deaflympics in water polo. It was a wonderful experience to be involved with the deaf community integrated with their speaking deaf teammates and working together for the Aussie sports teams. The experience of attending the Deaflympics was amazing for us seeing how far he had come and how interesting it was to see how he could communicate with athletes from other countries.
We were very proud when he took on the massive challenge of Chairing Deafness Forum of Australia in 2011 after only being on that board for a three months as a director. It was an amazing experience to watch him lead a Deafness Sector summit in 2013, when we attended, and seeing our son speak in front of over 100 people. When David left his hard worked career in sports management , having reached a very high executive level within a mainstream sport, we were pleased that he took up the challenge of working as CEO for Hear For You. David had reached his goal of achieving in the hearing world as a top sports executive and we are again very proud that he has undertaken a tough challenge managing a charity like Hear For You. If anything, underneath that smile, this shows the high level of determination to succeed for the benefit of many others so that they too can be inspired to reach their goals.
We are well aware of the loneliness and misunderstandings that hearing impairment can cause. It is upsetting to see continued lack of understanding of the difficulties for hearing impairment especially when hearing people brush it aside as something that is “fixed” by modern technology. However, with the growth of technology such as texting, email and more, it would seem that communication is becoming easier to handle and should give our deaf and hearing impaired people better opportunities for full involvement in the world today.