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Impaired but Empowered Blog

For some people, miracles are impossible, they are simply stories that are told for inspiration. For Ruchi Goyal, miracles are very possible, and she has continued to write about her miracle for the last 12 years.

Her daughter Prisha, whose name means "beloved God's gift," was just that for the family when she was born happy and healthy with curly hair and dimples.

However, during a visit from a sister-in-law a few months later, concerns began arising that the baby was deaf. As mother and daughter napped one afternoon, the sister-in-law rang a bell to waken them. Prisha slept right through the sound.

The following months were spent visiting several audiologists, all of which concluded the same diagnosis – Prisha was born with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.

"My world came crashing down with the knowledge that all those songs and chatter had been falling on deaf ears," Ruchi said. "I knew I wanted her to talk, sing and dance just like every little girl should.”

Yet the audiologist wasn’t sure Prisha would ever be able to say her name. After being prescribed with a set of hearing aids and speech therapy classes, any other information or assistance was unavailable.

At the time, the family was living in India, where knowledge on the subject was limited. The speech therapy was very expensive and did little to help Prisha improve. The family was desperately seeking another solution.

That solution came a few months later, when Ruchi and her husband met a deaf teen and her mom in a clinic. When the group started talking, the other mother gave them a phone number of a professional auditory verbal therapy teacher in Pune, India.

Mrs. Alaka Hudlikar was trained in Mumbai and taught deaf and hard of hearing children of varying ages to speak. Using the environment of her home, she focused on training the children’s brains to listen to softer sounds. No lip-reading or sign was used.

She accepted Ruchi and 1-year-old Prisha as her students, giving them lessons twice a week in English at a reasonable price. The lessons were very demanding of both parent and child, and if either lost focus, she expected nothing but the best as time was going by quickly. Early years are important. The lessons also taught the parents how to continue teaching their child throughout day-to-day activities with an emphasis on listening and comprehension, so Ruchi’s life soon centered around helping her daughter hear and speak.

"Our life changed, its narrative had changed, and our world centered around only her needs," Ruchi said. "If we went to some occasion or met someone, I was still teaching Prisha. Talking to friends became a rarity."

It didn’t take long for the results to become evident. Soon, Prisha was blabbering like any other toddler as well as picking up all the sounds around her. Within a year, she was able to carry out instructions without looking at her mother’s face. As the lessons progressed, so did Prisha’s speech.

Today, at 14 years old, Prisha is completely auditory with the help of hearing aids, and her entire story is documented online through Ruchi’s blog "Impaired but Empowered.

After learning of her daughter’s hearing loss, and struggling to find an effective audiologist and teacher, Ruchi felt motivated to share their story to help other mothers and children. After keeping journals for the last several years, she instead began writing online.

Since then, she has continuously blogged, posted on the blog’s Facebook page, spoken in schools and seminars to increase knowledge on the subject of deafness and hearing loss, became a substitute teacher, and began teaching art classes, a passion that helped her and Prisha through their struggles.

Prisha also began writing on the blog, as well as using it as a platform to showcase her artwork and photography.

Their story has been told hundreds of times, even being featured in the national magazine Femina in 2008, where the pair was highlighted as women achievers who are constantly overcoming a struggle that never ends.

"There has not been a dearth of challenges. The last 14 years have had many tears, frustrations, disappointments and roadblocks," Ruchi said. “Yet we hang on, as life is like that. It's an everyday climb and many steps forwards and few backwards.”

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