Ann Arbor, Michigan (CNN) When I was 4 years old, my mother and father received devastating news -- I was deaf.
It was the 1950s, a time when people with disabilities received few accommodations or support. A time long before any legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act was conceived, let alone passed.
I am the first and, to date, only person in my family with a profound hearing loss. While I will never know what caused my hearing loss, my mother didn't have a normal pregnancy.
I was born five weeks past my expected due date. I was "floppy" and very sickly from the beginning. Today, my mother would have been induced much earlier and I would have been placed in a neonatal intensive care unit. My parents, both physicians, watched me 24/7 for two weeks, shaking me every time I stopped breathing until I started again. Gradually, I became healthy and thrived like any other child.