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Community Spotlight: James hears like never before with his bright red hearing aid

red hearing aid

The day James Rios was fit with a hearing aid was the first time his mother, Carrie Rios called out her son’s name and he turned to exactly where she was with a smile. It was the day James’ world was changed.

After three-year-old James failed his newborn hearing screening, the Rios family heard constant back and forth diagnosis about why he failed the test. He was officially diagnosed with a mild unilateral hearing loss when he was two years old.

When he first failed his newborn screening, the doctors thought it was due to fluid in his ears that would eventually clear up. The next year when James had further testing done on his right ear, the ENT found that his ear is malformed. The audiologist confirmed that James has a  mild unilateral hearing loss due to the malformation of his ear. Carrie described the relief she felt when they discovered James’ hearing loss. 

“Finding out his diagnosis was a new chapter for our family,” says Carrie. “My husband and I felt like it was a weight lifted in a way because we finally had some answers after being told it could be this or that. At one point we were told maybe it was a small tumor or calcified mass, which would mean putting him under again for surgery.”

Choosing a bright red hearing aid

Carrie says she was a bit worried about the stigmas often tied to wearing hearing aids. She remembers witnessing a hard of hearing classmate being bullied when she was growing up. Despite the stigmas that may exist, Carrie wanted to break down those stigmas by choosing a colorful hearing aid.

“In the end when we chose his hearing aid we opted for bright cherry red because we wanted to show off proudly that there’s nothing wrong with having hearing loss. Sometimes James just needs a little bit of help and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

James wears a Phonak Sky V hearing aid that has made an instant difference in his life. For the first time, James’ family can talk to him at a normal voice volume and he can hear them. Beforehand, they had to gesture or talk loudly to get his attention, but this all changed once his hearing aid was turned on and he could hear Carrie saying his name.

“It was that very moment that still makes me cry thinking about it, how everything had changed for him.”

“It was that very moment that still makes me cry thinking about it, how everything had changed for him.”

Although James is one year behind in his speech, his hearing aid is helping him catch up. His speech therapist and audiologist explained to Carrie that James is hearing sounds as if he has never heard them before. He is relearning how everyday sounds are supposed to sound and that he will catch up. 

His hearing technology continues to make a big difference and Carrie says she is looking forward to trying Roger technology when he goes to preschool. Carrie explains the importance of these technologies to her son.

“I feel as a parent that, no matter the degree of hearing loss or whoever you may be, if that technology is out there you should take a chance to improve your child’s ability to have all the opportunities available,” she says. “That’s what this technology has done for my son. I hope that this raises more awareness for hearing loss not just for single-side hearing.”

Has wearing a hearing aid made a difference for your unilateral hearing loss? Let us know in the comments. 

Author Details
The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill Blocker von Bueren and Lisa Goldstein.