Often I receive questions from parents of children with hearing loss wondering how they can help and support their child.
I spent many years of my life feeling embarrassed and ashamed of my hearing aids to the point of physically trying to hide them. It was only a year ago when I started thinking beyond just myself and my hearing loss. I started to think of other hard-of-hearing kids going through life feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and alone with their hearing loss. It was then that I knew I wanted to speak out about my hearing loss in hopes it might bring some peace to a child or teenager who might be struggling to accept their hearing loss. This is a list of questions from parents of children with hearing loss that I received on Instagram.
My hearing loss is pretty much staying the same and hasn’t changed. However, I do try to be mindful of how I listen to music and try to make sure it’s not too loud so I don’t damage my hearing any further.
Yes! I can hear music very well with my hearing aids. I may listen to it at a higher volume than most people, but my hearing aids really allow me to enjoy listening to music. The interesting thing is that the way I hear music may not be the way most people hear it. For me, the sound is being filtered through a device before it reaches my brain. I never pursued music until a year ago when I started learning guitar. I’m happy to report that my hearing loss does not deter my learning!
My social life was normal in school! I was extremely shy and quiet, but had friends regardless. I attribute my shyness to my personality for the most part. However, my hearing loss may play a small role. My classmates didn’t bully me, but asked a lot of questions about my hearing aids. That embarrassed me. Now I know that they were just curious kids. I wish I could have felt more confident in myself to educate them instead.
I went to a public school and was the only hearing impaired student until high school, where I met just one other hearing-impaired student. I often felt embarrassed about my hearing aids and sad that I was the only one with a hearing loss. However, I met a girl in college who had cochlear implants. She revealed to me that growing up, she did presentations about her hearing loss to the class. This was insightful because I realized that while I was silently praying no one would ask about my hearing aids, she was taking matters into her own hands. By presenting about her hearing loss to the class, she was educating her classmates and taking the reign of the narrative she wanted to have about her hearing loss. I think I would have felt more comfortable around my classmates if I’d approached it that way.
Read more: These PowerPoint presentations make it easy to explain hearing loss at school
My parents did an awesome job of allowing me to have honest conversations with them about how I felt about my hearing loss. It was easy for me to talk to them about my feelings of embarrassment around my classmates and how I didn’t like getting pulled out of class for IEP meetings. They helped me figure out how to answer my peers’ questions and helped me learn that I didn’t owe anybody any explanation about my disability. I could just answer questions simply and move on.
The only thing I wish I had done differently is made the connection between my lack of confidence and negative perspective about my hearing aids. I think if I had been able to understand that I developed some habits out of my desire to be accepted by others, then I could have sooner learned that my acceptance and confidence in myself are far more important. Maybe then I could have worked through those feelings earlier in my life, perhaps with a professional. I also understand that growing up just means learning and growing your own way, and part of raising a child means giving them the space to do that.
With the internet and social media, it is now easier than ever to be connected with or follow all kinds of people. If you can find just one person who wears hearing aids, that could make all the difference for your child. I think my life would have been so different if I’d had someone to look up to who also wore hearing aids. Better yet, someone to talk to about my hearing loss who would have understood exactly what I was going through.
“If you can find just one person who wears hearing aids, that could make all the difference for your child.”
I used to get offended when people would ask me if I knew sign language. I would be like, “I’m not deaf, I’m hard-of-hearing, how dare you!” Now I’ve grown and learned the value of knowing multiple languages and I wish I knew sign language. It is never too late to start learning though!
I’ll be honest, school was a journey for me. All of elementary school was hard for me, as I procrastinated a lot, didn’t study, and honestly, didn’t care. I didn’t do very well in school until I reached sixth grade. Then I started working harder and getting A’s in all my classes. I took honors classes and AP classes in high school and graduated in the top 20 of my class of 410 students.
Read more: What I remember about being in elementary school with hearing loss
I went on to college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I graduated with two bachelor’s degrees in environmental sciences and Italian language. At this point in my life, I’m even considering going back for a master’s degree in biotechnology. So I can say with confidence that I have never felt that my hearing loss holds me back! My hearing loss may make things harder for me sometimes, but it has taught me to work harder if I want to succeed.