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How my hearing loss helps my acting

Zackary Arthur
Twelve-year-old Zackary Arthur doesn’t let his hearing loss pull him away from the camera. If anything, he believes it makes him a better actor.

“It made me a better listener from the very beginning of my career,” says Zackary. “I had to work hard to listen with only one ear.”

Zackary is most known for his roles in the movie “The 5th Wave” and on the Emmy winning Amazon television series, “Transparent.”

He began acting at a young age and immediately developed a passion for it. 

“I began acting at age six, because I think it’s fun to meet new people and become different characters in a script,” Zackary says. “I like learning lines and reading scripts and stories. Also, I like reading books too. I hope to become a director and producer when I grow up.”

A recent hearing loss diagnosis

Zackary was recently diagnosed with a unilateral hearing loss that his doctors previously thought was caused by allergies. Eventually, Zackary’s family took him to get tested again and were shocked by the results. 

“[Zackary has] congenital hearing loss of the stapes bone,” his mom, Marcie, says. “Since birth, the bones in his left ear have never worked. Surgery is risky for him at this time, so he is very happy to wear his hearing aid.”

When Zackary first found out about his hearing loss, he says he felt discouraged but hopeful at the same time. He was relieved to finally have an answer to explain why he had trouble hearing out of his left ear. He also realized that his hearing loss allows him to concentrate more during scenes and filming, ultimately helping his acting career. 

“I actually have always been able to read lips even from far away,” he says. “It did make it hard to hear direction sometimes if the set had a lot of people or action. I would ask the director to talk into my right ear on set, but now with the hearing aid I don’t have to ask for that.”

“I would ask the director to talk into my right ear on set, but now with the hearing aid I don’t have to ask for that.””

Finding the right support

After the journey it took to find out about Zackary’s hearing loss, Marcie recommends other parents work hard to find the right doctor, as they were misled before finding out about Zackary’s diagnosis. She also recommends finding support from others who have gone through similar situations. 

“I think that I would really encourage [parents] to talk to other kids and parents about it,” she sayd. “Instagram is also helpful because you can see other kids living their lives and doing things. Zack and I went on IG and found  @HearingLikeMe. Zack is so happy to be part of this group and wants to support other people with hearing loss.”

She also encourages parents to not give up when searching for the right support and accommodations at school. She says she had trouble with Zackary’s teachers in elementary school as they wrote off his hearing loss thinking that it wasn’t an officially diagnosis and he just wasn’t listening. 

Read more: How mild-moderate hearing loss often is overlooked in the classroom

“Zack would get in trouble for not following directions,” Marcie says. “Some would even say things like, ‘I think you can hear but you aren’t listening.’ This is tragic and should never happen in a school setting. Thankfully, we moved into a new school district and fortunately, the teachers are much more understanding and compassionate.”

She says that now, Zackary is happy to have his new hearing technology. He also says he looks forward to connecting with other kids and teens with hearing loss. 

“I hope you aren’t discouraged about getting a hearing aid because you may not feel like it’s normal, but it totally changes your view of the world,” Zackary says. “It’s amazing how different it is to hear out of both ears. You will be surprised about how much you have been missing. I wear it a lot now because I like the way it makes me more aware of my surroundings.”

“I hope you aren’t discouraged about getting a hearing aid because you may not feel like it’s normal, but it totally changes your view of the world.”

Zackary says that he hopes to keep in touch with people on Instagram and Twitter, and support other kids with hearing loss.

“I hope I can be encouraging to kids all over the world,” he says. 

Read more: Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown joins list of celebrities opening up about hearing loss

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The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill von Bueren, Kirsten Brackett and Lisa Goldstein.
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The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill von Bueren, Kirsten Brackett and Lisa Goldstein.