Peyton Halwani of New Windsor, NY, started wearing a hearing aid when she was four-and-a-half years old. This past September, she started kindergarten. Every day, a classmate asked, “What’s in your ear?” Peyton’s mom Niki started to see the frustration on her daughter’s face as the questions persisted. “What is that?” “Why do you have it?” “What does it do?”
So, she decided to write a book to make Peyton feel confident, and for parents and educators to read to children.
Similar to real life, Peyton’s Magical Hearing Aid is about Peyton’s first day of kindergarten and everyone asking what’s in her ear. She gathers her friends together and tells them why she needs a hearing aid, the process of getting one, and what it does.
Peyton was born with congenital cholesteatoma. As a result of the condition, she had a slow-moving tumor in her ear. After her first surgery, the doctor reported that the tumor had grown over Peyton’s eardrum and three hearing bones. The hearing bones were removed and a new eardrum was created, causing Peyton to become deaf instantly. After six surgeries, the tumor has not grown back. The doctor then placed titanium hearing bones in her ear in hopes of getting 40-80% hearing. Unfortunately, this failed because her eardrum had been man made six times and tilted backwards. Instead of having yet another surgery, the decision was made to get a hearing aid. It stimulates her nerves so they don’t die. She wears the Phonak Sky.
Writing the story only took Niki a week. “It didn’t take me long to write because I lived through it,” she said. Because the Director of Admissions and Guidance at a private school isn’t an English major, she hired an editor to help with wording that children could understand. For example, instead of “audiologist,” she used “ear expert.” Finding an illustrator took longer. All told, the process took five months.
When the book first came out, Niki read it to Peyton’s class. “They now all understand why she wears a hearing aid and are asking her questions she wants to answer!” she said. Since then, Niki has done multiple readings at different schools, promoted the book on social media, been interviewed on radio stations, and distributed the book to local book stores.
The response to the book has been overwhelming “in such a great way!” Niki said. She has received reviews from parents of children with hearing aids who love the book. “Some of the parents even said that their kids want a hearing aid to be like Peyton! And most of them have purchased multiple copies to give to teachers.”
When asked how Peyton has responded to the book, Niki said, “Words cannot describe how happy she is. I mean, she’s the star of the book and loving it! She thinks she’s so cool with her hearing aid. I wrote it to make her feel confident.”
“She thinks she’s so cool with her hearing aid.”