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How my hearing loss affects my family dynamic


Every family is different, and mine is certainly unique. I love them to bits, but there’s always time where my hearing loss interferes and affects our family dynamic.

Sibling Rivalries

I’d like to start with the sibling rivalry between my brother and I. All brothers and sisters fight, but our rivalry is pretty weird. We hardly ever speak… it just depends when he’s in a good mood! He’s a typical teenager. He’s addicted to his Xbox and although he’s my younger brother, he’s much taller than me!

Anyway, there’s this thing called the “echo” in my family…. basically, when we’re watching TV or having a family conversation and a topic is brought up, my brother usually cracks a joke about it. Seconds later, I always repeat it without realising it was already said! Hence the term we use… “echo, echo.” It’s kind of weird in a way because I don’t hear them talking about the topic or the joke, but I always respond with something pretty similar… is this a normal sibling connection or what?! My brother is all about the sarcasm, he’s quick witted and knows his humour, which means he’s always first at getting the jokes out and once I’ve said it, it’s never funny anymore! My family only laughs because I’ve done the “echo” again!

My brother is a right pain, sometimes I feel like he uses my deafness to his advantage. He thinks it’s funny to not repeat himself when I didn’t hear the first time, and he likes to ‘ignore’ me so that I get annoyed he doesn’t listen. He definitely knows how to wind me up!

Family Gatherings

Family gatherings are often the trickiest situation for me. Everybody is usually talking on top of each other! I like to compare these situations of lip-reading a group conversation to watching a ping pong tournament with balls flying everywhere! It is difficult, but if you sit in a place where you can see everybody in good lighting and if you ask them to try and take it in turns, whilst also including you, it will be worth it. Usually, in my family they don’t like leaving me out, so when I let them know how it makes me feel they’ll try to adjust.

In my family’s defense, they are really good at including me when we have a good ol’ discussion, especially if we’re around a table.  My mum and dad always look straight at me and direct everything to me so I can lip-read. They often repeat things other family members say – sometimes in a different form with easier to understand phrases or vocabulary – so I can make sense of it. We have chats about a really interesting mix of topics and then I feel I really take an active, full and equal role in the conversation.

Grandad’s Hearing Aids

I don’t know if it’s just in my family, but if you’ve got a hearing loss and an elderly family member does too… does everybody rely on you to sort their hearing aids out!?

My Grandad for example, didn’t want hearing aids at first, so everybody had to speak louder to him. Sometimes, they ended up speaking loudly at me too, forgetting I have hearing aids! Eventually Grandad gave up with the struggle of not hearing things and got some hearing aids (which he hardly ever wears!) We now have to be careful what jokes we crack around him considering he can hear everything again!

Did you know that on average, people with hearing loss wait almost 10 years before they do something about it?! Here’s some advice on how to help a loved one address their hearing loss.

Tips and Tricks

If there’s a member of your family who doesn’t understand deafness, or wants to learn about it, try and use some of these ideas!

  • The Headphone Trick
    • Have them wear soundproof headphones during a group conversation, and try and get them to lip-read. They’ll get a glimpse about what you have to experience!
  • What does hearing loss sound like?
  • General Deaf Awareness:
    • Share that article with them to give them a better idea on how to communicate with someone who has hearing loss.
      • Can We Talk?: 7 things you can do to communicate effectively with someone who has hearing loss.


How does your hearing loss affect your family dynamic? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments or on the forum!

Author Details
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn’t prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, previously working as a Marketing Executive and now as an Events Coordinator for a deaf organization, as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.