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