As I reflect on what it was that made this season so special, I realize it was not the presents, but the special moments I experienced. I will never forget the excitement I felt as I hunted for elf tracks in the snow while holding my dad’s hand. Or the connectedness I felt when my family piled into our red minivan on Christmas Eve just to drive around to marvel at the beautiful lights. I loved eating lots of frosted covered gingerbread cookies, but I especially loved making them with my siblings next to me as Christmas music played in the background. It was the experiences that created such a magical holiday for me.
Now that I have my own family, I desire my children to experience the same joy I had growing up. I want them to learn that the best things in life can not be wrapped up with pretty paper and a bow. In fact, research suggests that when parents gift children with meaningful experiences by providing attention and love, it is the best gift we can give them. Oxford University studied 3,000 children ages 3-5 years old. They found that it was not toys that bought happiness and intelligence, but experiences. More specifically, the study found that “children’s academic success was more dependent on their home environment and parent’s involvement than the toys or electronic devices they are given.”
If providing meaningful, connecting, and loving experiences for children during the holiday season is so valuable to their lives, I want to make sure this happens for my children with hearing loss. I know that the holidays bring added challenges that make the season extra hard to hear.
Holiday parties are a blast, but the background noise can be overwhelming. Plays and musicals are amazing to attend, but hearing what the actors say from so far away is difficult. Cold weather means winter hats that cover ears – and hearing aids. Snow is so much fun, but extra vigilance is needed so we don’t lose or damage hearing aids. Traveling is great, but the noise from the car can be extremely loud, making it hard to hold a conversation. While I know my kids love being part of all the festivities, I am aware they can get worn out as they work harder to hear.
I never want my children to miss out on anything because of their hearing loss. Providing them with rich experiences that they will always remember is so important to me. In order to do that, I have to be aware of all the little ways that this season can impact their hearing and help accommodate those challenges. We do this in many ways. For example, we make sure we stay close when speaking to each other. I try to find ways to allow them to see my face when I talk to them. Additionally, we try to eliminate background noise when possible, use basic sign language, and give listening breaks when needed. Lastly, we make sure to take the Roger Touchscreen Microphone everywhere we go.
What makes Roger so incredible is that it helps to break through background noise and distance – two of the biggest barriers for people wearing hearing aids. Background noise and distance happen often during the holiday season. The Roger measures the background noise and adjusts itself to transfer sound a little louder. When someone is wearing the Roger microphone, my children can hear them through receivers on their hearing aids over the background noise and up to 50 feet away. My favorite feature is the group option that the Roger system offers. This is a feature that allows the device to be placed down, like in the middle of a table. It automatically will switch onto group mode. Roger will then know that it needs to not just pick up one voice, but all the surrounding voices, and transfer to the hearing aids.
There are many challenging environments during the holidays for my children with hearing loss. For our family, the hardest environments tend to be family gatherings, traveling in the car, and outdoor events. It is in these environments that I need help providing the accommodations my children need to ensure that they are hearing clearly, connecting with others, and enjoying every moment of the experience.
Family gatherings are challenging because there is so much going on. Often, music is playing in the background, lots of people are talking, and there are a whole lot of unfamiliar faces. Having the Roger mic makes a world of difference in these settings. We use Roger in a couple of different ways. First, we love the group mode. I place the Roger Touchscreen in the middle of the table where my children with hearing loss are seated. I make sure it is on the group setting. Magically, my children are hearing more clearly the voices surrounding them. Another way we use Roger during family events is by having family members use microphones. This can be done through the pointer feature on the Roger, or by putting it around their neck. This allows for the speaker’s voice to be amplified over the background noise. Using Roger in this way allows my children with hearing loss to feel connected to their loved ones.
During the holidays we are in the car a ton! Our family lives all over the country, so every year we travel to see each other. That typically means multiple hours in the car. Not surprisingly, the car is a difficult place to hear. The background noise is super loud, and we are not facing each other to see facial cues and read lips. That is why using the Roger Touchscreen mic in the car while we travel is a necessity for our family. The Roger allows my children with hearing loss to listen to all those amazing Christmas songs and participate in the conversation that is happening.
“The Roger allows my children with hearing loss to listen to all those amazing Christmas songs and participate in the conversation that is happening.”
Another reason the holidays can be difficult is all the outdoor activities. This often means dealing with cold and distance. Activities like sledding, light shows, and caroling are so much fun but can be difficult to hear. One activity we love to attend is a light show. There is a beautiful park in the town next to us. They decorate every tree and bush with amazing colorful lights. Then at 7:00, they count down and turn them all on at once. It’s beautiful. Santa, hot chocolate, cookies, and a fun train ride to the North Pole make this event even better.
However, it is a very challenging place to hear. Not only are my children often wearing hats that cover their hearing aids, but they are also surrounded by a ton of people. My children are not always right by my side. They are running up and down and looking at the different light exhibits. I want them to take it all in, enjoy the moment, and most importantly, to feel connected to us and the community around them. In these settings, we make sure to have the Roger Touchscreen around our necks. We are able to communicate directions, but more importantly, share all the magical elements of the evenings. Roger makes it a little easier for my children to hear so that they can embrace the magic of the experience.
Providing my children who have hearing loss with joyful experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives is a priority to me. I know they will not always remember what gifts they were given under the Christmas tree, but they will remember how they felt. The Roger Touchscreen mic helps to make tricky holiday settings more accessible. Because of Roger, my children do not have to work as hard to hear. On top of that, they feel more connected. This allows us to create all those special holiday experiences. The Roger Touchscreen truly is magical for our family.