Natalie knows what it’s like to grow up on a family with hearing loss. Her mom, Cindy, has profound hearing loss and her older sister, Bonnie, has “cookie bite” hearing loss like she does.
“I can hear the highs and the low pitches really well, but anything in the middle is really hard to hear,” she says.
To address her mild hearing loss, Natalie wears Phonak Marvel hearing aids, which help her hear in situations with loud background noise, such as cafés, and gives her the freedom to manage her hearing loss with a variety of modern features, including Bluetooth music and phone call streaming and a built-in, rechargeable battery.
“With my Phonak Marvel hearing aids I hear music way better,” she says. “I’m able to hear the tones and different beats in songs. Like, before I would never hear, like in Bohemian Rhapsody, the two voices, but now with my near hearing aids I can kinda hear the different tones going through it.”
“When a teacher told Natalie that her dream of a career in medicine was a no-go because of her hearing loss, instead of giving in to defeatism, she has committed herself to proving otherwise,” her mom says.
Natalie now strives to get good grades, volunteers, and tries to be a role model for her family and other teens with hearing loss.
Read more: Meet Teen Advisor Natalie
“Growing up in a family of hearing loss, it was really comforting to know that you weren’t the only one, but it was hard to relate to other family members because we all grew up in different time periods and around different society’s view of people with hearing loss,” she says.
Her mom agrees and says that when she was a young girl with a transistor-style hearing aid, she felt self-conscious about her hearing loss.
“Unfortunately it instilled a deeply negative self-consciousness that bled over into how I raised my first daughter, Bonnie,” she says. “On the upside, she has motivated and challenged both her sister Natalie and I to push the negativity aside and think outside the stigma-box.”
“If I were to talk to 6-year-old Natalie I would tell her, chill out, you know, things will work out,” Natalie says. “You just have to keep on advocating for yourself. As long as you do that things will go pretty smoothly.”
Some advice she would give other teens with hearing loss?
“Take your past experiences, whether good or bad, and embrace it and make the most out of it, because they do turn you into the person you are today and they are always something to learn from” she says. “And make sure you advocate for yourself in all situations because it will be worth it in the end.”
Watch more videos about what it’s like to be a teenager with hearing loss on the Hearing Like Me YouTube channel.