Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hearing Loss Profile: Liz

Today we get to meet a late-deafened adult, Elizabeth.  She lives in England and blogs at Liz's Deaf Blog.

Liz's Story

I first realised something was wrong for definite with my hearing sometime late in the Summer of 2002. It was after the 4th time of asking someone to repeat what they just said and still not getting it. Before that I felt something wrong but wasn't quite sure and got by fine. My mum noticed something was wrong before me, but she did not say anything until we were at Audiology in Autumn 2002 for tests. I have been wearing behind the ear hearing aids ever since.

The cause of my deafness is unknown, so I am a medical mystery. My right ear is more deaf than the left. I'm  mild to moderate in low frequencies and profound in high.

I wear Siemens Reflex DP now. I got them shortly after my hearing got worse, which I blame on my mastoid infection, as that's when it since deterioriated. 

My advice for parents of a young children with hearing loss is to seek advice from the right people.  Never be scared to ask questions. Get equipment that your child needs as they grow to lead as independent a life as possible. When speaking to them, always make sure you first have their attention before you start speaking. This will save confusion, and keep them from feeling left out. It can be a frustrating time for them, especially if deafness came later.

Equipment I use at the moment that helps me:

Nokia Wireless Loopset for my mobile phone, my blog tells you more about that, and also at Connevans. This helps with conversations by using the loop part of my hearing aid, although with me having some bad days now trying to listen on the phone, I may have to consider some alternative, like RNID Talk by Text Home Edition.

Shake 'n' Wake vibrating alarm clock which gets me up in the mornings without fail.

A portable flashing doorbell unit, so I never miss who is at my door.

Silent Alert, which alerts me if the fire alarm went off. This was provided by my local fire station for free, after it was organised by my Social Worker.

Thanks Liz!  Now that Julia is growing up, we've been thinking about things like alarm clocks and cell phone accommodations.  It's great to learn about what other people are using.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing and would like to be featured here at BTaC, or if you are a parent of a deaf or hard of hearing child, please send an email to bigteethclouds at gmail dot com to be interviewed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The new language experience

Three years ago, I was all about language experiences. Every moment of the day had to be filled with conversation. I was creating a language-rich environment. I was teaching my little girl to talk.

I used to read Goodnight Moon just like the speech therapist. I pointed to the fire and said, "hot." After a while Julia would say "hot" so I'd say, "hot fire."

These small accomplishments were a big deal.

When she starting putting words together on her own I would carefully count them. "Gaston shoot the bear," she liked to say. I was sure to tick off each word on my fingers. Four words! She's combining four words.

Julia was catching up to her typically hearing peers.

Now there is no more speech therapy and no need for contrived language experiences. I still remind her to "say all of her sounds" and model the late developing /th/ sound. It's easier for both of us after years of practice.

I've finally calmed down.

We drove through the Hartwood Acres Celebration of Lights last week. As our car crept through the displays, I thought about all the words we were using. A few years ago this would have been looked at as a great chance to expand her vocabulary, but I would have worried that she couldn't hear me well enough in the car. I would never have turned the radio to the accompanying Christmas music because it is too much background noise. I would have been uptight and less able to enjoy making memories with the family.

This drive made me realize that I'm in a good place. I rode around with my little girl and my husband, each of us pointing out all kinds of brightly colored shapes. I just enjoyed the ride.

Julia probably learned something, but I didn't document the instant of that growth. One mission, her speech, has been accomplished. Now there's just all the rest of growing up to think about.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fly on the wall with feelings

During my two weeks of sickness, I assembled enough energy to volunteer for a day at Julia's school. I loaded my pockets with tissues and cough drops. Soon I found myself lost in a chorus of coughing and sniffling. I didn't need to worry about standing out in the crowd.

It was Thanksgiving Eve and the kindergarten wing was filled with parent helpers. The rare full day volunteer opportunity found us making tee-pees out of tortillas and apple turkeys. Kindergarten teachers are like craft ninjas, they fashioned a turkey call out of a plastic cup, some string and a sponge.

I helped and watched my daughter navigate a school day.

She stood with her class to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and was called aside to put on her FM receivers. I cringed and felt a tinge of sadness. She went to the far side of the classroom and pulled her squealing hearing aids out. In a moment she had one receiver lined up. The kindergarten teacher helped her snap it in place. By the end of the Pledge, the FM was up and running.

After each activity, the kids went to a different room for another teacher's activity. Julia transported the FM transmitter. She clipped it to her own waistband and attached the microphone to her collar. She looked like a little mini-teacher.

Each of the kindergarten teachers knew all about the FM system. They positioned it appropriately and tested to make sure it was working. In a flurry of instructions these teachers would say, "Julia". Jules would jump or suddenly turn around. It was comical in a slightly painful way.

By the end of the day, I managed to replace my sadness with pride. Here is a little girl that fully understands the accommodations offered to give her full access to sound. She handles her hearing aids and the FM system with confidence. She takes this all as just a part of her day. She doesn't envy the other kids. She even enjoys having that little microphone. She'll sing herself a song into it when she has a chance.

She's an inspiration. Though I'm sure it won't always be so easy for her, she's got this kindergarten thing locked down. It helps that the staff at her school is pretty extraordinary too.