Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Q & A with the Mom of the Blue Ear

A motivated mother can do anything when the health and well being of her child are at stake. The hearing loss community has been abuzz for months over the impressive accomplishment of one New Hampshire mom. When her son, Anthony, didn’t want to wear his blue hearing aid to school “because superheroes don’t wear blue ears”, she made one that did. Her email explaining Anthony's concerns to Marvel Comics inspired the creation of a new comic book character, The Blue Ear.

The Blue Ear poses with Hawk Eye, a superhero who uses hearing aids (left). The Blue Ear using his listening device that can "hear an ant hiccup across the United States." (right)

Anthony, now 5 years old, is the Blue Ear. His journey to super hero fame is well documented. He has a Facebook page. He has met Iron Man. So I was surprised to have the chance to talk to Anthony's mom about parenting struggles and the Blue Ear's future top secret missions.

Q&A with the Blue Ear's Mom

Many parents struggle to get their kids to wear hearing aids. Was Anthony giving you a hard time for a while or did this come out of the blue?

Anthony had been wearing a BAHA softband (bone-anchored hearing aid) on one side. It was uncomfortable for him. He got a Phonak hearing aid in bright blue about four months before this announcement about superheroes. The Phonak aid was comfortable and he was noticing a benefit from it. He wore it willingly for those four months and then decided he was done being different.

At the time, Anthony was going to school with other kids that have hearing loss. It was a big help to see other kids wearing amplification, but we were surprised for him to notice his hearing aid is different at such a young age.

How is Anthony doing now?

Anthony loves being the Blue Ear. He got to meet Iron Man. The whole thing is pretty awesome.

For school, Anthony is wearing the BAHA and the Phonak hearing aid. We find he gets the best benefit with both and that's what he needs in the educational environment. For sports and other activities, he can get by with the Phonak hearing aid. He's now using FM which is giving him an added benefit.

Anthony is noticing the benefit of these devices and that they help. We're very fortunate. I'm sure there will be more challenges as he gets older, but for now things are going well.

What can we expect from the Blue Ear (the comic book one) in the future?

Marvel has partnered with Phonak to create posters featuring the Blue Ear that will help kids feel good about wearing their hearing aids. The goal was to have these posters in every pediatric audiologist's office, but we want to take it even further. We'd like to see these posters on the bedroom wall of every superhero fan.

Marvel comic book characters have always been inspirational for Anthony. Iron Man developed his suit to save his life after a chest injury causes heart problems. Hawk Eye lost his hearing and had to wear hearing aids. These guys have challenges, but they are superheroes first. Our kids are always kids first, no matter what their challenges.

Thanks to Anthony and his mom for sharing this story with and for creating this character to inspire and support all kids with hearing loss!