<![CDATA[Deaf Insight - Ask Lipreading Mom]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 23:38:07 -0800EditMySite<![CDATA[Help! Can you relate to my life as a lip reader?]]>Sat, 26 Oct 2013 15:20:17 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-can-you-relate-to-my-life-as-a-lip-reader
<![CDATA[Help! How can I tell if I'm shouting in public?]]>Fri, 11 Oct 2013 22:10:25 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-how-can-i-tell-if-im-shouting-in-publicDear Lipreading Mom,

How do I know if I am speaking too loud or soft? I can't tell for sure because of my hearing loss.

Vexed About Volume

Dear Volume,

I have a tendency to speak too loud. My kids and husband usually give me the 'OMG, you are too loud' look in public, which means to tone it down a notch. 

A nicer way to handle this, I think, would be to give me a simple Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down. Thumbs up to raise my voice. Thumbs down to quiet it up a bit. 

Which gesture do you prefer?

Lipreading Mom

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<![CDATA[Help! I Have Hearing Loss and Am Depressed]]>Fri, 04 Oct 2013 20:00:52 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-i-have-hearing-loss-and-am-depressedDear Lipreading Mom,

What do you do about depression? I started losing my hearing about six years ago and it has gotten worse I can tell I have hearing aids and I am coping (I teach so sometimes it’s difficult). But I find myself, especially in the mornings/night worrying, and I know there’s nothing I can do about it…but I become depressed thinking about losing more hearing. This is the first medical
issue I’ve ever had and it has made me feel very vulnerable. Any suggestions? There are no hearing support groups anywhere near me. I’ve gotten so scared that I’m afraid to have my hearing retested. It’s impacting my happiness.

-Sinking into Depression

Dear Sinking,

Thank you for your words. You have my sympathies and understanding with your situation. Depression is common among people with adult-onset hearing loss. Although my hearing loss was diagnosed 12 years ago, the big “D” has been
another health issue I’ve experienced. While there may not be a local hearing loss support group where you live, I encourage you to visit an online hearing loss support group. Two I’ve visited are Deaf Chat at www.deaf-insight.com/chat and Open Chat Night at www.openchatnight.com. Also, visit the Hearing Loss Association of America site (www.hearingloss.org) for tips on coping with
hearing loss and depression. Some things that may be helpful in coping with hearing loss-related depression:
  • Talk to your family doctor and/or audiologist about your depression. You may be referred to a counselor who specializes in coping with hearing loss depression and grief. I found that for many years, I grieved the hearing that I used to have. The counselor pointed me to a grief support group and discussed medical options should I choose them.

  • Write down your thoughts about hearing loss. I’ve kept journals for years, and this writing allowed me to express my worries, fears and sadness in a tangible way. It was much better for me to write about these feelings than to suppress them.

  • Pursue the hobbies/interests you enjoy that don’t necessarily require “perfect” hearing. Although phone conversations are difficult for me, I enjoy meeting friends one-on-one for coffee. I also enjoy regular exercise and have found that it curbs some of the depression. Other ideas: Reading, crossword puzzles, bike riding, woodworking.

  • Realize that you are not alone with hearing loss. The more you accept the loss, the more likely you will be open to others about it. And the more I’ve shared about my hearing loss with others, the more people have opened up to me about their hearing concerns.

With time, you may discover how your hearing loss can be a way to encourage and connect with others in a similar circumstance. Your experiences and wisdom are and will be important.

Please keep me posted.

Lipreading Mom

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<![CDATA[Help! Hearing Loss is a Lonely Place]]>Sat, 28 Sep 2013 07:31:19 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-hearing-loss-is-a-lonely-placeDear Lipreading Mom,

I lost hearing in my right eight-plus years ago due to bi-lateral Meniere's Disease and am losing what I have in my left. I have taken some ASL and read lips very little; I haven't mastered the skill. I just wanted to ask a question. Do you ever feel as if you do not belong in the hearing world or the deaf world? This has been an incessant frustration for me as I guess I am having an identity crisis with regards to do I belong in either. Just wanted to see if you ever felt the same. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely, Lost Between Two Worlds

Dear Lost Between,

Thanks so much for contacting me. Your message is something I have reflected upon for the past couple of days. What I can say is this: You are not alone. There is a great (although sometimes silent) majority of people who can relate to your experience. When my hearing loss was diagnosed 12 years ago, I dealt with the thought of 'Where do I fit in now?' My immediate family and friends were all hearing, and I knew few people who were deaf. Where do people like you and I fit in?

You might find my blog post 'Can You Help Me Count My Lost Decibels?' interesting. It talks about what I learned about my own hearing loss and the hearing loss of other people. Here it is: http://lipreadingmom.com/2012/01/09/can-you-help-me-count-my-lost-decibels/

If you'd like to find local or online groups with people who relate to you and me, a helpful resource in the U.S. is the Hearing Loss Association of America (www.hearingloss.org). A blog and online discussion group I enjoy is www.DeafandHOH.com

In response to your message---yes, I can relate. But I also know that people with hearing loss are out there waiting to meet you.

Would you please keep me posted?

Sincerely, Lipreading Mom

<![CDATA[A Year of Show Me Your Ears]]>Fri, 13 Sep 2013 03:42:18 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/a-year-of-show-me-your-earsPicture
Dear Readers,

As a special tribute to all of you who make the Ask Lipreading Mom column so special, I'd like you to join me for a celebration.

This Saturday, September 14, marks the one-year anniversary of my favorite project in the world, Show Me Your Ears.

What is this campaign? It is an awareness that ears---whether they can hear or not---are beautiful. I spent two years hiding my hearing aids behind long hair. Finally, I said ENOUGH! You can now often see me with a ponytail with my royal blue hearing aids in public view.

I'm proud to show off my ears. If you are, too, join me by sending your ear photo today. Learn more on the Show Me Your Ears page.

Lipreading Mom

<![CDATA[Help! I Struggle to Hear and Understand Children]]>Fri, 06 Sep 2013 20:29:48 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-i-struggle-to-hear-and-understand-childrenPicture
Dear Lipreading Mom,

Any tips on how to understand kids' voices when I help out at school and church?

Looking for Options

Dear Looking,

Because my sensorineural hearing loss makes it difficult for me to understand a child’s delicate voices, someone must come alongside me to repeat or explain what the child has spoken. I call this person a hearing helper. Some of the ways in which this person helps:

 * Pulls me aside to slowly repeat a child’s comment or question

* Writes down information spoken by the child, such as their name if a new student

 * Assists with behind-the-scene tasks, like gathering supplies, so I can focus on each child

 * Reminds children to use quiet voices and hands to prevent unnecessary background noise

 * Encourages children to face me when speaking so I can lip read them

 * Gives one-on-one attention to special needs children who are mainstreamed in the class  

Two times a month, I teach Sunday school class with kindergarteners and a rotating base of helpers. Usually there are one to two assistants with me in each class. While their primary function is to assist with Sunday school class preparation and hands-on instruction, they are so much more to me. Hearing helpers are my ears, hands, lips, and feet. They allow me to be involved in my daughter’s classroom and get to know her friends.  Without them, I would struggle to understand everything my students say.

As I shared with one of the parents when she picked up her son one Sunday, it takes a team effort to lead a class. You might ask someone already in the school or church to be your hearing helper. You would be doing yourself a favor---and giving that person the important job of keeping you involved with the kids.

Lipreading Mom


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<![CDATA[Help! I Am Deaf and Thinking of Switching Jobs without Phone Use]]>Fri, 30 Aug 2013 14:29:22 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-i-am-deaf-and-thinking-of-switching-jobs-without-phone-usePicture
Dear Friends,

The following question and my response were originally posted in the Lipreading Moms and Dads Network group on Facebook. Come join us sometime!

Dear Lipreading Moms and Dads,

I'm profoundly deaf with a cochlear implant in my right ear, and I struggle a lot with using the phone. What jobs do you all have, as I'm looking to  change my job but don't want one that involves using the phone? I so need some ideas in what I can do. Thanks!

Job Option Seeker

Dear Option Seeker,

When I switched careers (from working as a full-time magazine editor to a freelance writer and editor from home, I joined online discussion groups in the fields I was interested in (writing, parenting, hearing loss awareness) and networked with members. I landed writing and editing contracts that way, which eventually led to publishing my books. You might search for websites in your areas of interest. 

In answer to your question about phone use... I rely more on email than anything else in my writing and teaching work. When I do have to use the phone, I use a Bluetooth phone device that wirelessly connects my phone to my hearing aids. I also have used CapTel phone captioning services, but there is a time delay and typos because CapTel uses voice recognition software (definitely not perfect).

If you use sign language or cued speech, you might explore video phone options through your local department of vocational rehabilitation. 

It's a little scary to make the switch, but your happiness will make it so worth it. Please keep us posted!

Lipreading Mom


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<![CDATA[Help! I Want to Improve My Lipreading Skills]]>Fri, 23 Aug 2013 19:40:30 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-i-want-to-improve-my-lipreading-skillsPicture
Dear Lipreading Mom,

I have a hearing loss and have read people's lips for years. So I've gotten good at it. My problem is endurance. How can I keep from getting so tired from understanding people by watching them talk?

Reading Into Exhaustion

Dear Reading,

It's true. Those of us with hearing loss rely more on our vision and mental processing skills than our auditory function. As a lipreading/speechreading instructor for late-deafened adults, I have researched this subject a great deal. Our brains and eyes require more muscle power than our ears in the communication process. Listening with our ears working 100 percent seems effortless. But when attempting to 'hear' with our eyes, brains, and ears that *can't* hear 100 percent, we've got our work cut out for us.

Think about this: You don't want to miss a speaker's words, so your eyeballs remain wide open, unblinking, for a period of time. Meanwhile, all your brain capacity focuses on one thing only: deciphering the speaker's words. This goes on for seconds, minutes, and sometimes hours without a break. No wonder you are tired!

Repeat after me: R - E - A - D - !

R - Relax
I can't tell you the number of times I've had to excuse myself from a conversation in order to give my eyes and brain a break. That's because reading lips is exhausting work. Before attempting to lip read (speech read), make sure your eyes and brain are fully relaxed. At the start of my lipreading/speechreading classes, I have students breathe deeply five times in the nose and out the mouth to achieve a relaxed state of mind.

During conversations, take frequent breaks by:

1) Closing your eyes and massaging your forehead
2) Taking a brisk walk down the hall
3) Drinking a glass of water
4) Excusing yourself to the restroom 

E - Eyes
Prepare your eyes for speechreading by minimizing any visual distractions in your environment. This includes moving away from bright sunlight to prevent eye glare and positioning your seat to where you are facing away from distractions, such as a TV, computer, window, or crowd of people. Open and close your eyes several times and rotate your eyes to exercise the visual muscles. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, make sure they are clean and ready to wear.

A - Attention
With your eyes ready to focus on speechreading, the brain muscle comes next. First, strengthen your mind by taking care of your health. Make sure you are well fed, hydrated, and rested prior to speechreading. 

If you are dealing with mental clarity issues related to profound stress or depression, seek medical help. Lipreading Mom can't encourage this enough, so I will repeat it. If you are dealing with debilitating stress or depression, seek medical help. Speechreading is just not possible without a clear head, and getting medical help in this area was one of the best things Lipreading Mom ever did.

With your eyes closed, massage your forehead in small circular motions to get the blood flowing. Breathe deeply in and out several times.

D - Decipher
Speechreading can often seem like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Each word that someone speaks to us must be processed visually, mentally, and through whatever auditory ability you may have. A speaker's mouth might appear to be saying "Hello," but the conversation has to do with her friend "Helen." Therefore, you process mentally that the speaker probably just said "Helen," not "Hello."

This is where your brain, eyes, and ears (if you hear even just a little) work together to understand the meaning of speech. This is important, so I will underline it: A person can only understand 30 to 40 percent of speech by sight alone. The use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, or assistive listening devices (such as FM systems) will help you understand up to 80 percent or more. 

If you can't hear at all and don't wear hearing assistive devices, you might want to learn sign language or cued speech to enhance your speechreading comprehension. Make sure the speaker or an interpreter uses whatever communication method you need to decipher speech.

! - The cool exclamation point
Now that you are ready to R-E-A-D, the fun part comes in. Share all of this information with your loved ones. Educate them about speechreading and what it takes for you to understand them. Then ask them to follow the R-E-A-D steps with you sometime. I guarantee you that seeing their wide eyes and dropped jaws will be worth all the effort. You'll be thinking, "Ha! Now you know what I go through every day."

Let the speech-R-E-A-D-! games begin.  

Lipreading Mom 


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<![CDATA[Help! I'm Having Trouble Learning Sign Language]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2013 20:38:57 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-im-having-trouble-learning-sign-languagePicture
Dear Lipreading Mom,

Sign language has been difficult for me to learn. I don't know why I can't remember signs or get confused when people sign to me. Can you recommend any help?

Lost in ASL Translation

Dear Lost in ASL,

Lipreading Mom has an embarrassing confession to make: I have the same difficulty. Whenever someone signs, I stare in confusion, trying to draw meaning from their moving fingers. I’m not proud to admit that while I can learn and regularly use sign language at home and church, I don’t always understand what another person is signing to me. I may have sign language dyslexia. That’s not an official diagnosis, nor have I ever heard of someone else having this kind of dyslexia. But it applies in both of our cases.

 Do You Have Sign Language Dyslexia?

Since you can relate, you might find the following suggestions helpful: 
  • When signing with someone, have that person stand beside you, not in front of you. Otherwise, that person’s signing movements will be like a “mirror reflection” to your eyes—backwards.

  • Download one or more American Sign Language (ASL) apps, and practice regularly. HearingHearing.com lists several apps.

  • Visit events where sign language is common. Deaf Coffee Chats are an excellent way to learn sign language and are held all over the United States. Click here to see if a chat group meets in your area.

  • Learn songs in sign language. I’ve found that music makes learning to sign easier, because the hand movements are more dramatic and often slower. One of the ladies at my church signs the worship music. One day, I asked her
    how she learned to sign the words so beautifully. Her answer: Watching YouTube videos. She finds out, in advance, what the worship songs will be each Sunday, then she Googles the name of the song and “sign language video” on
    YouTube. Click here to search for sign language videos to your popular songs.

I hope these tips will ease some of your (and my) signing confusion.

Lipreading Mom

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<![CDATA[Help! I Suspect My Spouse Has Hearing Loss]]>Fri, 09 Aug 2013 21:01:06 GMThttp://www.deaf-insight.com/ask-lipreading-mom/help-i-suspect-my-spouse-has-hearing-lossPicture
Dear Lipreading Mom,

I just realized that my husband may have difficulties hearing me. At home, I will stand behind him to discuss something. After five minutes of me talking, he'll interrupt and ask who I was talking to. He also has become increasingly isolated from social events. We used to go to the movies, and he refuses to go now. The only social outlet he has is golfing, and he plays alone. How do you suggest I approach him about his hearing difficulties?
Silently Suffering Spouse

Dear  Silently Suffering,

When my husband and I married 17 years ago, he says he remembers my difficulties with having conversations while driving. He also remembers me slightly turning my head in the car to face him when he spoke. Apparently, I was lipreading him back then---five years before my progressive hearing loss was diagnosed.

Yet my husband never told me what he suspected. Why is that, I ask?

First, there is this other silent companion walking with a newly hard of hearing person. I call it MS. DENIAL. When we lose something dear to us, like our hearing, we often have the mentality, 'If I don't acknowledge it, then it doesn't exist.' Realize that MS. DENIAL may be walking with your husband. Like you, MS. DENIAL wants your husband's undivided attention, and she's a very jealous companion. It may take someone else to come along and get your husband's attention. 

Along comes MR. ANGER. He wants your husband to be mad at the world for his hearing difficulties, something that he still refuses to accept. It may take someone with even more persuasive powers to rein in MR. ANGER.

Say hello to MISS DEPRESSION. She may remind your husband of his great-aunt who lived alone her entire adult life. Just the thought of going to a social event with strangers sends MISS DEPRESSION (and your husband) into a giant hole of self-doubt and pity. Be patient, because it could take your husband weeks, months, or longer to step away from MISS DEPRESSION'S clingy grasp.

Finally, you and your husband are sitting at the dinner table one evening. During a quiet moment of reflection, he announces, 'I think I may have hearing loss.'

You nod. These are the words you waited a long time to hear. The fact that your husband has finally come to this conclusion on his own makes you realize that the only way anyone can find ACCEPTANCE is on his own.


Now...in the meantime while you wait for your husband to embrace ACCEPTANCE of his hearing loss, what do you do? Every time you speak with him, make sure you do the following:

1) Gently get his attention before speaking. If needed, pull him to a quiet spot.
2) Breathe deeply in and out before speaking. (You may need the extra breath if you need to repeat yourself a couple of times.)
3) Slowly and distinctly say that you have a question to ask, or a comment to make, etc., before stating the actual question or comment.
4) Say each word to him slowly with a slight pause between words.
5) Be prepared to repeat or rephrase your question or comment as many times as needed.

For your own sanity, seek out resources that can help YOU better understand hearing loss. An organization that literally saved my sanity (and my husband's) was the Hearing Loss Association of America. Read through this website, and consider joining some of its online forums. Find the support you need so that you can be a support for your husband. It's the BEST thing you can do for yourself. Just ask my husband.