Dear Lipreading Mom,
I would like to ask if you could send me an examples on how to educate my family on communicating with me. I am tired of repeating to them that they need to rephrase their conversations to me, or them saying, "Never mind, it wasn't important." I have tried to explain to them what I need; their respond is "Quit feeling self-pity." I do not do that, and I don't think they have any idea what moderate/severe hearing loss is like. It is an ongoing problem with my family that has created an argument where now that I can't mention the words "hearing loss" or "deaf." Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
All of us---whether hearing or not---want and need to feel included in communications with our loved ones. The fact that your family disregards your hearing loss greatly concerns me. Have your relatives seen your audiogram (hearing test results) that indicate the level of your hearing loss? That was a huge eye-opener for my loved ones when I showed it to them. Those who thought my hearing was "normal" were shocked to learn that I am deaf to many sounds; the audiogram was medical proof.
Something I wrote a few years ago may be worth sharing with your family. In "An Open Letter to My Hearing Friends," I describe what a typical day is like for me with hearing loss. You might want to adapt this letter to explain your hearing loss, then share it with your family.
The most important thing I've learned with hearing loss is to make my family feel included in it. Do you have access to local meetings of such support groups as the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) or Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA)? HLAA has a wonderful magazine that I read and share with my loved ones. It might be worth looking into.
Know that you are not alone. There are millions of us worldwide who have hearing loss, so we need to stick together. Look for online hearing loss support groups, such as the Say What Club and DeafandHOH.com. Each month, Deaf Insight hosts a DeafChat that you may want to attend.
Please keep me posted.
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Shanna Groves was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss after the birth of her first child. She was 27. Raised in a hearing family, Shanna traces her hearing loss to a genetic loss on the paternal side of her family. She is mom to three young children, a published author, and speaker. Her books are featured at www.ShannaGroves.com. Shanna blogs about being a hard of hearing mom at http://LipreadingMom.com.