Hearing is a sense that many of use take for granted, until it is actually gone. When many people think of hearing loss, deafness, or even hearing aids, they often think of adults or elders. Little do people know that hearing loss is also very common in babies, toddlers and even teenagers. People can be born deaf or with slight hearing loss or they can develop hearing problems over time. The number of Americans with some form of hearing loss has doubled over the past 30 years. According to a recent study, as many as 738,000 individuals in the U.S. have severe to profound hearing loss with roughly 8% under the age of 18. All in all, more people need to understand that hearing problems do not have to only be age related. Many people, such as children, who we would assume have perfect hearing may be affected by some form of hearing loss.
As mentioned above hearing loss is very common in children of all ages. Around 15% of children ages 6-19 years have some form of low or high frequency hearing loss of at least 16 decibel in one or both ears. Children who are hard of hearing may find it harder than others who have more normal hearing to learn grammar, vocabulary, word order and other forms of verbal communication. There are a few options that children can turn to depending on the severity of their hearing loss and what they feel comfortable with. The first option would be the use of hearing aids where sound enters through a microphone, is then amplified and shaped by a processor and then directed into the users ear. This increases the users hearing levels allowing them to hear well. An option for communication that people who are hard of hearing may choose to use is sign language. Sign language is a form of communication that is used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing along with their family members and others who they are close with as a way for them to communicate with one another.
As mentioned above, children who are affected by a form of hearing loss may have a harder time in school learning grammar and vocabulary. For these reasons, children may be picked on and bullied by their peers because others see their hearing inefficiencies as a disability or if they wear hearing aids, they see them as “weird.” Although children who are hard of hearing may be faced with a bit more adversity than those who do not suffer from hearing loss, this should not discourage or deter them from pursuing their goals and dreams. A recent example of someone who has defied the laws of hearing loss and has continued to persevere towards his goals is Nick Hamilton. Now when you first hear the name you may not know who he is. Nick Hamilton, 22, is a recent graduate of Kent State University, where he played four years of collegiate baseball. At Kent State he racked up a .346 average his senior year and he and his teammates competed in the College World Series. After the season, Nick was selected in the 35th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Cleveland Indians. After reading this you would think everything is great, the clincher is that Nick is affected by hearing loss. Ever since he was 3 years old Nick has been battling hearing loss. After surgery as a child, Nick was able to halt his hearing loss and he now wears hearing aids to help with his hearing levels. While in the batters box one hearing aid shuts off to eliminate feedback noise and while in the field Nick often uses lip reading to understand what his coaches and teammates are saying. Stories like this go to show that even hearing loss should not keep children from pushing forward in pursuit of their dreams. Just because someone communicates with their hands, hears with their eyes, or uses hearing aids does not mean that they are not able to accomplish the things that people who hear perfectly fine are able to achieve.
EarQ a provider of hearing aids, runs a campaign called HearStrong in an effort to eliminate social stigmas and change the general perception of hearing in our society today. Within this campaign, HearStrong tries to identify what they call “HearStrong Champions” who are people that have over come the odds of hearing loss and who serve as role models for others who are affected by hearing loss to pursue their goals and dreams.
Just because you are hard of hearing or deaf does not mean that you are different from others who are not. As parents it is our job to make sure we stay up to date not only on our children’s general health but their hearing health as well. Hearing health sometimes gets swept under the carpet and forgot about when at the doctors. Also as parents, if your child is affected by hearing loss it is your job to sit down with them and talk through the situation and to make sure they understand that this does not mean that they should feel any different from anyone else. With some knowledge, technology and a little heart, hearing loss can be proven wrong. Anything is possible!
BLOGGER: Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!
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Blogger: Monica Hood
I created Deaf Insight to help spread deaf awareness. It is a place for everyone to come together to help share with the world! In this blog, I discuss my thoughts about many things. I hope you all enjoy it!