“You have something in your ear.”
No that’s my hearing aid its suppose to be in my ear.
“Oh so like you can’t hear, are you deaf? CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”
There was no need for that I can hear you fine and no I’m not deaf I have hearing loss there is a difference.
“Is there really, either you hear or you don’t, oh wait does that mean you do that hand thing to communicate what’s it called?”
“Yes that, do you do that since you can’t hear.”
No I never learned that plus I’ve been speaking to you perfectly find, just because I can’t fully hear doesn’t mean I can’t hear at all.
“But you said you have hearing loss. You’re not making sense.”
This is one of many conversation I have regularly as I was growing up. My mother wanted me to view my hearing loss as something that made me special, but entering into an elementary school where staff and students had never heard of hearing loss didn’t make me feel special. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me and that I was a problem. I thought that if I were to not wear my hearing aids, it would help me make friends or get a classmate to talk to me. Since I wanted to keep my hearing loss a secret, it made it difficult for my teachers to believe me when I said I did my homework wrong because didn’t hear them explain the examples in class. I was that student in class who would ask everyone else what the teacher said after she just said it.
I still remember the fire drill in kindergarten when my teacher was telling us instruction in what to do when it happens. All I heard was to stand in a straight line as we are walking out the building, as we were waiting outside I asked the student in the other line behind me how long does the drill last. Right before he could answer he looked up and stood quiet. I figured maybe he didn’t know, when I turn to face forward I was frightened to see my teachers face right in front of mine any closer I think our nose could of touch. She told me in a firm voice to turn around, stay quiet and follow the class. As we were walking she was next to me with her hand on my back pushing me to move faster as if I was walking slow. Heading into class I quickly sat in my seat as the teacher started to announce “ Very good class everyone seem to follow the direction except for one student who decided to make her own rules” she looked directly at me. I was so embarrassed I turn to look around the class and saw students pointing and giggling. It was the first time I cried so quietly, questioning myself what was wrong with me.
The children at my elementary school started to get a little to comfortable with staring at my ears. I didn’t feel to right every time that happen, it was like they were waiting for me to entertain them. One classmate decided to ask me “ What’s in your ears,is there something wrong with you?” I didn’t answer, I was too afraid too but after hearing the same question repeatedly, I finally said I have hearing loss. My hearing aid is what helps me hear. After that, other students started to ask about the “things in my ear” and it escalated to them yelling,poking and touching my ears and then pulling my hearing aids out. The average cost for one hearing aid is $3,500 and your everyday insurance doesn’t cover hearing aids. I wear two, one for my left and one for my right, from kindergarten to third grade I had to fix my hearing aids five times. It came to the point I had to go to school without hearing aids, I had to work twice as hard to earn passing grades.
I use to find it difficult to accept the fact that I was different but now I am more accepting of it.Other people think I’m different and question me on what I am instead of who I am. People would leave me alone unless it was mentioned on a paper or someone noticed my hearing aids. I am treated differently like my hearing loss is something that just happened and all of a sudden I’m viewed as someone completely different and they don’t know how to treat me, even though they have already met me. On some occasions people would ask why don’t I just say that I am deaf because It’s easier to understand. I won’t say I am deaf because I am not. They make it seem that just saying you’re deaf makes you someone to praised on because you had it hard, and people would treat me better If I say that I am. It’s not a choice to have hearing, I can’t pick and choose a day when I want to be deaf or when I want to fully hear everything. I was born this way hearing loss is when your ability to hear is reduced. It makes it more difficult for you to hear speech even though it’s loud enough to hear.
My mother would make sure I was getting the help I need to improve my skills as a student and boost my confidence as a person who is capable of achieving high goals.My mother would ask staff from the school to see what are the best opportunities are for me. She also made these staff members knew who i was. My mother would make sure to attend every meeting to make sure I will be receiving the help that I needed. Taking off of work didn’t matter to her her first priority was me. She encourage me to do new things like clubs and finding out that my school had cross country for me to be active with the school and with other students. I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.
If it wasn’t for my mother pushing me for what she saw and knew what I was capable of doing. In my high school years I was placed in a program that help students with their learning disability and are deaf or hard of hearing this lead me to meeting the most supportive and hard working teachers I know. They understood my mothers position, doing the best they can to help their child to have a better life. I had to learn to speak up for myself and create a bond with my teachers which wasn’t easy, the thought of walking up to a teacher asking to place in front of the class so I’ll be able to hear them or to raise my hand and ask for the teacher to explain it in another way, 14 year old me said no, there’s no way that’s happening.
It took a long time to allow my mother to help and support me with finding my voice. Before I use to be terrified to ask for help, I had no clue students like me have accommodations in class, but now I’m able to talk with a teacher, i’m awkward about it, but I get the help I need. I use to have nothing but failing grades, then I worked my way to entering honor classes , even tried an AP course. I join sports like cross country and track, I became involved, started to get comfortable with my community, I was even able to travel to Senegal West Africa to help a community in poverty. This wouldn’t have happen if I allow the negativity win, people still question about my hearing but now I have the upper hand because I’ve proven myself that my hearing doesn’t limit me, it pushes me to learn another route to my goals.
This is so great! My sibling also has hearing aids, and he is placed in a class similar to yours. Despite the limitations he is a smart little guy that loves to have fun. Your experience is so moving. I love it!