5 Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss in Children, Strickland Ear Clinic

“Children with untreated hearing loss are inherently disadvantaged when it comes to paying attention, understanding and following directions, and the ability to express oneself. This can sometimes manifest as externalizing behavior, which can be a display of frustration that is difficult to manage.

On the other hand, the disadvantage when it comes to learning and communicating can lead to low self-esteem that can result in depressed, withdrawn behavior.”

5 Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss in Children

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Mild Hearing Loss, article by VeryWell

“Children with mild hearing loss have more difficulties than adults because they don’t have a large vocabulary and experience to draw on.

Children need a louder speech sound if there is background noise than an adult does. In a classroom situation, hearing well can be particularly difficult. Depending on the noise level of the classroom and the distance of the teacher, a student with mild hearing loss can miss 25-40% of speech and 50% of class discussions.”

 

Mild Hearing Loss

HEARING LOSS & TINNITUS STATISTICS

 

Sharing this information…

HEARING LOSS & TINNITUS STATISTICS

~ 50 million people in the America and ~360 million worldwide
1 in 5 teens
1 in 5 adults
3 in 5 veterans returning from war

~ Hearing loss is the 2nd most prevalent health issue globally
The number of people with hearing loss is more than those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and diabetes combined.

Those with even mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Toxic Families

I recently stumbled upon an article about Toxic Families.

Looking back, I see an uncanny similarity to my childhood.  It’s funny how time can ease those bad memories, the fears, and the pain.  The wounds are still present but we forget what the discomfort felt like.  Then, when we look at the scar, we unwilling recall every detail of the past.  People will tell you, don’t look at the scar, don’t speak of the scar, forget the scar.  Some think if the scar is invisible, the circumstance is imaginary.  Nothing can be farther from the truth.

I was the youngest of three in the family with a single parent household, until my mother began dating our step father when I was a young five year old.

I was soon assessed and unequally measured up against my siblings and I didn’t fare well.  I cried too much and acted like a baby.  I sucked my thumb, wet my bed, talked too much and was too loud.  I was lazy in school, did not pay attention, did not listen nor did I perform well in school.  I was too sensitive, and too emotional.

I realize now that I was a neglected child.  I had all the classic signs that something was wrong but none of the adults would acknowledge or validate my very real and natural reactions to my circumstances.  If I were in the foster care or an adoptee, I would have been classified as a special needs child.

My needs and my disabilities were ignored, despite the absence of my father and the only child in our family who did not have a biological father to actively spend quality time with me (which I had between the ages of birth and four years old but then abruptly stopped).  Watching my two older siblings leave for the weekend with their paternal grandparents or father after us three kids were inseparable for most the time and then being told that I couldn’t go because this was “their grandparents or father” left me feeling forsaken.  Their grandparents, the Whitaker’s, did try to include me.  They started sending me $25.00 during Christmas time, the same amount as my siblings.  I would be reminded by our mother how generous it was of them to include me and how grateful I should be.  On rare occasions I eventually got to tag along with my siblings but not until I got much older.  I remember a time or two being reminded by my sister that they were “her” grandparents, not mine.  She didn’t have to tell me.  I mean they were nice to me but I was very aware that I was not their grandchild.  I felt like a guest when visiting, not family.  Even my brother and sister acted different when we were visiting with the Whitakers.  (Back then, none of us kids knew that their father is actually listed as my father on my birth certificate.)

What little scraps I got, I accepted it.  After all, I didn’t have my father or paternal grandparents picking me up or doting over me.  My paternal family didn’t have much to do with me, except for my sister Chick.  There were no letters, Christmas or birthday cards or presents, no phone calls or visits with my paternal family except on a very rare occasion.  I recall my mother taking me to a family reunion on my father’s side when I was a freshman in high school.  That was the first time we had seen each other since I was a baby.  Hardly anyone recognized me.  And I surely didn’t remember most of them.  I got to invite a friend of mine who’s Italian.  She fit right in with my Italian relatives and many thought she was family instead of me.  My paternal family didn’t know me.  My cousins, in-laws, aunts and uncles did not know me.  They knew my sister Chick, my half-sister from my dad, but they didn’t know me.  I had to keep explaining that I was Mario’s daughter.  My father, at the time, was in prison for murder.  But again, none of that mattered to my parents or family.  They didn’t feel the need to take me to a counselor or psychologist to help me cope.  My emotional or physical challenges, which began when I was a baby, were all in my head.  I was blamed for everything.

I was called,

A baby

A Bed-wetter

Squirt (Nickname), a pun on being a bed-wetter

A Crybaby

A Whiner

A Hypochondriac

An Airhead

I was accused of being too sensitive, overreacting and weak.

These labels would stick with me throughout my childhood and adulthood.

To borrow a quote from Oprah, my family didn’t see me, hear me and what I said didn’t really matter.

I will never forgot the first time I went to the state of Texas, DARS office to see if I qualified for disability assistance for my hearing impairment.  And I did.  That was first time I received validation.  It felt strange, really.  I kept waiting for someone to accuse me of faking it, since my family never acknowledged my hearing impairment or tried to provide any accommodations.  They treated me as if I was equal to my siblings (and classmates) when in fact I was not.  They all had normal hearing, I did not.

When DARS recently sent me to a new audiologist for a hearing test to reassess my hearing and to see if I qualified for new hearing aids, the doctor, who is also hearing impaired asked me when I was diagnosed.  I told him when I was in the second grade.  So his next question was assuming that I got hearing aids at the same time.  I explained to him that I did not.  He said his parents, who were both teachers discovered his hearing loss which was approximately about the same as mine as a child.  He said his speech and learning progress didn’t match up to his older sister so his parents knew something was wrong.  I told him that was funny because it was actually the teachers that discovered my hearing loss and noticed I was not speaking or learning at the same rate as my classmates.  But for whatever reason, even after I was diagnosed with permanent hearing loss (mild right ear and moderate left ear), my parents chose not to pursue hearing aids or any other type of assistance to help me with my hearing impairment.  Despite the repeated comments on my report cards that stated, “She does not listen, does not pay attention.  She day dreams a lot,” they still didn’t get it nor did they go to school to defend me or explain my situation.  The comments from my parents on the back of my report card are proof of that.  Now, I realize my parents were not rocket scientist or college educated at the time, but my goodness, the proof was very apparent and yet they ignored my diagnoses and even blamed me as the reason for my grades and behavior in school.  Not only did they ignore the diagnoses but they never took me to an audiologist for the remainder of my school years to have my hearing re-tested.  Think about that.  Can you imagine your child being diagnosed with a vision problem and not buying him glasses nor getting annual exams to see if his vision got worse.  More often than not, once you’ve been diagnosed with a vision or hearing impairment, over time, your ability level will decrease.  My mother said, “The school tested you every year.”  But sadly, it’s not the school’s responsibility to monitor our children’s health issues; it’s our parents.

In addition, schools do not always catch a child’s ability to see or hear or monitor their progress.  My co-worker told me a story about her nephew (her brother’s step son) who is in the third grade.  She said after the school suggested their son have an eye exam, his parents learned that their son has a serious visual impairment.  She said his glasses were so thick.  She commented at how he used to squint all the time (for years) and no one ever thought anything of it.  She said the first time she saw him with his glasses on; he was smiling, talking and seemed so much more confident, a big change from his previous behavior.  Imagine that.  Just obtaining glasses and being able to see better made him more confident.  His parents felt really bad for not noticing earlier and she said they kept apologizing to him over and over again and treated him extra special.  As parents, we are not perfect.  We miss things.  But when we learn that our child has special needs and there is a valid reason why our child may not be performing the way we expect (age appropriately) and we have an opportunity to help them perform better but choose to ignore it, that’s neglect.

So instead of my family validating my impairment or emotional needs, they scapegoated me.  I became an easy target and easy prey.  I was weak.  If something happened to me, they responded, “Well you should have known better,” or “you should have done this,” or “you should have learned.”  Then as I got older, the comments would continue as such, (actual comments copied from emails or facebook), “You are reading too much into this,”  “I think you’re over analyzing situations.”  “Don’t make problems where none exist.”  “Feeling sorry for yourself.”  “Don’t make a big deal about it.”  “By all means, do whatever you can to help others and yourself. Just remember, others need positives to move forward….not negatives or rehashing. It might work in a therapy session, but not here! No audience!”, and lastly,  “LOST CAUSE….LOST SOUL!!!”

I have to admit, the last one hurt real bad.  I don’t think I could ever say that to one of my children.

And if that wasn’t enough, my family would recruit other members of the family and some friends to chime in and bash Karen and then forward me their email.

This was from my uncle after reading My Storybook Father, “A lot had it worse than she did growing up.  I can recall Colleen’s pouts,” and “Surviving the Sisters of St. Joseph who must of been trained by the Nazis.  Also boo hoo…..my cousins and my two best friends moving away before I even got into high school.”

Some people will never see you or hear you or validate you.  And some will.

I had another uncle share this, “I have a better understanding of what she went through in life. My life was a walk in the park compared to what came her way. With God beside her she has done an amazing job.”

TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR THE DEAF AND HEARING IMPAIRED

TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR THE DEAF AND HEARING IMPAIRED

The above link has some great information for anyone who lives or works with HOH or deaf persons.

As many of you know, I have had a hearing impairment since I was a small child.

My parents never purchased hearing aids to assist with my hearing loss because they said the only suggestion from the professional staff at Temple Hospital in Philadelphia was to move my seat to the front of the classroom.  Now that would be fine if the teacher stood in the front of the classroom, close to me, facing my direction all day long.  But we all know that wasn’t the case back then or even now-a-days.  But especially back then because teachers relied heavily on the chalk board to help teach their students.  So sound was going away from my direction throughout the day.  Also, during group discussion (question and answer times) Hard of Hearing kids cannot hear what the other kids who sit across the room from them are saying.  And if the HOH kid raises their hand to ask for the information to be repeated, they get accused of not paying attention.  So this becomes an embarrassment to the HOH kid.  Then they get labeled as a daydreamer, slacker, doesn’t pay attention, and doesn’t listen.

I passed every school year with a C average (mixed with some D’s, some B’s and very few A’s and F’s).  And I graduated with my high school class.  Not bad, considering kids with a mild to moderate hearing loss like myself achieve on average 1-4 grade levels behind their hearing peers without intervention.  And yet,  I was made to feel that I was not performing well and was punished at home for my bad grades and for not working to the best of my ability because I was “not listening” and “not paying attention.” Go figure!

I’m thinking this would have raised some red flags for some parents but somehow these obvious signs for my known diagnosis went on mute ears and deaf minds.  My family treated my hearing impairment like a lame excuse rather than a contributing factor.  They basically ignored my diagnosis and I became the bunt of the jokes in the family.

Maybe it was a sign of the times back then.

As a result, I hardly ever acknowledged my own hearing loss growing up because my family rarely acknowledge that it was a part of me and who I was as a person.  I was considered to be “slow”, an air-headed, and a host of other negative connotations.

As for me, I never disliked being HOH and I embraced that part of me.  I just disliked the way others perceived and treated me. And the lack of support I received from my family did not help my self confidence.  Being expected to perform at a level equal to my siblings and peers when we were not entirely playing on a equal field was frustrating.  I truly believe that if my parents would have taken more interest and worked with the teachers or defended me sometimes, I could have excelled more academically and socially.

When I started my new job at the end of last year, I acknowledged my hearing impairment to my new employer and told them straight up, I am HOH, I wear hearing aids and this is how I hear.  They were very understanding and even allowed me to speak to our department in the monthly meeting.

So my questions is, did any of YOU have a similar experience where your family and/or educators ignored or seemed to “forget about” your diagnosis?

Effects of Hearing Loss on Development

Effects of Hearing Loss on Development

I would say this sounds like my experience as an adolescent…

Speaking

Children with hearing loss often cannot hear quiet speech sounds such as “s,” “sh,” “f,” “t,” and “k” and therefore do not include them in their speech. Thus, speech may be difficult to understand.

Children with hearing loss may not hear their own voices when they speak. They may speak too loudly or not loud enough. They may have a speaking pitch that is too high. They may sound like they are mumbling because of poor stress, poor inflection, or poor rate of speaking.

Academic Achievement

Children with hearing loss have difficulty with all areas of academic achievement, especially reading and mathematical concepts.

Children with mild to moderate hearing losses, on average, achieve one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing, unless appropriate management occurs.

The gap in academic achievement between children with normal hearing and those with hearing loss usually widens as they progress through school.

Teaching Others About Your Hard-of-Hearing Child.

Teaching Others About Your Hard-of-Hearing Child.

This is a great article.  I wish my family took my hearing loss more seriously and acknowledged my differences to teachers and family members but that was not the case.  Maybe it was a sign of the times more than a lack of concern for my well-being or my feelings.  It does make me very happy that the medical professionals, parents, schools and society are becoming more aware and cognizant of children and adults who live with hearing impairments.

Disability Awarness

October is Disability Awareness month.

Although I may look and sound just like all of you, I am somewhat different.  I have been Hard of Hearing (also known as HOH) most of my life.

IMG_0748.1

There are four classifications for hearing loss:

Mild Loss, Moderate, Severe, And Profound (more commonly known as DEAF)

I have lost nearly half of the hearing in my left ear (Moderate loss) and about a third of the hearing in my right (Mild loss).

I also had a speech impediment as a child.  Speech is closely related to hearing.  Babies learn by seeing and hearing.  If a baby cannot hear the sounds, they cannot mimic the sounds.  When one or both of these senses is reduced or eliminated, learning can be more difficult but is not impossible.  Helen Keller is proof of that.

Recent research in the United States indicates that close to 36 million people have a hearing loss – nearly one in ten Americans.  65 percent of people with hearing loss are below retirement age.

In addition, about 1.4 million school-aged children have a hearing loss and there are four major ways in which hearing loss affects children such as:

  1. It causes delay in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills, such as speech and language.
  2. Children with mild to moderate hearing losses, on average, achieve one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing.

“Which sounds, and how much of each sound a person with hearing loss misses, depends on the degree of loss. For the person who still has some hearing and is listening to speech, the missing sounds are often the consonants P, K, F, H, T, and S, and the Sh sounds.”  http://www.hearinglikeme.com/facts/what-hearing-loss/hearing-loss-simulator-understanding-mild-and-moderate-hearing-loss?gclid=CLzamKOyuLoCFWtk7AodcSAA_A

It’s important to understand that not all hard of hearing people are the same in their ability to hear.  Some may hear some voices better than others.  Some sounds may be heard easier than others.

Conversations in quiet places or small rooms are usually better heard than in larger rooms and/or noisy places.

Hearing aids do not provide perfect hearing, they only offer better hearing.

People who are HOH get used to common words, sentences and phrases. We may not hear every word in a sentence exactly. If we hear the sounds that sound like “How are you?” or if we hear part of the sentence or some words, we can fill in the rest of the sentence or question.

People’s names are the same way. If someone new introduces themselves and has a common name that I have heard many, many times, I understand their name. However, if it is someone with an unusual name, one that I have never heard, I may have to ask them to repeat it several times.  Some may think I am being insulting. I have to explain that I am hard of hearing.  If they speak with an accent, it adds more difficulty. Sometimes I may ask someone to write down their name.

Even as adults, training and learning can be a challenge.  We use our sight and sound to learn.  If we cannot hear the training, we can’t learn the work to be performed.

The key to communicating with a hard of hearing person is to be near them and preferably facing them while you are speaking with them in your normal speaking tone.  This is for two reasons.  The vocal sounds are going directly in the direction of the HOH person.  And secondly, seeing facial expressions and mouth movements can be helpful to HOH persons visually interpret and understand conversations better.  Otherwise, you may have to repeat yourself often.

Some facts:  Americans with a disability were initially protected under the The Civil Rights Act, a bill that was called for by President JFK in his civil rights speech in 1963 and later signed into law by President LBJ.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month was declared in 1988 by the United States Congress for October to raise awareness and to recognize the contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities in the workforce.

By 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, a law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability.  Senator Tom Harkins delivered part of his introduction speech in sign language so his deaf brother could understand.

Americans with disabilities are the nation’s LARGEST MINORITY group and one that any “non-disabled” person can enter at any time. Fewer than 15 percent of disabled Americans were born with their disability.

As for the hard of hearing and deaf persons, unlike other disabilities, hearing loss is unseen and often is misinterpreted.  I could share a few stories of my own experiences but that could take an extensive amount of time.  Ultimately, patience and a little compassion go a long way while communicating with people who are hard of hearing.

Growing up HOH

Picture of an infant wearing a hearing aid

Picture of an infant wearing a hearing aid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never talked much about my hearing loss as a child.

My mother was informed of my poor hearing ability when I was at the age of five.  My kindergarten teacher noticed my hearing “problem” within the first marking period of school and alerted my mother.  My teacher believed my poor academic performance was a result of my inability to hear well.  I also had a speech impediment which may have alerted some parents, but as far as I know, this was the first time my mother became aware of my possible hearing loss.

In my mother’s defense, she was a single mom of three at the time.  I’m sure she was very busy.

I did not get properly diagnosed until I was in the second grade, which again was a result of the school suggesting I should be tested by an audiologist.  My mother had remarried by this time.  She and my step father took me to Temple University in Philadelphia to see an audiologist where I was diagnosed with a mild conductive hearing loss in my right ear and a moderate conductive hearing loss in my left.  The doctors were unable to establish if I was born with my hearing loss or if I had lost it at a young age.  They mentioned to my parents that I had naturally learned to read lips.  I had no idea I was doing it.  They said that considering my speech articulation and lip reading (with sound), I most likely became hard of hearing very young.  They asked my parents if I had been around any loud noises or if I had a lot of ear infections, both of which could have contributed to my hearing loss.

I had many ear infections as a child.  I remember crying with pain in the middle of night with little or no sympathy from my family.  I was often accused of overreacting.  A couple times, I got the blow dryer out and put it up to my ear.  I had heard this sometimes helps to soothe the pain.  I would have cut off my ear if I thought this would have relieved the pain.  To this day, of all the pain I have experienced, including a cut that needed five stitches, a broken toe, and giving birth two times, the aching from an ear infection is one of the worst pains I have experienced.

I’ve occasionally wondered if my hearing loss was caused by the many ear infections I had.  I’ve questioned how a parent would not notice their child having a mild or moderate hearing loss.  More importantly, I’ve pondered why a parent would ignore a diagnosis.

The decision was made; I did not need hearing aids.  As a result, life was challenging at times.  “Huh” and “What did you say?” became a part of my everyday conversation.

My siblings loved to make fun of me.  The hearing jokes were endless.  I had people tell me, “Get the wax at of your ears.”  Some accused me of being an airhead and tell me that my “blonde roots” were showing (I am a nature brunette), which I found out later as an adult that many other people like me have been accused of being an airhead too.  I had friends ask me if I was stupid and other times, call me stupid, playfully, because I didn’t get a joke.  I would have a delayed reaction on the punch line.  They assumed it was because I was slow.  It was because I was listening then processing which for me is a two part process.   In my later years, I often heard jokes that attributed my hearing impairment as a sign of aging or getting older.  I just laughed it off in my younger years.  But the one thing the bothered me most was how my family, friends and co-workers commented, ridiculed or hushed me up for talking to loud.  This is the one thing that really pissed me off.

Other than that, I would say I assimilated well to my surroundings with my hearing impairment.  However, at times, I did feel different and disconnected from my environment.  I truly believe that if my parents would have taken my hearing ability or lack thereof more seriously and if I had gotten the assistance that I needed earlier in my childhood development, I would have performed much better in school which would have improved my self-confidence.

I got my first set of hearing aids in my late 40’s.  Amazingly, I adjusted really well.  Previously, noises were muffled sounding.  When I put my hearing aids on, it was like my head opened up.  Think of how it feels being under water; closed and restrictive, right?  Then think of how it feels when you come out of the water.   That’s how wearing hearing aids feels for me.  It’s like I am going from under the water to out of the water; to much louder and clearer sounds.

One of the biggest adjustments was my voice volume.  I could hear my voice loud and clear.  Without realizing it, I began talking in a very low volume, which to me sounded loud when I was wearing my hearing aids.  For the first time in my life, I had people tell me that they couldn’t hear me and asked me to speak up.  I couldn’t believe it.  This felt great!  I began to understand my voice volume by the vibration in my throat.  That way, I could try to monitor my volume when I didn’t have my hearing aids on.

Another way to describe to someone who does not have a hearing impairment is to have one person put their hand over their mouth loosely and talk in a normal tone while the other listens.  Try to carry on a normal conversation for an hour or even longer.  See how well you are able to hear, interpret, and comprehend what the other person is saying.  See if you feel any frustration as a result.  Now imagine being in a large classroom and listening to your teacher sound like this as she verbally gives her lesson or listening to your boss and co-workers discussing important issues in a large meeting room.

Lastly, let me leave you with this.  If you speak to someone and they don’t respond, don’t assume they are being rude and ignoring you or that they are daydreaming.  It may be that they are deaf or hard of hearing.  And if someone asks you to repeat the information, please politely do so (without showing any inconvenience).  The key to communicating with a hard of hearing person is to be near them and preferably facing them while you are speaking to them in your normal speaking tone.  Understand that not all hard of hearing people are the same in their ability to hear.

Many hard of hearing and deaf persons don’t wear their impairment or disability on their sleeve.  Unlike other disabilities, hearing loss is unseen and often is misunderstood.  A little compassion and consideration goes a long way.