Jul 29 2008

My hearing loss story

Published by at 11:38 am under Hearing Loss

During the year of 1973, my parents and sister had taken a trip to Milwaukee and visited Wisconsin Dells.  There was a place called Story Book Land with several nursery book characters like Humpty Dumpty, Snow White, and so on.  Some of the characters roamed around the park, similar to Disney World.  One of the characters, An angel, came and asked my sister, Sheila, for a wish.  She wished to have a brother, and the angel granted her wish (me!).  So, my parents decided to bring another child in the family.  That was when I was born on 1974 in Quincy, Illinois.

I came into this world about 3 weeks ahead of schedule.  Even though I was very small and premature, they did not have to put me in an incubator.  During the first 2 years, my parents didn’t have any idea about my hearing loss.  Everything seemed normal.  At 2 years of age, I wasn’t talking clearly and my parents didn’t understand the words I was saying.  I was very active and I would sometimes talk too much.  They started to get a little concerned even though people were saying some boys are slow and shouldn’t they worry too much.  Even so, my parents decided to take me to Children’s Hospital to find out whether the doctors can give any answers.  After testing me for several hours, they said there was nothing wrong and I was just a little hyper active.

My parents decided to send me to elementary school which had a program for very young children with development needs.  It was like a day care program, but with more emphasis on developing the skills for a toddler.  The teachers adored me since I was so cute (It’s true!).  I was very anxious everyday going to school and started to learn more words.  Again, my parents did not understand clearly.  For example, I used to say “Uppa” and I was trying to say School Bus (S and L have high frequency components that I was not able to hear completely).  I often said “Eyya” and they figured out I was trying to say Sheila, my sister’s name.

The next year, my family and I went to India.  My uncle (mom’s side of the family) found a good ENT specialist.  They took me to the doctor to make sure there was nothing wrong with my ears.  The doctor talked with me for about one half hour, asking me some questions and observing me.  He was pretty sure I had some sort of hearing loss and recommended that I see an audiologist when I returned to USA.

The audiologist determined I had mild to moderate hearing loss.  I was not able to hear the high frequency components of the words, but I could hear the low frequency very well. They found out my hearing can be easily corrected by wearing hearing aids and getting special training.

Fortunately, Lowell Elementary School in Waukesha had a special program for deaf and hard of hearing children.  They enrolled me in the program right away.  I lost the first four years of childhood without hearing all the words and the experience.  So, I had to catch up a lot.  The teachers were excellent.  It was very hard during the first several years having special training and speech therapy.  I had to wear a box with a transmitter and receiver so that the teachers could communicate with me easily.  My parents were heart broken to see me wear a hearing aid box and walk around the school.  I’ve been told it didn’t bother me, and I was simply very happy to hear well and understood everything.

By the time I graduated from Elementary school, the teachers integrated me with regular students.  I didn’t need any additional special training.  For me, it took more work than others to study and get good grades. 

That concludes my journey to the discovery of my hearing loss.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “My hearing loss story”

  1. Elizabethon 31 Jul 2008 at 12:06 am

    This is a great blog! I hope you’ll consider adding it to the aggregator at Deaf Village (www.deafvillage.com) — we’d love to have you as part of our community!

  2. Yanaon 15 Sep 2008 at 8:43 am

    Hi, Senthil!

    I am happy to see your blog! There is always a shortage of information on the hard of hearing experience . We somehow get swept with the deaf and people think these are the same things.

    I have a cochlear implant, and I blog about it and about my hearing loss at myciandi.wordpress.com. I try to concentrate on accessibility and employment, as I find there is NEXT TO NO INFORMATION on the internet on these issues for hard of hearing people.

    Good luck blogging!

  3. David Willison 05 Aug 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Great to read someone had a similar childhood like myself. Except my family was totally disfunctional and abusive!
    Anyway, I am happy to be a part of your website. Have lots to talk about but don’t wanna bore you with it.
    Now I must get back to my comic book reading.
    See you in the chatroom tonight!

  4. Julie Olsonon 27 Jan 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Senthil,

    I’ve heard much about you and look forward to meeting you soon; most likely at the Walk4Hearing. Your experience is so like that of many people I’ve met through my involvement in SHHH/HLAA. The variables are considerable, but the experiences are very much the same in the long run.

    My hearing loss was diagnosed when I was in college, although it’s obvious to me now that it was there when I was in high school. I missed things that I depended on friends to fill in for me a lot; like assignments that were given orally. I was on the phone every night asking a friend what the assignments were in those classes. I did well in school, but was often told that if I paid closer attention I would be an even better student. All the time I was paying attention, but some of it was not getting through to me.

    I was diagnosed with a bilateral, sensorineural hearing loss by medical professionals at a major clinic in the midwest. At the time, I was told that hearing aids would not help me, and that I should adjust to the reality that I would be deaf by the time I was 40. At age 20, that seemed lightyears away so I didn’t even think about it until I started having real trouble on my job.

    I graduated and began a career in teaching at the high school level, that was cut short due to my frustrations with my increasing loss of hearing. As you know…I could hear people talking, but had difficulty understanding them. This became difficult and embarrassing for me and I had no clue how to handle it. I finally decided to try hearing aids, and found they helped quite a bit. But as time passed, they did less and less for me due to the progressive nature of my hearing loss.

    In the mid 80’s, I learned about Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH), and signed on to an organization that has changed and enriched my life. What I needed most was support from people who understood what I was going through, and who also taught me how to tell others to help me. That organization is now The Hearing Loss Assn. of America (HLAA). HLAA continues to promote ‘self help’ through support groups, but also advocates, educates and provides information to people who are living with hearing loss.

    The bonus of involvement in SHHH/HLAA has been in meeting wonderful people who are hard of hearing from all over the country and from several other countries. It’s refreshing to be able to talk about hearing loss with others who live it, and who have learned to live WELL with it. Perhaps the most important bonus is the joy one can achieve by reaching out to share information with others.

    By learning about technology that works; the add ons to hearing instruments in particular (FM systems, loops, infrared, direct audio input, etc) , I was able to go back to teaching, to graduate school, and to a social life I once felt I had lost. Simply being able to share information on ‘how to communicate effectively with me has been huge, because I did not know how to do that until I became educated about hearing loss.

    Four years ago I received a cochlear implant. The CI, coupled with a hearing aid in the opposite ear, has brought my audiological tests from the 15th percentile to the 95th percentile in comprehension in what I call ‘controlled noise’. I still have some problems hearing in a noisy restaurant or other place where reverberation is a big problem….but I’ve learned where to sit, how to converse, and still use assistive device add ons when necessary. I feel blessed to have been able to take advantage of such amazing technology, along with the personal support of many wonderful people.

    Again, I look forward to meeting you, and many others at the Walk4Hearing in May, and also at the National HLAA convention in Milwaukee in June.

    Julie Olson

  5. Kateon 02 May 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Julie, I am taking an Aural Rehab class now, and was curious how old you were when you received your chochliar implant, since I have learned that it is more difficult for older individuals to adapt to cochlear implants, and what was the experience like for you?

    Thanx, Kate

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