My hearing impairment has had a big impact on my education. I ended up getting my hearing loss from medicine I received when I was a newborn with a fatal congenital defect. I had previous hearing tests done, but the audiologist never went past 1500 in the frequency scale. It wasn’t until the end of first grade that we found out I in fact had a hearing loss when I got tested with the whole spectrum up to 8000. It all started when I couldn’t hear people very well in first grade;therefore, I taught myself how to read lips. I would always go up to the teachers and other students and watch their mouths so I could know what they were saying. The teachers, however, never understood why I was doing this, and they would always get upset with me when I would get out of my seat to go watch their mouths while they were instructing the class. It also never helped that whenever I told them I couldn’t hear, they never believed me. Whenever anyone would talk to me, I would never hear them, and I would always ask “What? What? What?” This too annoyed everyone who had to repeat what they were saying to me and people would start to ignore me or not help me.

My hearing consultant came in to school one day and watched me go up to the teachers while they were talking. When the teachers told me to go sit down, my hearing consultant stopped them, telling them that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and that I wasn’t trying to not follow directions but in fact trying to hear and/or read others’ lips so I could comprehend what was going on. That summer, I got hearing aids, and it seemed to help, but I still struggled in school being able to communicate with and comprehend others. It also hurt me socially, because being that I would always ask people to repeat themselves, they would get frustrated with me and eventually just ignore me completely.

With my hearing loss, I have had to work extra hard in school in order to maintain my high achievement in academics. Throughout all these years and with a lot of determination and motivation to try my best, I have achieved honor roll status, a current 3.8 GPA, and I have also become my community school’s very first HOSA, (Health Occupations Students of America), National Champion in this medical competition organization.

Though I still had a hard time hearing even with my hearing aids, it got really rough in the beginning of 11thgrade.  That was when my old hearing aids weren’t working so well anymore. I ended up getting new ones, which actually made matters worse. They were very difficult to program and they kept making a consistent squeaky sound that made it very difficult to concentrate on my homework. My hearing aid consultant had to come back every couple of days to try to fix it, but still, we were getting nowhere and the noise kept coming back. I was using a Roger Pen at the time, so it was thought that maybe it was the little connector pieces  that snapped onto the hearing aids was making the noise while it was transmitting sound from the Roger Pen. However,  that wasn’t the case, as even without those on the hearing aids, the noise would still come back. After multiple tries, we finally got the noise to go away, although that meant really altering with the program that my hearing aids were turned down a lot lower than they should be. We ended up trying to use an ICom to wear that would transmit sound from the Pen up to my hearing aids.However, that created a new problem. The connection on it was bad, so the sound would crackle and then cut out completely, so I couldn’t hear anything my teacher was saying. With no other options left, I had to continue on with school using only my hearing aids in which I was functioning in the mild hearing loss range with these aids and the programming  was at the highest level.  This showed that my hearing aids currently are not working for me as well as they should be and it can really affect my ability to perform at my fullest potential at school.

Given my disability/medical health challenges, I have also developed a compassion for those with special needs. I enjoying helping others and feel a sense of pride in helping them to feel accepted and respected. I will always cherish my time spent with these brave individuals and will continue to take pride in those with special needs as others have done for me.

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