I was only four years old when the doctors and audiologists at Boys Town National Research Hospital told my parents some major news: your daughter suffers from hearing loss. I had gone through several tests and examinations that day, and it was confirmed that I have a profound hearing loss in my right ear and a mild hearing loss in my left ear. My most significant challenge in life has been dealing with my hearing loss, specifically in my education. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has shaped me into the person I am today.
My hearing loss didn’t seem like a big deal to me in the early years of my life. I was so young and didn’t know any different. I got along well with other kids and acted like a typical little kid. Even though I was different from other kids, it never felt that way. In fact, other kids thought it was interesting that I couldn’t hear, and always asked me questions about it. Throughout elementary school, I used different devices to help me hear. When I started kindergarten, I used an FM system to help hear the teacher. The teacher would wear a microphone and I had a box on my desk that the amplified sound would come from. As my years in elementary school progressed, technology improved and I was given different devices to help me hear. For example, my teacher in fourth grade wore a small microphone and I wore a small device inside my ear to amplify her speaking. It always took time getting used to a new device, but overall they greatly benefitted me in school.
As the years have went on, I have adjusted to living with hearing loss. From fourth grade to ninth grade I used the same device to help me hear in school. I had little trouble hearing the teacher with the device, but struggled to hear conversations with my peers. When I started tenth grade, I wanted to try something different. My audiologist recommended that I try hearing aids. The past three years I have been using hearing aids to help amplify sound. They don’t work perfectly, which can be frustrating sometimes. I often have to ask people to repeat themselves because I didn’t quite understand what they said. In day to day situations, I have had to make small adjustments to help me hear. I have learned that I need to be facing the person I am talking with, and that background noise has to be limited. In class, taking notes and watching videos can be difficult at times. I can usually hear the teacher or video, but at times have trouble understanding the words they are saying. I always try to sit in the front of the classroom so it is easier to hear and understand. My teachers are very helpful and are willing to make adjustments if needed.
Living with hearing loss has definitely been a challenge, but I’ve learned many valuable lessons. I have learned to be thankful for what I have. I am blessed with the ability to hear fairly well in my left ear, for that I am thankful because I know it could be much worse. Someone out there has hearing struggles far worse than me, and I remind myself of that every day. I’ve also learned that you have to see each challenge you face as an opportunity to grow. Because of the challenges I have faced with hearing, I am more open to other challenges because I know I can work through them. I’ve grown so much as a person because of my hearing loss. Most importantly, being hearing impaired has taught me to embrace what makes you different. In my early years of school, I was hesitant to admit that I was hearing impaired, but as I have matured over the years I have grown to be proud of it. I am one of the few people in my community that has hearing loss, and that is what makes me unique. Everyone in this world has something that is different about them, and rather than be ashamed of it, they should love it and be proud of it.
To sum it up, my hearing loss has been a significant challenge in my life. It has caused me to make adjustments while in school to help me hear. I have faced challenges on a daily basis, but I have learned so much from them. I am blessed to have the support from my family and friends while learning to live with it. It hasn’t been easy, but it has shaped me into the person I am today. I am proud to say I have conquered hearing loss and have not let it stand in the way of my success.