And now for the long answer. I’m also a mom of two boys, one of whom struggles with fluctuating hearing loss, and I also happen to have an auditory processing disorder myself. So let’s rewind a bit and give you a little history.
I have never been a good note taker. It was always mind-boggling to look down at my paper and see nothing but a scribbled mess. I spent so many years frustrated and angry with myself because I couldn’t take notes like all the other kids around me. I could write down the first part of the sentence, but not be able to recall all of the information that was presented to get the second, third or fourth part. And remembering oral directions? Forget it! You’d lose me at the second step, and I’d be left to piece together the rest; sometimes guessing right and very often guessing wrong. In school it was all about learning new information, with most of it occurring auditorily, and I was NOT keeping up with my classmates. With my hearing in the normal range (audiometrically), I was left with a sinking feeling that there was something else very “wrong” with me, but not knowing what, or more importantly, how to “fix it”.
It was not until I was in college that I finally decided to figure out why I struggled. It was then that I was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder. This means that my ears hear normally, but the message gets “mixed up” when my brain tries to understand the information that it receives from my ears. Each and every day, I have to consciously choose to not let it stand in my way. Each day, I have to find ways to comprehend and recall new information presented to me, and over the years I have learned to adapt. I typically do so by diligently asking others to repeat what they have said, utilizing note takers, asking for notes to be printed during a conference or presentation and recording orally presented information so I can review it at my own pace later. What seems effortless to others is a true struggle for me.
Having children started a new and wonderful chapter to my story. Raising two young boys can be a challenge in and of itself, but watching one of them battle constant ear infections and fluctuating hearing loss brought a new level of stress to the party. My youngest son spent a good year and a half of his life with a moderate hearing loss from middle ear fluid that would not go away. I watched his language development fall behind. I did the drops, the middle of the night screaming, the drops again, the antibiotics, the tubes, and the worrying about how and when he would ever get over this. And though he’s made great gains and has come out of the chronic ear infection cycle, I worry that all of that time spent with a 50 dB HL hearing loss has left him with a lot of catching up to do in his auditory brain development.
As a person with an auditory processing disorder, as a mother and as an audiologist, I have lived this hearing loss journey. I know the importance of accessing auditory information as well as the importance of compensating for not being able to hear or process that information. Most of our days are spent engaging in some form of conversation and listening. When we don’t hear all that is said, we miss out on learning as well as the oh-so-important social conversations that weave us together with friends and family. When learning is impacted, it results in falling behind academically. When social communication is affected, it results in feelings of disconnectedness, isolation and the sensation of being an “other” or being on the “outside”. I decided long ago that this is unacceptable; for myself, my son and for all of the children that I work with.
Seeing first-hand, in my own home, the complexity of our auditory system and its impact on our daily lives has bolstered my commitment to helping others who are walking this same path.
My continued goal is to provide information and resources to Ed Auds & D/HH Teachers to help their students be the best version of themselves in school and in their social circle, both now and into the future. It is my honor to help strengthen and inspire children. We all have struggles; we are all unique, we are all different--it’s what makes us who we are. Challenges occur each and every day for all of us. It’s how we choose to conquer them that matters!