Stories about: hearing loss

Experience Journal: Growing up with hearing loss

baseball_shutterstock v2__109556990In the U.S., roughly two to three out of every 1,000 children are born deaf or hard of hearing. This may launch families into unfamiliar territory as more than 90 percent of parents of deaf and hard of hearing children are not deaf or hard of hearing.

Some parents may have never met a deaf or hard of hearing person. As they begin the journey of raising their child, they may feel unfamiliar with the effects of hearing loss on acquiring language, communicating effectively with others, achieving academically and developing positive self images. There are a number of informed perspectives, resources, interventions, medical treatments and assistive technologies that can help children with hearing loss lead successful and fulfilling lives.


The Hearing Loss Experience Journal, created by the Boston Children’s Hospital Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program and the Department of Psychiatry, includes stories and experiences from children, young adults and families and represents the collective wisdom of families living with pediatric hearing loss. Here are some of their stories about growing up with hearing loss, using hearing aids and cochlear implants and more, in their own words.

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Massachusetts requires insurance companies to cover hearing aids for children

Paul and Nathan were born with hearing loss

Naturally, Lisa Adams was worried when she found out her twin infant sons, Nathan and Paul, were born with moderate hearing loss. She became even more concerned when her children’s audiologist, Amal Awdeh, AuD, explained how poor hearing during such a critical time in development could severely impact their budding language skills.

But Adams was quickly comforted when Awdeh explained how far hearing aid technology had come in recent years—with the right equipment, medical and educational teams supporting them—the twins’ speech would most likely develop just fine.

Paul and Nathan were fitted with hearing aids on loan from Boston Children’s Hospital, a practice that allows doctors to find the perfect match of hearing aid to patient before anything permanent is obtained and fitted.

(Click here to support the Caroline Bass Fund at Boston Children’s, which helps fund our loaner hearing aid project. Please write Caroline Bass Fund in the ‘designation’ section.)


As toddlers the twins had loaner hearing aids

After a year Paul and Nathan’s growth was consistent, and doctors were pleased with the progress they were making with the loaner aids, so Adams took her sons to be fitted for their own hearing aids. The visit went well, right up until it was time to process payment.

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Listen up: The high volume of hearing loss

Kids and teens regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are almost twice as likely to develop hearing loss than children who aren’t usually around it, according to a recent study by the Archives of Otolaryngology. And if something as seemingly unrelated as second-hand smoke contributes to hearing loss in kids, what else can erode a child’s hearing?

Brian Fligor, ScD, director of Diagnostic Audiology at Children’s Hospital Boston, says everyday things that seem harmless are actually degrading our hearing without us realizing it. “Unfortunately, hearing loss is something that affects a lot of people, but it’s also something we can’t see,” he says. “It’s kind of a sinister thing.”

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1 out of 5 American teens have suffered hearing loss

headphonesAny parent could tell you that teenagers aren’t usually the world’s best listeners. But according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for as many as 1 out of 5 American teenagers, poor listening skills may have as much to do with hearing loss as it does with attitude. New research shows 6.5 million teenagers demonstrate signs of hearing damage; a 30 percent increase from the number of hearing loss cases reported by teenagers in the early 1990s. The increased use of personal mp3 players like ipods, and louder, more advanced in-ear head phones is a suspected culprit, but more research is still needed.

Lindsey Claus, a 16-year-old musician from Mansfield who plays both the French horn and piano, says she first noticed her hearing loss about three years ago. She researched doctors online and then made an appointment with Children’s Hospital Boston’s Brian Fligor, ScD, director of Diagnostic Audiology, to protect her slightly damaged hearing and ensure her future as a musician. CBS Evening News recently ran an interview with Fligor and Claus, and reported on teenage hearing loss and its treatment at Children’s.

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