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Hear for You blog

Hearing Heroes

Posted by Carrie Spangler on February 21, 2014 12:02 AM

Carrie Spangler

I am honored to be asked to write the first blog post for the Audio-Logic blog.  As I was thinking of an appropriate topic, my mind went directly to Karen, the owner and founder of SoundIntuition and how I met this wonderful person.

I met Karen for the first time she was a graduate student in audiology, and it was life changing for me!  This life changing event is supported by the Supplement to the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing 2007 Position Statement:  Principles and Guidelines for Early Intervention Goal 11 which supports that all children who are deaf/hard of hearing and their families have access to support, mentorship, and guidance from individuals who are deaf/hard of hearing.

Growing up as the only person in my family and my mainstream school with hearing loss posed a challenge at times.  I know that my parents felt alone in the journey, not having any support or what to expect.  I know that I felt that life was not fair that I had to wear hearing aids when seemingly everyone else in the world had nothing in their ears!

Then I met Karen.  I will never forget that day when I was in high school attending an appointment for an annual audiological assessment and she introduced herself as a graduate student in audiology.  She went on to explain that she had a hearing loss like me and wore hearing aids (now she wears cochlear implants) and uses a personal FM system.  I remember thinking….”Incredible!  This beautiful young adult studying to be an audiologist, AND wears hearing aids just like me!”.  This day was a pivot point for me.  I realized that I could be at peace with my hearing loss and make a choice to change my attitude about hearing loss.  I realized that hearing loss was a positive asset and would be one of the greatest gifts that I could have.

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) Goal 11 states that “families who have many contacts with adults who are D/HH exhibit a strong sense of competence with regard to raising their child who is D/HH”.  Audio-Logic “ally” speaking, I would expand to say that children and teens that have contacts with mentors who have hearing loss exhibit a strong sense of competence with regard to themselves.

I am thankful that Karen and I share audiology as a career path, which has allowed us to reconnect both personally and professionally.  However, there was a long period between the first time I met Karen and the next.  With that being said; this ONE meeting can leave a positive imprint on individual with hearing loss, especially a tween or teen-ager that may be dealing with self image and fitting in.

As a professional working with individuals with hearing loss or a parent who has a child with hearing loss….what can you do?  You could make the “pivot point” happen for that important tween or teen.   When I began my first year working as an educational audiologist for Stark County Educational Service Center (Canton, Ohio USA) I made the decision that I wanted to be able to offer this “pivot point” for students with hearing loss in the mainstream.  I had vision that every student that I worked with should have the opportunity to meet another student with hearing loss before graduating.  I began to share my vision with colleagues and the idea of a support group called Hit It! (Hearing Impaired Teens Interacting Together) was born.  When I had this vision in my head, it was no longer the question of “should I do this?” it became “how can I do this?.  When you ask “how?” ideas start developing and action begin to take place.  Our first Hit It! meeting took place in 1999 and has been going strong since.  We have been connecting students with hearing loss, hoping to move their “pivot point” positively.

Starting a support group seem overwhelming?  I know how you feel!  I am now in a new position at The University of Akron and starting over.  To get started, I reflect back on the “pivot point” of meeting Karen for the first time in my own life and realize that I want to positively influence the lives of teens with hearing loss wherever I am.  I am now asking “how?” and talking to colleagues.  As professionals working with children with hearing loss, we have tremendous influence and connections.  Still overwhelmed?   Think about starting small and connecting families and children with hearing loss for a 2 hour event.  Or strategically schedule patients and families back to back that you think would benefit from meeting. Creatively act and you will be rewarded knowing that you have made a difference!

As I wrap up this blog entry, I encourage every professional and parent to CONNECT children with hearing loss with others who can be a positive “Hearing Loss Hero” in their life.

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