Ashlee Rose:Tell us about yourself?
Jennifer: My name is Jennifer and I fulfill many roles in my life: I’m a mother to three wonderful little boys, I’m married to an amazing man who also happens to be serving in the military, I’m also a part-time employee and student. Never a dull moment in our house!
Ashlee Rose:How old was Nathan when he was diagnosed with a hearing loss?
Jennifer: Nathan was 22 months old when he was diagnosed with hearing loss. He received his first set of hearing aids when he was 23 months old.
Ashlee Rose:What kind of hearing loss? What hearing aids does he have?
Jennifer:He has moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. He wears Phonak Sky V hearing aids.
Ashlee Rose:As a parent, what is it like to raise a son with a hearing loss? What was it like when you first found out and where are you at now?
Jennifer:Finding out that Nate has hearing loss was very unexpected, to say the least. No one on either mine nor my husband’s family has hearing loss. We had some suspicions when he was a baby; sometimes he would respond to sounds, and other times he wouldn’t. When we found out that he needed hearing aids, and will for the rest of his life, we didn’t know what to expect. Would he be able to speak? Would he/we have to learn sign language? What kind of life would he have? We had no idea how to navigate this new journey we were now on.
It has been 6 years since he was diagnosed, and the amount of progress he has made just absolutely blows us away! We were lucky and blessed enough to get him enrolled in an amazing school that taught him listening and spoken language. I have had many people tell me that if they didn’t see his hearing aids, they would never know that he has hearing loss. He amazes us everyday with his conversations and understanding. Everyone who has met him knows what a sweet and kind amazing little boy he is, and we couldn’t agree more!
Ashlee Rose:Now he is being mainstreamed at school, do you face challenges like fighting for his rights to accommodate his needs at school?
Jennifer:His mainstream school has been very supportive when it comes to accommodating his needs. He has had 2 amazing teachers of the deaf, wonderful speech therapists, and another awesome teacher! They have all been so supportive of Nate, and they help make sure he gets what he needs.
Ashlee Rose:Does he play sports? Do you do anything to prevent sweat from his hearing aids? Do you guys notify referee at games about his hearing loss?
Jennifer:He loves to play sports! He has played soccer and basketball so far. We have used a product called sweat bands to help the sweat from getting in his hearing aids. We haven’t needed to notify the referees at games, but we do let his coaches know about his hearing loss. We use an FM system at home, and we use it at all of his games. It helps tremendously!
Ashlee Rose:How does he advocate himself at school or respond to his peers’ questions about his hearing loss?
Jennifer:When he gets asked about his hearing aids, he just tells them, “They’re my hearing aids!” He is so cavalier about it that the other kids just go with it. Since he uses an FM system at school, he is in charge of making sure it is connected properly, and is working the way it should be. He also changes his own batteries so he has to communicate to his teacher when he has to do that.
Ashlee Rose:What does he like to do? What would he like to be when he grows up?
Jennifer:He loves to play with his little brothers. He also loves to play on the computer. His favorite games are Minecraft (he can talk about Minecraft for hours!), Fortnite, and Roblox. He also enjoys watching DanTDM videos on YouTube about all the games he likes to play. Every year I ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, and so far it’s been the same each time: he wants to be like his daddy!
Ashlee Rose:Do you have any advices to other parents who are in the same boat as you? A favorite quote to help others to feel inspired throughout their journeys?
Jennifer:My advice to other parents is don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether it be to healthcare professionals, school representatives, or other parents who are on a similar journey. And don’t forget: YOU know your child the best. You are his/her best advocate. You got this!
Ashlee Rose: Tell us about yourself
Bella:My name is Bella and I’m a curly hair enthusiast. I’m a mom and wife. I was born in Puerto Rico, raised in New Jersey and currently call Florida my home. I enjoy blogging about hair, makeup, and skincare. Some of my hobbies are singing karaoke and going on bike rides. I love spending time with my husband and children.
Ashlee Rose:How old were you when diagnosed with a hearing loss?
Bella:I was in my 30’s when I was diagnosed with hearing loss. At the time, I was residing in New Jersey and I noticed that my hearing seemed to be getting worse (I struggled with it for as long as I can remember). My hearing loss was interfering with my interaction with others at work. I made an appointment to see an audiologist and the audiologist confirmed that I in fact was suffering from hearing loss. At that time, I did not get hearing aids. I figured that if I had gone most of my life struggling to hear that I could continue to do it. However, it wasn’t that simple. I work in a “hearing” environment and certain things are expected of me. I had to make a decision. So, about 3-4 years ago, after I had moved to Florida and began a new job, I made another appointment with an audiologist. My diagnosis was the same and they urged me to get hearing aids; they felt that it would help me at work & just with social interaction. It can be very stressful to not hear when you are in a large conference room, sitting in the back, trying to hear the speaker in the front of the room when others can hear a pin drop. It was also affecting my health, to the point of being in tears due to stress because I didn’t want my work to suffer. Eventually the stress got worse and I developed a heart condition. Although it is possible that my heart condition was always present but never fully developed, the stress definitely made it worse.
Ashlee Rose: What kind of hearing loss do you have? Was the cause discovered?
Bella: I have bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. The cause was not discovered. It is believed to be genetic. My mother was diagnosed with hearing loss recently and my nephew has cochlear implants.
Ashlee Rose: What kind of hearing aids do you have?
Bella: I have two AGX hearing aids.
Ashlee Rose: Do you use ASL or oral approach?
Bella:I use the oral approach, but I would like to learn ASL.
Ashlee Rose:When you are at work, do you have accommodations or communicating tips with others in a work environment?
Bella:I have a phone amplifier for my desk phone. My coworkers know that I am deaf and they are very considerate. Before they knew about it, they thought that I was ignoring them. It wasn’t until I told them that it all made sense to them.
Ashlee Rose: You created @HearForTheCurls Instagram account, what inspired you to do it?
Bella: I created @HearForTheCurls because I felt as though I had much to share about my experiences. I wanted to reach out to the curly community, but also reach out to anyone who is D/deaf. As I began to reflect on my entire life, I noticed that I struggled with my hearing for as long as I could remember. Because of that, I felt that creating a platform where I could share some of my challenges and how I overcame them was extremely important. I didn’t wake up deaf; I’ve been deaf, even prior to my diagnosis. I still have “aha” moments when I think back about things that happened related to my hearing loss and how they make more sense now. Since creating HFTC, I’ve had people send me private messages telling me how they believe they also have hearing loss or they know someone who has hearing loss. Sometimes people forget that there is an entire population somewhere between Deaf and Hearing. I am not completely Deaf. I’m somewhere in the middle, if that makes sense. I think that I can bring both worlds together to help people be more compassionate and understanding. Being deaf is not a handicap to me. It’s just part of who I am. (Just FYI, Deaf pertains to those who are part of deaf culture, who mostly rely on sign language to communicate. The word deaf, with a lowercase “d”, pertains to those who have hearing loss who are not necessarily heavily involved in deaf culture, but are more part of the hearing world).
Ashlee Rose: What story would you like to share with us D/deaf individuals and parents of D/deaf and hard of hearing children about your hearing loss?
Bella:I had a coworker who didn’t know that I was deaf. She was under the impression that I did not like her because she would say “good morning” to me (obviously too low for me to hear) and I wouldn’t reply back. She approached another coworker and told her “I don’t think Bella likes me. I say ‘Good Morning’ and she doesn’t reply.”The coworker who knew about my hearing loss said “No, it’s not that. Bella is deaf. You have to speak a little louder and clearer so she can hear you.” Sometimes people are simply uninformed and they base their decisions on what they experience or on what they see. It’s okay to meet people half way, inform them of your situation, ask them to speak up (but not shout).
Ashlee Rose: Do you have any advice do you have for parents of deaf and hard of children and other deaf individuals? A favorite quote you would like to share?
Bella:My advice is to let your family and friends know what you feel and what bothers you, even if it annoys them. It’s not easy to live in a household where everyone else hears fine. Very loud noises bother me and I cannot comprehend whispers. I have to constantly remind people of this and sometimes they don’t get it and that’s okay. I can’t expect someone else to understand what I’m living with. I can only try to help them understand & be the best version of myself that I can be. In the end, my test is my testimony and they will learn through.
If I had to choose a favorite quote, I would choose the following:
“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”
Hearing Impaired single mother and teacher aide at a hearing impaired oral preschool program. An author of "Turn The Lights On, I Cant Hear You".