Holiday Gift of Sounds

I have bilateral hearing once again, after nearly a year of almost total silence on the left ear. I have been wearing my Phonak Naida hearing aid again on the left ear, since early December and my Neptune on the right side. I have noticed that my hearing aid picks up so much less than my Neptune it isn’t funny. After three weeks I am still acclimatizing and I don’t think I like the difference.

Christmas preparations and celebrations revealed the difference quite strongly… The Neptune picked up a wide variety of sounds more clearly than my hearing aid did.. like:

– Crinkle of wrapping paper
– Crackle of the fire
– Whirring of ceiling fan blades (we have these on to push heat down)
– Christmas Carols sounded fuller and richer
– Sitting in the back of the van, heard more from the right speaker, than the left speaker I was sitting beside while radio played.
– Sizzle of the turkey roasting in the roaster oven
– Cracking of ice on the deck as the hubby walked on it, attempting to break it. (Heard through closed patio doors)
– Sizzling of butter in the pan as pancakes, grilled cheese, and eggs were made, as well as the bacon
– Sounds of static electricity as I touched someone as the house was too dry
– Bubbling of water heating up and sizzling on the metal as it was poured into the wood stove humidifier
– The sounds of the husband chipping ice off my van and his truck after the ice storm, was heard up in our bedroom.
– The snow blower sounded louder and more noticeable from further away in the house.
– Various beeping alerts of appliances and timers used through the house, heard over the television in our family room.
– The voices of my husband and children sound so different on each side of my head that I couldn’t tell which was the true sound of their voices. Or which side I preferred more. My youngest seemed so squeaky at times.
– The sounds of the violin as my daughter learns to play is so much better with the Neptune, that I can tell when she is off or out of tune.

Richer were the sounds of my kids joy and laughter, particularly the youngest child, at 2.5 almost, who finally discovered the joy of ripping wrapping paper off and exclaiming “wow” with each gift. And asking Daddy to open each one so he could play with it, and incredibly he was so patient and watched so patiently and yet jumped excitedly at times.

Every day I notice new things, and have been so grateful for the changes the C.I. brought me. Hearing my son talk, and noticing the changes in his speech and vocabulary, and even comprehending him without lip reading has been the best part of getting the C.I. I know I am getting so much more than I did with his brother and sister at this age, and I cannot fathom how I managed at all. Toddlers are a force to be reckoned with, and such a delight at this age, as they grow, change, and learn so rapidly. To be able to enjoy it so fully and better than I can with the hearing aid, is a blessing.

As I enter the New Year tonight, I can only hope that 2014 brings me clarity of speech, better speech comprehension and a full benefit from the AVT study I am participating in, and richer life of sounds as my children grow and change. I hope for improved relationships with my husband, children, family and friends. With luck, I will also embark on a new job sometime in 2014, and also grow more in that arena.

I will continue to write, and share my thoughts and experiences as I have the past year and half, and more in the last two months. Please continue to follow me and share the posts that are meaningful to you.

Happy New Year to all of my readers, and may 2014 bring everything you hope for.




Emergencies…and the Deaf

There has been a few things on my mind regarding the Deaf and Emergency Service professionals. How do the paramedics, police, and firefighters handle communicating with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing? Are they trained in identifying this area of the community. In knowing when an interpreter is needed, in knowing when to take appropriate actions? I have paramedic friends who admit they have no training, and in fact their only knowledge or experience is their friendship with me. I would venture the same would be true of other friends I have in the police force, and in the fire department. This concerns me greatly.

Today there was a massive fire in my city. So massive it made national news, and even the news in NYC. I wonder if in the people that were evacuated if there were any Deaf or HOH people? If so, how were they told of the need to evacuate and where, and how to contact their families, and when, if at all tonight, they might be able to return to their homes.

I have also read news articles, of bad situations between the police and the Deaf. For example, , or Which could have been avoided with proper education and training of police officials. Simply googling this topic on Google brings up links to stories that are distressing.

A link regarding this topic for paramedics, is hopeful, but I feel strongly more needs to be done. As a Deaf person, and now with an implant, I need to identify myself to medical professionals as a C.I. person. I know Medic Alert bracelets will do that, but I do not have one yet. So how do I get appropriate treatment if I was unable to speak for myself in an emergency and my husband or family are not there?

Regardless of whatever methods there are identifying ourselves to emergency personnel, the training still needs to be there, the knowledge needs to be given, and sensitivity training as well. Is this a widespread issue, or just a few local areas? Are those stories just a few, or just the tip of the iceberg illustrating those issues? It scares me to think of myself as possibly ever being in a vulnerable position with the very people meant to help me.

Then there are the times when we need help. How do we contact them? Through a telephone relay service? Or is that becoming obsolete with the advance of smartphones and social media. When I was 24, I needed paramedics, and my ex hubby at the time called through the relay service for one. I was in another room in pain, with a rupturing ovarian cyst, alone, and he was on the TTY typing furiously to the operator who was talking to 911 or the hospital, I don’t know which. I can only say the call took far too long to complete, and he was running back and forth to check on me to answer questions. I remember the look of fear on his face, and the attempts to talk to the paramedics. I had hearing aids then, and was able to talk to them. But what if I was using ASL, or he was? What if I had blacked out from the pain? Looking back, I’m even more concerned about the Deaf community. We are largely invisible, unseen, unheard of, not talked about, particularly in the sectors where it MUST happen. Not just in emergency services, but hospitals, community events, in fact everywhere.

Something needs to be done, and why hasn’t it? I’d like to explore this topic further, and have not a clue how to do so.

Adding a link to my Communication Strategies post.

Today is my Birthday

I am (?) years old. No, I will not tell you.

I have lived long enough to experience all the different technologies, and changes for the Deaf and to be grateful for today’s technology.

Take another look at some of my earlier posts, from. March 2012.


About Me:

And some recent posts that have garnered lots of views.

Navigating the Dating Scene

Irregardless of gender, age, ability, disability, race, social situation, dating is fraught with well…everything imaginable. Insecurities about how we look, how our interests mesh, and our religious beliefs or lack thereof, money and then never mind the family and friends. When you’re a “normal, able bodied person”, it’s complicated enough; but throw in a disability, and up ramps the complication factor.

I’ve had relationships a Deaf man, and an amputee, but mainly with hearing men. When you have a disability yourself, or the person you are dating has one, a variety of issues come up. When it’s a physical disability, you are limited by what can be done physically. If you hike, one certainly cannot hike up a mountain with someone in a wheelchair. It’s very important to find commonalities and enough common interests to maintain a relationship. So regardless of whether one or both partners has a disability, commonalities, and communication are key to success in any relationship or marriage. When one person or both is Deaf, the communication side of things becomes fraught with misconceptions, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. However, there can be, and are, humorous moments, which if both people are understanding and sensitive to the other can certainly liven up a relationship.

For me, dating another Deaf man, who was totally Deaf, but lipread (that skill was not very strong), and spoke, it created some challenges. Most of the challenges came from communication, and how we communicated with the other, and viewed each other’s communication skills. Although he was well aware I was profoundly Deaf, and relied on lip reading, he saw me in a way as hearing. Simply because I functioned that way in nearly all aspects of my life. He also didn’t fully realize that not only was I responsible for my communication needs, I ended up being responsible for his, ensuring he understood me. I didn’t always have the time, or patience to ensure he understood me, so consequently, miscommunication occurred frequently. Neither of us dealt with the other’s communication needs well. I am sure you’re thinking “but, why not? Wouldn’t both of you being deaf make you more patient, understanding, and accommodating?”. Maybe it should have, and maybe it did, for some; however, for us, we couldn’t, because our philosophies on handling our own communication needs were different. Everyone has different philosophies on dating, communication, handling the other’s needs or disabilities. Talking about them, and meshing those things together is crucial in any relationship; because even if you are very different from each other, it takes effort to create a lasting relationship.

Ok, so what about dating a hearing person? As literally everyone I dated had been hearing, one would think I had been able to have good communication with the men I dated over the years. Not necessarily. As a teen I was an introvert when I was out one on one with a boy, but a little bit of an extrovert in a group setting. In effect, I had two personas, that confused the hell out of the boys I dated, and consequently I simply became friends with most of the boys in my class. I could barely handle a conversation if we were alone, and yet, if we were with a group of friends, I chatted along with every one else. This is perhaps normal behaviour for a teen, as there is always safety in numbers. Communication didn’t seem as important as it would in adulthood. Yet I had moments, where I misunderstood the guys I dated, and of course my friends. Strangely though, as teens, we tend in some ways be more accommodating, understanding, and willing to help someone with a disability. I was certainly lucky that while I only had a handful of boyfriends, that they took the time to ensure I understood them, and was aware of what was going on.

As an adult, we become saddled with responsibilities, weightier thoughts, work, and fatigue. Therefore, because of those things, communication becomes less important, because the expectation is that everyone understands the other. This is the biggest fallacy in any relationship, as communication gets lost in the grand scheme of things.

Communication is important. Effective communication is the key to any relationship succeeding. We as adults have less patience, and I have found that it hugely impacts my ability to have good communication with my partner. My adult dating life was nerve-wracking, particularly after my ex husband and I separated. Although there were text messages, emails, instant messaging, and Skype, I found that they still wanted to use the phone. The phone for me was difficult by this time, as I was already experiencing comprehension difficulties, and of course, it led to misunderstandings. I questioned when and where I was to meet someone, so texting to confirm had me nerve-wracked. Also, telling potential dates I was Deaf and what that entailed was terrifying as I did not know whether to admit it upfront, or upon meeting, or whether it would scare them off. More often than not, I found it scared them off, or they took advantage of it to do things like talk to another woman thinking I wouldn’t realize what was happening.

Needless to say, my sense of self took a beating, and my confidence in who I was as a person, my abilities, and even my attractiveness plummeted. I had friends, male and female virtually berate me for allowing myself to feel undesirable. In all honesty, were it not for those boys I’d become friends with and dated in high school, that I was in touch with on Facebook, I wouldn’t have persisted in dating, and taking a chance. Sometimes it pays to make more friends in high school than to always be dating or be popular because of who you date. These were the guys who fessed up that the reason they became friends instead of dating, was because they had more respect for me than they did the other girls. That confessed that my Deafness made them want to get to know ME, and protect me from the jerks so often found in high schools. One by one, as I asked their thoughts, they told me “their loss, you’re amazing”, or “don’t kept them drag you down” , and encouraged me not to give up. Yes, they were all married or dating, or even if single, they still valued my friendship too much to mess it up by dating me as an adult. At the same time, there was honesty in that I also valued their friendship, and that dating them wasn’t something I was interested in.

Even in my relationship now, communication is still a daily progress. Both of us have to work at it, and both of us have to have patience with the other. Falling in love with this man was easy, as he was one of those old friends, who came back in my life unexpectedly. He went above and beyond to ensure I understood him, and we talked, a lot in the early stage of our relationship via Skype, texts, emails. He is learning to recognize my tricks to comprehend him, and is now coaching me to HEAR, rather than use my logic, guessing, and lip reading skills. We still have misunderstandings on both sides, however for the most part, we communicate well, and we work to eliminate issues between us. What we both understand is, communication doesn’t end when the dating phase moves into the committed relationship phase. Men typically stop communicating effectively once they think they have the woman firmly committed to them. Often they think they no longer have to work at the relationship. For me, as a Deaf person, I needed good communication, simply because my day to day relationship with my partner required it.

Dating as a Deaf person is scary enough, and being in a committed relationship, is fraught with its own perils. I wouldn’t have it any other way, because life is boring if one doesn’t take a chance on someone. We celebrate our four year anniversary next Sunday, and those four years had a lot of challenges. The journey to get the cochlear implant began when I qualified during the early months of our relationship. It was derailed by a pregnancy, and my mother’s passing, and a period of unemployment that we both experienced. Then I had the surgery, the anniversary of which would be two years this April. Did I think it would create additional relationship issues? No, I didn’t. I didn’t expect the resulting grief of the loss of my residual hearing, or the issues I had at work, and the period of unemployment that resulted from it. The emotional fallout from those things nearly derailed US, but it did not, because the communication was there. The willingness to be patient and help the other was there, even in the midst of our most frustrating, emotional periods of both of our lives.

So, dating or being in a relationship with a person who has a disability, is really no different in the end, than with someone who is “normal”. No matter who you date, who you are in a relationship with, the same issues arise. Communication, understanding, respect, patience, kindness, and caring are all inherent in any relationship. The only thing that may change is accommodating for a person’s disability, or religious belief, or work. It all comes down to choices, and how you deal with those potholes, bumps, and curves in the road to finding the one that complements you.

The Mechanics of Speech Comprehension part Two

For the Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, speech comprehension is complex and involves a variety of coping skills. We use facial and body language to infer meaning. We use the hearing aid or the cochlear implant processor to hear those words. The technology of those aids and processors is crucial, as well as the programming of them, because if they don’t work, aren’t reliable, or powerful enough, programmed incorrectly, they don’t help us much at all. God forbid we need to go without because of an ear infection, illness, injury, headache etc..

There are other factors that impact our success at speech comprehension and language development as children. A few examples are: lighting, noise levels around us, movements people make while talking and the willingness of the people around us to accommodate and support our needs. For all of us, we have various things that compound our ability to comprehend speech, and we all also have different skill levels and coping strategies.

For me in particular, it’s people who don’t ensure they have my full attention, that move around or gesture, or don’t look directly at me which impedes lipreading, or forget that I might need better lighting, less noise, or better timing, I.e not in the middle of cooking or changing a diaper or other activity that requires my focus. I became strong very early in many of my coping skills which allowed me to do well in a mainstream school. Then ten years ago, I started having some problems on the phone, and then face to face in conversations.

Now, with the cochlear implant, I am learning to listen. I am also learning to not rely on guesswork, logic, and other skills to fill in the missing words. Speech comprehension is developing a whole new meaning for me with the auditory verbal therapy.

I do speak up when I don’t understand something, and ask for repetition and explain why I missed something that they need to fix. It is tiresome and frustrating to have to do it so much with loved ones. My children are learning, and it gets better every day. My family, sometimes they forget, because we are not living together any more so some habits are rusty. With strangers, its a necessity to explain, and teach them how to accommodate my needs. It isn’t hard, and it is really very simple. If one thinks about it, even hearing people require the same things, do the same things, but they don’t realize it.

Think about the ways you have conversations and follow them. When conversing , be actively aware of what skills you use to be successful. You might surprise yourself and find that you are using many of the skills that Deaf people use on a daily basis. Try having a conversation or spend the day wearing industrial strength ear plugs. Think about being in a bar or at a party where the music and chatter is so loud, you can’t even think. Spending the day trying to comprehend one person, or multiple persons in our daily tasks or at work would be challenging and tiring if we were surrounded by noise all the time. The absence of sound makes it harder.

I challenge you, the hearing person to try to spend some time in my shoes, and let me know how it goes 🙂

The Mechanics of Speech Development and thus, Speech Comprehension

I am not an expert on speech and language pathology, at least not in the trained, professional sense. I am however an expert on the other side, as a result of intensive speech therapy, my current auditory verbal therapy training, and strong speech reading skills. I also have experience as a mother of three children witnessing their own speech development. I also have an understanding of infant and child development which go hand in hand with speech and language development.

I want to try to explain this from the lay person perspective as one who lived it, to another lay person, whose child may be going to speech therapy, or may be behind, and you think he or she needs evaluation. If you can understand and even appreciate how much work it is from birth to pre- teen, the complexity of speech, and ultimately language; then perhaps it will be easier to help your child in this area, to know when to intervene.

So for any speech and language pathologists, audiologists, auditory verbal therapists :if there is any inaccuracy, or anything that requires correction or further explanation, please contact me at

As you know, my youngest is two (28 months if you want to be specific), and is currently learning new words daily. He has probably a grand total of 100 known words, and is beginning to speak more clearly. His receptive language acquisition is high. His understanding of body language, and facial expression is strong too. He is, with my experience with his siblings a little behind in speech. However, if we are able to get him evaluated I would expect we would be told he is on target. I am not overly worried, because of my own experience with speech acquisition, and with my current auditory verbal therapy, I have a clear picture of what is happening inside that adorable head of his, as he babbles and talks through the day.

At the Christmas party the other evening, I explained a little about the mechanics of speech acquisition as I understand it. Speech is made up of vowels and consonants, put together in a variety of ways to form words, which then get grouped together to form sentences. Then the words are associated with objects, actions, peoples, and places. Somehow in addition to learning how to say the sounds that make up the words, they must learn the association of those words, and then eventually compile into an understandable sentence. On top of that, body language, facial expression, and other non verbal communication is learned too. Speech comprehension is an inherent part of language acquisition for we must comprehend what we hear in order to reproduce it, and also in order to be active participants in the world around us.

As babies we hear our parents and family talk and chatter, yet somehow we learn to babble, and make sounds. Sounds like oo, ah, mm, da, ma, and so on. Deaf babies can make sounds, but generally because they figure out they can do something with that cute mouth besides cry and scream. Depending on the level of hearing, they might pick up some sounds and mimic them. Mimicking is key to speech development, as it shows what they can hear and see, which is why parents are encouraged to read, talk, and be up close early on with their babies. It is why we repeat simple words often like mama, dada, milk, more, and so on. As babies get older they start to parrot back what they hear, which is also very important in speech development.

Ling sounds are sounds based on the range of hearing frequencies. Vowels and consonants are grouped into six families of sounds if you will, and the main sounds are oo, ah, mm, ss, sh, ee. The sounds that are grouped under these are within the same frequency range, which is why they are often mixed up. For example, mm and nn are in the same group, as are d,p,b. Therefore, when a child enters speech therapy they are assessed for the sounds they can make, words they have learned, and then the gaps are filled in. For me, I literally started at ground zero, and went through the alphabet and learned every sound independently and as I got older learned how to group them together to make words. Largely, this is phonetic training, and thus the added benefit, was reading development. Children are shown how to make those sounds, mimicking and parroting the therapist. For a Deaf child like me, when a sound was not in my range of hearing, even with hearing aids, like a,sh,f, th, ph,ch it was difficult to master as I could not hear them. I was shown how to move my mouth, tongue placement, jaw movements, felt vibrations on the throat and so on.

As parents, we play a crucial role in this by talking to our children, reading to them, and if brave, singing to them. We repeat back what we hear them say, thus validating the effort, the correct sound made, and ultimately the correct word. Talking about our daily lives, looking at picture books, using teachable moments while out and about, provide word association opportunities. Playing with our children does the same, as we talk about the colours of their cars or blocks, the shapes of the blocks, the sizes of them and so on. Even seemingly unimportant nonsensical sounds like vroom is important. Giving the sounds animals make while playing with hand puppets and singing “Old MacDonald”, is important as well. The more we interact with our children and provide the language, the vocabulary, the sounds, and facial and body language, the more we are teaching them a very crucial part of growing up. Communication.

When you teach those words, take a moment to think about the sounds that make those words, how they are made, and how they are put together. Think about tongue placement, where the sound comes from, is it nasal or from the back of your throat, is it hard or soft, long or short? And so on. When you are teaching your child to read by breaking down the words into manageable syllables, or segments, you are essentially breaking down those words into the sounds needed. Phonetic teaching is important in speech development, and correspondingly, in reading development.

It sounds complicated and hard, I am sure you are thinking. It is. Having lived it as a child, cognizant of what I was being taught, and now as an adult, being taught to listen, interpret, comprehend those sounds, and thus correctly comprehend the words I hear, and then sentences without lipreading, I totally get it. I get why some choose to stay quiet and frustrate and worry their parents. I get those temper tantrums, meltdowns as my children tried to tell me something seemingly very important to them during their formative years. I see my son now, going along and I am learning right with him, and also reinforcing it for him. It is quite the process, and as a Deaf parent, a challenging one.

So how might we ease that transition and development? The simple answer is, teach them signs as early as four months of age, stick with it, as some take a while (mine took 15 months) and others take to it like ducks to water. Teaching signs gives a physical way to say the words, while they process and learn to make those words. It eases the frustration levels, and during so many developmental leaps, growth spurts, teething, separation anxiety and so on, this really helps us as parents help them through this. All of it is scary enough for them, and with no ability to give the words, it is no wonder they melt down into a puddle of heart wrenching tears and screams for what seems like an eternity while we stand by helplessly. Teaching sign language has been proven to ease those frustrations, and even increase or speed up speech development. It benefits hearing and deaf children, even those with hearing aids or cochlear implants. All avenues of communication should be taught, so why make it harder on them by not using sign language?

A friend who is a speech and language pathologist gave me the following rationale for using sign language early. The primary reason why babies will sign before they talk is because speech requires intricate, fine motor movements, which are slower to develop. Sign language, particularly baby signs, requires gross motor movements, which are easier for babies to produce. Babies begin understanding simple language concepts around 4-6 months, and will start using some simple signs around 8 months (these are averages). First words generally come around 12 months, due to the difficulty associated with producing the speech sounds.

Every baby develops at their own rate, and how quickly they progress can never be predicted. Some are prodigies and pick up three or four languages at once, soaking it up, especially in a multi-linguistic home. Others just quietly go along, babbling here and there, preferring to work on gross motor skills, and fine motor skills, like my son. Still more simply say nothing, and then out of the blue speak a full paragraph, leaving their parents stunned in disbelief after feeling like there is something wrong with their child. Of course, there are those where there ARE problems, like autism or hearing losses, or speech apraxia. Intervention must then occur, and parents must do everything in their power to support, encourage, and help their child achieve whatever level of communication is available to them, speech, signing, or a communication board.

So if you think your child is behind, try not to compare to other children that are the same age, because what happens inside these homes is different from yours. Every child is unique, and they develop in their own ways. If in doubt, it never ever hurts to get your child evaluated, because then you know. Check their hearing, check for autism if you see other signs, check for physical reasons for speech difficulties, and if your child has no physiological reason why he or she is delayed, involve a speech and language pathologist. Or if it is determined there is no delay, and they are in fact on target, relax and keep doing what you’ve been doing, and enjoy the process. Enjoy it regardless, for it truly is a miracle, a fascinating process, and so much fun to watch.

A friend says: ” as a SLP I am biased toward having kids evaluated sooner rather than later. If the eval shows the child does not have a true speech or language disorder, than the parent will have the peace of mind in taking the wait and see approach. However, if there is a problem, it is always better to start intervention early. It is so much easier to get the child on track if they receive therapy early, before dysfunctional patterns and/or behaviors develop. It’s easier to learn the correct way to say/do something the first time around than to re-learn it later. The goal of early intervention (birth-3 years) is to get the child up to age level before she/he starts school. Sometimes children receive their first evaluation when they start school, and by then they are already behind their peers. I would encourage parents to talk to their pediatrician if they have any concern about their child’s development (speech or otherwise).”

If your child does have a hearing loss, autism, or speech apraxia, then ask questions, research different methods, find the right professionals to help you. Support is out there, in more places than you think. And never ever think you failed your child, because you haven’t. You give your child the most important thing they need, unconditional love, unwavering faith, and steadfast support. Then, learn with them, and enjoy their successes, like you would have anyway, for those achievements are just as meaningful.

A Baby’s Language Development: Turn Taking

On a side note, also have closed captioning or subtitles on when watching tv or movies, because it gives them visual clues to what they are hearing, and also increases reading development. My older two children have proven it works, as both at age six were reading chapter books.

This graph shows where speech sounds fall on the audiogram.


See part two 🙂

Don’t Die a Copy

I am sharing this post, as she expresses similar sentiments about the social events we endure as deaf or hard of hearing individuals. Being ourselves is a hard thing to do.

Can You Hear Me Now?


I love the holidays.  The crisp, crystal clear mornings, the holiday songs on the radio and in the stores, the anticipation of spending time with family, the chance to wear my kitty hat again . . .

Of course, the holidays usually involve some kind of company and/or family party where lots of people get together, eat food, drink more than they should, and well . . .talk.  Large crowds make me nervous, especially when I don’t know everyone else all that well. The thing with large crowds at parties is that they are usually very noisy.  And, depending on the location, the lighting usually isn’t very good.  This means that lip reading becomes essential, as well as reading body language.  Yet, as I’ve mentioned before, lip reading is only 30-50 percent effective.  That and it’s really tiring.

When lip reading fails me, which it does on occasion, I have…

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