Source: Volta Voices
My life as the only student who is hard of hearing in my school can sometimes feel like a bottomless pit of confusion. It is not always that bad, but it is a struggle. I miss a lot of sounds. I often don’t even know if I have missed a sound, sometimes at my own expense. My life at school is defined by what I hear, what I don’t hear and how I learn to cope with the differences.
When I meet new people, they do not always notice my hearing aids. They often do not understand why I do things in a different way, and it may seem weird to them. They will shout at me because they think I am doing something wrong, even though it is just the way I do things. Sometimes, even when they do notice my hearing aids, they will still shout at me. They think I am just being “difficult” or I am lying about my hearing loss. They think I am dumb or don’t have any “feelings” because I can’t hear well.
In school, I struggle with how some teachers act. They cannot seem to adjust to having a student who is hard of hearing. For example, even though my parents and I have asked them not to, they will do things like speak facing the board and not toward the class. The sound just bounces off the board and away from me. I can only hear a bit of what they say. I can’t understand those lone bits of sound if they don’t talk to me.
Teachers will also sometimes change assignments orally and I will miss what they say. Then, when I turn in the assignment, I get marked down or get an “incompletion” grade, even if I have everything else correct. This makes me feel sad and confused because I try so hard, but I don’t seem to meet their standards. It is not that I cannot do the work, but I need to do it my way. It takes a lot of extra energy to do simple things, like listen to a lecture or take notes on a video that is not closed-captioned. If I cannot see the notes or the information the teachers are trying to pass on to me, I find it harder to understand.
I have learned how to cope with the frustrations of being hard of hearing. I spend time with family and friends who understand me. I am also active in sports, like basketball, soccer and tennis, and that helps, but it is not without problems. Occasionally while playing basketball, I will receive a technical foul because I can not hear the referee, and once a soccer coach threatened to kick me off the team because I couldn’t hear him.
Surprisingly, there are some advantages to being hard of hearing. When I sleep without my hearing aids, noises don’t wake me up. I sleep well and have lots of energy when I wake up. The only bad part, of course, is actually having to get up. In school, I find it easy to focus when I take my hearing aids out. Also, I can turn my hearing aids off if my parents are nagging me. Of course that just makes them mad but, after all, I am a little bit of a teenager (but not too much of one).
There are advantages and disadvantages to being the only student who is hard of hearing in my school. Once I explain my hearing loss, most people understand and treat me fairly. Good teachers, good coaches and other school officials have helped me thrive. I have challenges to overcome, but so does everyone else, each in their own way. I may be the only kid who is hard of hearing in my school, but as I listen to the lone sounds of my life, they tell me I am not alone.
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