May is Better Speech and Hearing month. Do what you can to protect your hearing. It’s a noisy world.
May is Better Speech and Hearing month. Do what you can to protect your hearing. It’s a noisy world.
Day by day
Sounds of spring often go unheard
May 3, 2016
Spring is in full swing and along with it comes birdsong, children’s laughter, wind chimes gently clanging in the breeze, rain splattering on the roof and windows, thunderstorms and — on the warm days — quiet conversations on decks, porches, patios and in campgrounds and parks.
All this delicious activity we wait for all winter long. But for about 20 percent of Americans — 48 million people — with some degree of hearing loss, these springtime gifts are diminished.
These millions can see the birds, but can’t hear the songs.
They see the children laughing.
These millions can see the wind chimes moving in the wind, but the melodious sounds elude them.
The lightning of a storm is present for these many, but the thunder might only be felt, not heard.
They see the rain hitting the windowpanes, but no pitter-patter sound meets their ears.
But most disheartening of all is the inability to carry on a conversation. Words are muddled or lost, and the meaning of a conversation is beyond their comprehension.
They sit feeling the warmth of the sun and watch the words being spoken; the jokes they won’t get or be able to repeat.
These same people use what they can to make sense of the noisy world we live in through touch, vision, taste and smell.
Many simply withdraw. It’s tiring trying to understand.
Even the best lip reader will grasp only a small percentage of a conversation.
I’m one of the millions with hearing loss.
At 39, I got my long-overdue first hearing aid and heard bacon sizzling for the first time in years. I was terrified during a spring storm. But my loving husband took me outside and explained the noises that had been lost for so many years, and my fear subsided.
The world of sound was partially back, but not for long. By 50, I was deaf, but with the miracle of a cochlear implant, hearing was restored with a clarity I might never have had in my entire life with hearing loss.
I had said, “Huh?” so often in my life that I had to unlearn using it.
But I’m still deaf when the batteries die.
For those who understood words prior to hearing loss and can no longer understand the world around them, it’s lonely. The noise of this world is creating more people who have hearing loss every day.
Causes include excessive noise, medications, heredity, viruses, disease, ear malformations, tumors, head trauma and aging.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels.
Some common sounds and their noise levels are: 20 dB, rustling leaves; 60 dB, normal conversations or dishwashers; 60-70 dB, normal piano practice; 80 dB, alarm clocks; 90 dB, hair dryers, blenders and lawnmowers; 100 dB, MP3 players at full volume; 110 dB, concerts (any music genre), car racing and sporting events; 130 dB, ambulances and fire-engine sirens; 140 dB, gunshots, fireworks and custom car stereos at full volume.
It is worth the time to find ear protection. Even musicians who mostly make beautiful sounds can use special ear protection to keep performing and enjoying music for years to come.
The noise is too loud when: you have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby; the noise hurts your ears; you develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears; or you don’t hear as well as you normally do until several hours after you get away from the noise.
Excessive exposure to loud noise also can cause stress, illness, sleep disruption and high blood pressure.
At age 65, one in three people has some hearing loss.
About two to three of every 1,000 children are hard of hearing or deaf. It is estimated that 30 schoolchildren per 1,000 have hearing loss.
Childhood noise risks include noisy toys, sporting events, band class, motorbikes, farm equipment, movie theaters, shop class, arcades, concerts, firearms, fireworks, power tools and MP3 players.
If you suspect you or your child has hearing loss, see an ear, nose and throat doctor or your primary-care physician to rule out any medical condition.
May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. It’s a good time to remember the value of our hearing and ability to communicate.
Life’s too short to miss the music of laughter. It’s nice to understand why others are laughing, too.
For more information, visit hearingloss.org.
At age 65, one in three people has some hearing loss. About two to three of every 1,000 children are hard of hearing or deaf.
Day by day
Hearing loss symptoms should prompt call to doctor
By Liz Thompson
April 29, 2015
This Week News
As a youth, I loved swimming underwater. Watching the air bubbles rise to the surface caused my head to lift and see blue sky. Underwater I didn’t worry about hearing and I felt normal. Underwater everyone heard like I did.
Needing air, soon I’d burst through the water’s rim gasping. Then I’d hear it: noise. Laughing, slapping of water, yelling and the lifeguard’s whistle. I’d dive back under for peace.
By 50, I was almost deaf, wearing hearing aids, reading lips and body language. The miracle of a cochlear implant restored more than 90 percent of my hearing with clarity I’d never experienced. A few years later, a second implant gave me “surround sound.” I am permanently above water, living in a world of clear sounds, not mere noise.
Hearing loss is invisible. No tests existed in 1951, my birth year, to check babies’ hearing. Today a problem can be found within days of a child’s birth, giving way to treatment or therapy.
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association teaches that signs of hearing loss in a child include: lack of attention to sounds (birth to 1 year); not responding when calling his/her name (7 months to 1 year); not following simple directions (1-2 years); delays in speech and language development (birth to 3 years); pulls or scratches at his/her ears; once in school, has difficulty achieving academically; socially isolated and unhappy in school; and persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise.
I encourage those who suspect hearing loss in their children to seek an accredited audiologist and ear, nose and throat physician to have your child examined.
Likewise, I urge adults who suspect hearing loss to be tested. It’s easy to ignore signs stating hearing aids are expensive — and they are — or they won’t work for them. I lived with both thoughts until I finally got a hearing aid at age 39, knowing since 29 I needed one.
I have learned the average person waits seven years to get a hearing aid after being told it would help. Do the math: I waited 10 years. Stubborn.
Signs of hearing loss in adults include: inattentiveness; buzzing or ringing in their ears; failure to respond to spoken words; persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise; muffled hearing; constant frustration understanding speech and other sounds; avoiding conversation; social isolation; accusing everyone of mumbling; and depression.
Heather Pliskin, director of speech services at the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center, said that communication skills are directly related to academic success.
“Speaking, listening, reading and writing are the foundational skills for school and for life. Early intervention is the key. The earlier a child receives speech-language therapy, the faster the progress can be made,” Pliskin said.
Red flags for possible communication delays include: age 1, not saying a few words or pointing to pictures and objects; and age 2, not using simple two-word combinations and not being understood 70 percent of the time.
Preschool/early elementary school: age 2-3, not following one- to two-step directions; age 3, not using correct common pronouns and not being understood 80 percent of the time, 90 percent by age 5.
“When a child is young — especially before age 3 — it is especially important to involve the parents and/or caregivers in the process,” Pliskin said.
Audrey Tobias agreed.
“Speech therapy has improved the lives of every member of our family. When our son started receiving therapy at 2.5 years old, he had a vocabulary of zero spoken words. He couldn’t even say ‘no.’ We were scared to leave him in the care of anyone else because there was no way for him to tell us if anything went wrong.
“Now, two years later, he is a funny chatterbox! He cracks jokes all the time and loves to make complicated, exciting plans. We know what is going on in his life and what he’s thinking. For the first time, we feel like we really know who our son is as a person. It’s been an amazing transformation. We are extremely grateful for the skilled help he continues to receive.”
May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. Columbus Speech and Hearing Center is giving away two hearing aids to the essay winner who is most in need to understand the world around them. Go to columbusspeech.org and click the Hearing What Matters link before May 11 to learn how to enter.
The music of this world is up for grabs.
Come out from under the water and listen, and tell me all about it.
Day by day
Music unlocks many emotions
By LIZ THOMPSON
Tuesday October 7, 2014
When I was invited to a hymn sing at an assisted living home, I asked, “What hymns are you singing?” and was thrilled with the answer.
The list included what I call old, familiar songs such as Amazing Grace, When We All Get to Heaven, Love Lifted Me and a childhood favorite, This Little Light of Mine.
I was also glad I would be sitting with the residents and not leading the singing. My singing voice went south in my mid-40s when I was almost deaf, a condition that happened gradually since childhood.
Music and singing was my fervent hobby, and I often led singing at such places while playing my guitar. I had missed it and realized this particular day that, in part, I had been missing the contact with people who love visitors and music.
After two successful cochlear implants, I had hoped for restoration of my ability to grasp music, but it didn’t quite happen as I hoped.
I can understand most vocalists’ words — if they actually enunciate and sing, not what appears to be screaming into a microphone — but new music melodies are like a foreign language and quite flat.
Am I sad about that? At first I was, but my restored ability to understand speech and sounds with clarity superseded any sadness. Going from deaf to understanding about 95 percent is nothing to sniff at and I’m thankful beyond measure.
Back to music.
To my joy, 40-plus years of music are stored in my brain, and heart I believe, as music memory. If I see the words and get the first note of a song, or have the music to read, I get it and can sing.
My voice is no longer one for performing but I don’t mind singing at home or in groups. When my grandchildren were small, nothing stopped me from singing to them as I know I was sung to by my mother and grandmothers.
I can still hear the beat so my foot taps, hands clap and my soul is soothed.
Remember the show Name That Tune? Often I knew the tunes in two to five notes. So you can understand my music memory is full of good songs such as hymns, music from the 1930s (thanks to my parents) through the early 1990s that includes folk songs, show tunes, camp songs, pop, big band, songs I composed and more.
It’s a true blessing and I’m glad my brain has a lot of good information stored for easy access when needed. I don’t even need to select an app to get at it. I only need to think of a song or hear a familiar tune.
After my recent column on memory, a reader, Dana, told me about a movie that was, at the time, showing at the Drexel Theatre called, Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory .
To my chagrin, I didn’t move fast enough to attend and it has moved on to another city. Looking on the website, musicandmemory.org, I learned that music has proven to reach people with Alzheimer’s.
Not a surprise. Many memories are locked inside all of us and we need something to turn the key. In the case of music, it often unlocks memories and emotions for me.
When at the hymn sing, a woman in her 90s held up her forefinger and waved it back and forth when we sang This Little Light of Mine. I joined her in the motion and smiled remembering doing that as a child and when I taught my children the song.
Music can bring tears to my eyes from the message or a melancholy memory often marking the passing of time in my life.
After my first implant, my audiologist told me about HOPE Notes. According to the program’s website, http://hope.cochlearamericas.com/listening-tools, it is a “program uniquely developed for cochlear implant and hearing aid users designed to help improve music perception and appreciation using original songs, traditional folk, blues and country styles and some familiar tunes played in unexpected ways.”
Using both visual and auditory cues, it reminded me of how I heard music, and it improved my ability to enjoy it more.
The man who developed the program is a musician with cochlear implants. So often, adversity brings a gift and he shared his gift with others in a similar situation.
Next time you sway to a familiar tune, “count your blessings, name them one by one …”
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Going to church was part of growing up for me. The sound of our church bell roused me from sleep on Sundays, sending out a reminder to come worship. I didn’t even think about not going to church—it was an integral part of my life, and I loved everything about it. From walking in the doors, seeing familiar faces, listening to the music and singing in choirs since my youth, to listening to sermons—even when I could not understand everything said—and returning later for youth group meetings or other events at our church.
Music was a huge part of my worship. Singing was as natural as breathing for me. Walking two by two into church in our choir robes and holding our music high, we would sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” marking the time with each step. The words of the hymns soaked into my heart and soul comforting and teaching me.
Looking back, the ritual of worship and familiarity was something I sought out when I was an adult and on my own. There were times I moved far from God. I’m not proud of those times, but I know I learned from them. Those were lonely times thinking I could do things on my own without seeking God for answers; without looking for a place to worship with others and not listening to God’s direction.
But today I know God never moved. He was right there waiting for me to wake up and listen to His voice.
Listening was a problem for me physically since at least fourth grade when I was told what I already sensed: I had significant hearing loss. The 50′s were not a time when technology would have helped me very much but acknowledgment from my family would have helped. Yet, I became stronger and learned to read lips and body language as my hearing worsened. By 29 I needed hearing aids but waited 10 years before taking action on this knowledge. The doctor told me my ears were 80 years old. When I asked what they would be like when I was 80, he said, “Learn sign language.”
With my first hearing aid, the world opened up for me, and I was better able to live in the hearing world. Then a few years later, a second hearing aid helped even more. About this same time, God inspired me with lyrics and music, and I performed them with my guitar. After six years of this inspiration, it stopped as suddenly as it started. That’s when I started taking American Sign Language (ASL) classes. If nothing else, I would sign the music.
Soon I realized I could no longer hear my own voice when I sang, especially in choir. So I relented and sat in the pew with my husband. Soon after, I was deaf with only about eight percent of my hearing remaining.
How would I worship without music? Without hearing? All my life, worship involved voice and now mine was silent. My life was silent with only snippets of sound.
God reached me in my silence. He spoke in a silent language of my heart. He taught me to listen in new ways and gave me courage to move on in the hearing world.
In the late 90′s, attending church meant my husband repeated the sermon highlights when we went home and the bulletins were how I obtained church news. People were kind, knowing I couldn’t take part in conversations and hugs were plentiful. I was part of a team that sought FM Listening Systems for the hard of hearing in our church. That helped me for a time but then, no longer. Life was silent and I sat in the pew praying while others sang and spoke.
One Saturday, I drove past a church I’d seen often and my car seemed to steer into the parking lot. I took a deep breath and walked to the door and knocked. No answer. I knocked again, knowing there were people in the church. Nothing. I peeked in the window and saw people and knocked a third time and someone saw me and opened the door. I was so nervous and embarrassed. Why? It was a church for the Deaf and I had been knocking!
Using my rough ASL, I asked a few questions about services and told them my husband was hearing. “How will he know what is happening?” I asked. The pastor spoke and signed back to me, “We speak and sign and have many hearing in services.”
We attended for a year, I grew and learned that worship wasn’t all about talking and music; it was about praising God and letting his love shine into the world.
God continued to reach me in silence, but in 2002, I had my first cochlear implant restoring 95 percent of my hearing. Thank God! Sound was back in my life, but I am still deaf when the batteries die. Music didn’t return with the implant, but I have a new appreciation for sounds of nature which is truly music to my ears.
Our loving God knows all our lives. He knew I would become deaf and need to learn the music of my heart—His heart. Over the years, my love of writing was developed through poetry, music, essays and various writing venues. Now I know why. One doesn’t have to hear in the true sense to write. But since I hear God in my heart, mind and soul, His messages come through loud and clear. And I write.
Read my interview at this link: http://www.sellingbooks.com/elizabeth-thompson-author-interview
Be sure and check the other author interviews. One in particular, Donna Schillinger who is a good friend, great writer and editor. Also, a fellow Christian.
Welcome to WordPress.com. I just signed up for WordPress via linkedin. Here I will post updates on my book, Day by Day, The Chronicles of a Hard of Hearing Reporter, published by Gallaudet University Press in June 2008 and other things happening.