Did you ever think someone could be confident and have hearing loss?
Some of you might say, “Well, yeah, my hearing loss doesn’t define me. I am who I am and I love all of me!”
Others might think, “No, my hearing loss is a daily struggle!” “I hide my hearing aids so no one knows”.
Today we’re discussing how you can master the skill of confidence to be the best #hearinglossboss.
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Advocate Like A Mother – The First Tip of Confidence with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss brings up many thoughts and emotions. Do words like fear, insecurity, negativity, stigma, disability, or silence stand out to you? If so, this is for you.
We often hide our hearing loss to feel more normal and to prevent interruptions. Go with the flow, right? The truth is, this puts you in a position that potentially causes you to stand out in a way that others usually do not understand. They don’t understand because you have not shared with them that you have difficulty hearing. Confusion occurs and things get awkward (am I right?).
Advocating for yourself is a skill one must master. Listed below are all the ways one can be the best advocate. If you have other tips that have been helpful to you, please reach out to me!
Building Confidence with Hearing Loss Is A Skill – Books & Podcasts to Help
Hearing loss and confidence don’t always come naturally and may take some time, but starting small and building from there will get you where you can confidently advocate for yourself. Confidence is a skill that anyone can master. I’ve listed my go-to books for mastering confidence here. Or, find a Podcast to help you work through your insecurities and put the advocacy skills you learned into action. Learning about hearing loss can help you better understand the needs you have and what solutions are available to help. Here are a couple podcasts I recommend:
All About Audiology by Dr. Lilach Saperstein, an educational audiologist who provides all things childhood hearing loss related. She even offers counseling for families!
All Ears at Child’s Voice A Hearing Loss Podcast, aims to connect parents of children with hearing loss with the professionals who serve them. Learning more about hearing loss will help you understand your struggles and how to move past them.
Hear and Now Podcast by Sophia Lebano, a college student with hearing loss who has a passion for faith, hearing loss awareness, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
The Rachel Hollis Podcast by Rachel Hollis. I’ve read or listened to all of her books and have applied at least a few things she talks about. Listening to her podcast inspires me and moves me to make changes in my life.
The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, a lifestyle entrepreneur who provides tips on how you find your purpose and greatness in life.
and so many more…
I’m always looking for new Podcasts and self-help books, if you have any recommendations please list them in the comments below!
Children’s Books About Hearing Loss – How We Can Share Our Story Through A Book
Children’s books are one of the most effective tools to engage with young children on important issues and hearing loss is no exception. To encourage confidence with hearing loss conversations with your children, use books to connect with them and bring a positive light to hearing loss. Find books that they can learn from and relate to and have a special fondness for hearing loss, or ones that encourage speech and listening development or sign language. Check out this list of books about confidence with hearing loss to read together as a family.
I’ve organized the list of books by categories:
- Cochlear Implant Children’s Books
- Hearing Aid Children’s Books
- Sign Language Children’s Books
- Cleft & Craniofacial Children’s Books
As the child gets older they can bring this book to school and share it with their classmates. This encourages the child to share his/her story and allow a space for questions to be asked. Adults and children often don’t know what is appropriate when it comes to hearing loss. They’re curious and sharing your hearing loss story encourages and invites others to understand your needs more. Talk about a confidence boost!
The Smile & Nod Approach – Not a Confidence Hack
Every person with hearing loss has succeeded once or twice using the Smile & Nod approach, which is why we keep doing it!
But, then there was that one time, you got caught! The bewildered look on the person makes you quickly realize you completely surprised them by your answer. You answered wrong! Do you blush and run away to hide? Or, do you laugh it off and ask them to repeat what was said?
A recent poll over on Instagram indicated that 100 % of you answered “Yes” you have responded to someone you did not hear by smiling and nodding.
The easy way out is to smile & nod and hope you correctly responded to the question. The hard way is to ask them to repeat what was said. Growing up with hearing loss I learned to use lip reading cues, facial cues, and body language to assist in how or what was said. I used these tools as a communication strategy. But, sometimes that wasn’t enough. I would have to get out of my comfort zone and ask the right questions. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”. Confidence with hearing loss!
Over the years I’ve worked hard to train myself to get out of my comfort zone and advocate. I want to know what was said, I want to understand what people are sharing or asking me, I don’t want to just…get by. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.
A person who acquires hearing loss later in life may struggle more because they are using their normal hearing skills that are no longer effective. People born with hearing loss often adapt to what they have and don’t know any different. For late-deafened children and adults, there are some ways to help make communicating easier, but it takes advocacy and confidence. Communication strategies can help them overcome the communication barriers. Click here for my 10 Tips on How to Communicate with a Hard of Hearing Person (coming soon).
Don’t smile & nod. Advocate.
Hearing Buddy System
Have you heard the phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know”? A person with hearing loss is working overtime to listen all day long. Sometimes we like to take listening breaks and tune the world out. Tuning the world out may cause people to say things without getting your attention first and you having no idea what was said. Sometimes the background noise is too loud and you’ve not heard what was said. A “hearing buddy” who happens to be with you is someone who understands your hearing loss and your needs. They can grab your attention or answer the question in a way that helps you fill in the gap of what was said without making things awkward. Good friends are key!
A perfect example that happened to me recently (and it often happens when meeting new people) was when I met a friend at a small airport who was introducing me to a friend of his. A plane was getting ready to take off so I turned away from the man who I was just introduced to to watch the airplane takeoff. My friend said, “She’s an Audiologist”, I caught on and realized I had missed the question. The man asked what I did for a living. So, I turned back around to him and explained further about how I am a pediatric audiologist working with kids to help them hear. Whew, saved by my Hearing Buddy!
Your Hearing Buddy can be a friend, spouse, relative. Someone to let others know we are not ignoring them, we just didn’t hear them. The 10 Commandments download (coming soon) can be passed out to your friends and family to help them better understand how they can communicate with you.
Own Your Difference
Overcoming your fear, insecurity, stigma starts with you. Owning your hearing loss is the first step. What’s next? Trial & error! I’ve listed a few helpful tips below for you to try as you navigate the hearing loss world. It doesn’t have to be scary, you can find a way through this. The hearing loss community is a strong one and we are here for you.
Listed below are just a few accounts I follow looking for inspiration:
@christykeanecan Chrisy Keane, mom of a young child with bilateral cochlear implants.
@mybattlecall Valli Gideons, mom of two teens with hearing loss and cochlear implants. Author of “NOW HEAR THIS: Harper Soars with her Magic Ears!”.
@merryakelly Merry Kelly, hard-of-hearing woman who is inspiring and teaching others how to live confidently with their hearing loss.
@mama.hu.hears Michelle, a hard-of-hearing mama, chef, and pediatric audiologist (like me!) who shares tips & tricks for parents of young children with hearing loss. Another excellent pediatric audiology account that provides tips & tricks for young children with hearing loss is @listenwithlindsay.
@blob_mom Carrissa, a hard-of-hearing woman who received her cochlear implant later in life and is about to receive her second side soon! Her Blabberville CI talks are relatable and so so honest.
and so many more…
Start A Platform
Confidence with hearing loss can be shared with total strangers! Social media is not for everyone, but sometimes it can be the thing that helps a person come out of their ‘hearing loss shell’ so to speak. Talking about your thoughts and feelings to total strangers that quickly become your closest hearing confidants may be just the thing you need.
The hearing loss community is strong. We all research information, seek hope, while inspire others with our personal journey. This takes vulnerability. If you can overcome this then you can open up to those in your life, including the grocery store clerk who is wearing their mask who has no idea you have a hearing problem.
This season we are coming together to find ways to help others hear in this so-called “new normal”. See the accounts listed above for inspiration! I have my eBook, How To Start a Hearing Loss Boss Instagram coming soon to help make this process easy-peasy for you.
Make A Fashion Statement
Something I recommend for young children (and adults!) is to dress up their devices! Growing up I didn’t have the option of picking out fun colors or putting stickers on my hearing aids. I always encourage my patients to pick fun hearing aid colors or add stickers. Decorating the hearing devices helps the child realize they don’t have to hide their devices. Own it! Show them off! Tell people they are “custom made, very expensive air-pods”.
Parent side tip: choosing a bright color will help make the hearing aids easier to find when the child throws them anywhere and everywhere. Any parents experience this before?
If we’re being honest, by the time this kind of stuff came out I was in high school and I was not about showing off my hearing aids. I was not confident with my hearing loss. My setup, beige behind-the-ear hearing aids with a clear skeleton (hole in the middle) mold, was working. People hardly noticed my hearing aids. Adding an FM system, which was much larger back then, would complicate this subtlety I had created for myself. I was not looking to stand out. I wanted to feel normal. Those are awkward times!
Adding flair to your device gives you the confidence to talk about it. People will notice them more. Therefore, they are more likely to ask about the hearing aids, cochlear implants, or BAHAs. It’s up to you to have your excited answer ready to educate others. If you’ve read through the tips above then you should be ready to take on the world. When someone or something trips you up, stand up – brush it off – and get back out there. If you need a solution…find one! You are not alone.
Here are my top 3 decorative brands for hearing aids and cochlear implants:
Little Auricles – An audiologist and mother of three, she understand the need for children to feel accepted. She felt it was necessary to design these hearing aid accessory kits and create a range of uniquely designed products to encourage children to love their aids. Coming to terms with hearing loss and the need to wear hearing aids everyday can be a difficult and a daunting process not only for children, but for their parents too.
Ear Gear – Ear Gear has been in the industry for 15 years providing hearing aid/BAHA/cochlear implant sleeves to protect your devices against damage from sweat, water, dirt, & more. These soft, acoustically transparent spandex sleeves often come with a stretchy cord, O-ring and durable strong locking clip, and are made to protect your devices from dirt, sweat, & moisture (not waterproof!). They even have a 1 year 100% unconditional guarantee AND you can even have one custom made! EarGear can also be customized for a cochlear implant too!
Accessories, Routines, and Systems to Help You Worry Less About your Hearing Devices
Listed below are my go-to items to help protect hearing devices and to not let any barriers stop you from doing the things you love. Creating systems or purchasing additional accessories to help make your life with hearing loss easier is highly recommended. This will give you the confidence in your devices to ensure you don’t lose or break them. Check with your company first to see what they provide and advise prior to trying other accessories.
Creating systems or routines can help you gain confidence in your hearing. Like, having a case to hold your spare batteries so you’re never off the air. Create a travel packing list that has essential items, like your batteries, at the top of the list. Bring a waterproof case to put your hearing aids in to keep them safe from moisture or water. See some of my recommended accessories to go with your hearing device.
I hope this blog post helps you find the confidence you need to take on the world with your hearing loss. I hope you can share and encourage others to be confident with their hearing loss. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or any other tips to share!