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My Hearing Loss Journey
I was born with permanent bilateral severe sensorineural hearing loss and fitted with hearing aids at 18 months of age. Shortly after, I attended a Total Communication preschool program where I learned Signing Exact English and spoken language.
I continue to practice my American Sign Language (ASL) signing skills using ASLPro.com & International Open Academy. I took ASL in high school and college. My high school ASL courses counted as both high school and college credits towards my foreign language requirements. Knowing ASL has been a huge help in communicating with my Deaf patients. I can also teach parents some basic baby signs to help get them started!
At age 4, I transitioned to the mainstream kindergarten class at the same school and continued to excel. Once it was established that I would do well attending my local elementary school (I lived a block away from my nearest elementary school) I switched schools in 2nd grade. I continued to have pull-out services for speech therapy (which I always thought was an excuse to play games!) until 6th grade.
I tried FM systems (currently known as Assistive Listening Devices or Remote Microphone technology) and did not like them. I always share with my teen patients that I totally get it when it comes to having to lug around ALD equipment. It wasn’t until college that I fully utilized an FM system. Man, I wish I would have used it WAY earlier!
Growing up I played soccer, softball, and volleyball. I LOVED sports – and still do! See my Sports Tips & Tricks with hearing loss blog post for more information on how to protect your devices. I strived to live a life where I would feel ‘normal’. I was good at sports and found it to be an outlet. Each child has a way they feel they can express themselves. I truly believe this helps build their confidence. To learn more confidence hacks check out this post here.
During my graduate school years, I began to struggle to keep up with the demands of graduate-level courses, clinical rotations and studying. Classmates & faculty brought it to my attention that a cochlear implant might benefit me. Initially, I said, no way! In hindsight, this was only fear talking. As I completed my cochlear implant rotations I experienced the amazing impact the cochlear implant had on the lives of the people who had one. Due to some unforeseen circumstances leading to lots of downtime during my externship year, I decided to make the bold decision to receive a cochlear implant for my left ear. Read more about my Cochlear Implant Journey here. Fast forward a few years later, and I am still grateful for my decision to receive a cochlear implant.
I completed my Doctor of Audiology degree and followed my dream of becoming a Pediatric Audiologist and working with children with hearing loss. You can watch my commencement speech on YouTube. Learn more about my journey through college and tips to help you navigate college life here.
I am a published author of The Rapid Audiogram Interpretation: A Clinician’s Manual handbook, co-author of several articles, and now a blogger! The Rapid Audiogram Interpretation: A Clinician’s Manual was published in 2019 to provide professionals working in the field with a quick reference guide, workbook, and manual on how to quickly (and correctly) interpret audiograms. Contact the publisher for bulk order discounts.
You can hear more about my story via Podcast where I discuss ALL THE THINGS by All About Audiology Podcast by Dr. Lilach Saperstein.