In a previous blog post, we checked in with Johnny Kyte, Captain of the Canadian Deaflympics hockey team. He shared his experience growing up with hearing loss.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we connected with Johnny’s Mom, Lisa Kyte! Lisa shared her experience with hearing loss, being the only one in her immediate family who is not hearing impaired.
Read more about how their family has dealt with their hearing loss over the years and how hearing aids have impacted their lives - from Lisa's perspective!
Tell us about your experience with hearing loss and how it has impacted your family.
Lisa - My husband has congenital hearing loss and all four of our children are hearing impaired. His father and our grandson are also hearing impaired so hearing loss has crossed every generation in our family. They have mild to moderately severe loss and it has impacted all our lives.
My husband actually failed the 2nd grade twice before they discovered he was hearing impaired! We knew we didn't want that to happen to our children, so we were keen on getting their hearing tested early. Without government financial support or private insurance that covers hearing aids, it has been a daunting task financially to keep our kids equipped with working hearing aids.
From your perspective, how did hearing loss affect your children growing up?
Lisa - Socially, it was hard on them - making friends, hearing things in a locker room, or picking up on jokes. Excelling in sports and athletics helped them overcome many social barriers.
Luckily our four children are only 3 years apart in age, so that mitigated some of it. With my husband and all the kids being hearing impaired, I was the weird one at home.
What support did you provide to your family members with hearing loss?
Lisa - The biggest support we could provide was getting hearing aids into their ears as soon as we could.
We lived in an area where there were schools with special wiring for the hearing aids. The teacher would wear a microphone so their voice went right into the hearing aids. The motto of the school was “Every child hears like they are in the front row”.
When we moved to a different district for work, the same resources were not available. We ended up quitting our jobs after a year and moving back so the kids could continue to have access to the best scholastic resources for hearing impaired children. We hired a teacher in the summers to continue to work with the kids so they didn’t lose what they had gained during the normal school year.
Our priority was making sure our children realized that they were not limited by their hearing impairment. We taught them to look at it as an inconvenience, not a disability.
Can you share any communication tips you have for other people to better communicate with their loved ones with hearing loss?
Lisa - It is not about how loud you speak. It’s much more important that you take the time to make sure your loved one with hearing loss can see your mouth. Speak a bit slower and keep your hands away from covering your mouth! Be patient and understanding if you aren’t being heard. Nothing makes a child withdraw into themselves more than having someone angry or mad at them for something they can’t control.
What advice would you give to a parent who just found out their child has hearing loss?
Lisa - Talk to other families that are coping well as soon as you can! It is important to realize quickly that there are many resources available to your family. Arrange for hearing aids as soon as possible; no age is too young. Assuming your child was tested at birth and school is still years way, start now to research and find the best schools and youth programs available. Once you find them, get your child registered, on the waitlist or plan on moving if necessary, to qualify for those resources. Search for funding to help offset the prohibitive cost of hearing aids.
How have hearing aids improved your family members lives?
Lisa - Hearing aids have helped my whole family to hear better and live better. They have been able to participate in organized sports, regular school and have meaningful friendships and careers. Without the assistance of hearing aids, none of that would have been possible.
If you’ve put off treating your hearing loss — or have a loved one who has — experience the difference better hearing can make. Call (888) 919-6824 or click here to find a hearing professional near you.