Abigayle Kyte was born with hearing loss. Congenital hearing loss is shared by every generation in her family; from her grandfather to her nephews. 13 of her family members including her siblings and father are hard of hearing. In case you missed it, her mother Lisa and brother Johnny shared their stories with us earlier this year!
In her family, being hard of hearing is the norm, but in the outside world, living with hearing loss has not come without challenges. Abigayle has faced struggles in social situations and more recently interacting with people wearing face masks due to COVID-19. Now at 23 years old, she is taking on the normal responsibilities and challenges of living on her own as a young adult, while continuing to navigate life with hearing loss.
We asked Abigayle to take on the role of “mythbuster”, breaking down some of the most common hearing related myths, and the truth behind them, from her perspective!
Myth: Hearing aids will restore your hearing to normal.
Reality: Hearing aids cannot restore hearing to normal, but they can help you hear better again. Hearing aids can help amplify the sounds going into the ear, which can help you hear what you’ve been missing.
Myth: Only older adults have hearing loss.
Reality: Anyone can have hearing loss - myself and my family members with hearing loss were all born with it. I also have other friends who developed hearing loss after getting sick as a child. There are many factors that can lead to hearing loss and it can happen at any age.
Myth: You can’t be successful or play sports with hearing loss.
Reality: Sports actually helped me growing up with hearing loss. It was hard in social situations but sports helped me make friends and be independent. I wear my hearing aids whenever I am playing sports, but you can also play without them. My uncle Jim was actually the first hard of hearing person to play in the NHL. This just shows that hearing loss does not hold you back from doing anything you want, especially playing sports.
Myth: Everyone who has hearing loss can read lips.
Reality: Not everyone can read lips, people lose their hearing at different times and ages, so it can be harder for some people with hearing loss to read lips. It takes time and practice to pick up lip reading, so there are people with hearing loss who are very skilled and many who are not.
Myth: Hearing aids are big and bulky. Everyone will notice them.
Reality: Most people I meet do not even realize I am wearing hearing aids unless I point them out because they are small and slim. Today’s hearing aid technology comes in all different types and sizes but they are all slim-fitting and can be unnoticeable if that’s what you prefer.
Myth: Hearing loss will only affect the person who has it – not their loved ones.
Reality: Hearing loss affects your loved ones as well as yourself. Hearing loss can negatively affect communication and interactions with loved ones. There can be frustration and stress for the loved one, when dealing with the change hearing loss creates. Loved ones can feel the affect of hearing loss when they get frustrated repeating themselves, as well feeling ignored and separation due to the hearing loss. It is important that when dealing with hearing loss, the person who has it and the loved ones practice communication and be nice to each other through this transition.