Often teachers ask, “Is the volumehigh enough for you?” when my class watches a documentary. Othersdo not realize I have a hearing disability. I would not change a thingabout my past, or my test of living with adisability.
“Deaf girl! Deaf girl!” said a boy on theplayground. He pulled his ears and made motions as if he couldn’thear. I turned as tears welled up in my eyes, but I waited until I gothome to cry. Even in fourth grade, two years after switching to amainstream class, kids still made fun of me. Crying was a dailyroutine.
The doctors diagnosed my profound hearing loss when Iwas two years old. My parents were shocked and did not want to believeit. And so I went to summer school, pre-school and kindergarten at aspecial program where my friends were like me. I did have friends whowere hearing, though, because I participated in Girl Scouts. For firstgrade, I went to a regular school, and was in a hearing classroom forhalf the day.
In second grade, my entire life changed. I left myhearing-impaired friends and switched to the regular classroom. Myparents and teacher made this decision because they thought Ididn’t need the extra help and would do better if I switched. Icontinued with speech lessons every month through middleschool.
In third grade, people made fun of me on the bus. The busdriver knew it, since one day she yelled at a kid who was teasing me.When the teasing continued, my dad came to the bus stop and spoke to thedriver. From that day on, we had assigned seats. I knew that it wasbecause of me and I felt embarrassed.
Fifth grade was the worsteven though I had the best teacher in the world. She was alwaysconsiderate when it came to my hearing impairment or personal issues,too. For example, when my best friend moved away, she would scold thosewho bullied me, but the taunting didn’t stop.
By the timemiddle school rolled around, I knew who my true friends were. They werealways there for me, but middle school was still tough becausekids were mean. They knew I read lips, so when they talked to me insmall groups, they would cover their mouths.
Every summer I wentto a camp for the Deaf in Massachusetts. Some of the girls and boys hada hard time adjusting to school too because of the students. I was ableto be myself, wear my hair without caring what others thought of myhearing aids, and sing songs and know that none of the other kids wouldcare that I was tone deaf.
My camp friends and I felt insecureabout our hearing impairments but we looked on the bright side ofthings. We could turn our hearing aids off whenever we wanted, which wasuseful when we didn’t want to hear what people were saying to us.Without these, thunderstorms or a crying baby never botheredus.
When I came to high school, I was happy. I no longer had totake speech lessons, or had a transmitter. I thought, Yes, now I willstart over, and people will start accepting me for who I am. Other thana few bad experiences freshman year, the teasing stopped. I went on tomake honor roll three times sophomore year, and I was really proud ofmyself because I did it all on my own. I even played volleyball and didall the typical things hearing kids did.
Last summer I went to aconvention in Massachusetts and learned about the cochlear implant,which is a device to help you hear. I don’t want one yet though,because I hope for more advanced technology soon. I also got to meetHeather Whitestone, the first Deaf person to be MissAmerica.
Being hearing impaired definitely has its challenges,but it is also a part of who I am. I always wonder who I would be if itweren’t for my hearing loss, but in the long run I don’tregret any of it. It has helped me become a strong person, and I’mproud of my accomplishments. As Helen Keller said, “Do not letyour obstacle master you, rather you become the master of yourobstacles.”
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.