by Arianna Belle
I am hard of hearing in a hearing world. I lost 80% of my hearing by age 4 due to many untreated ear infections and cannot hear at all in my right ear now in my mid 20s without a hearing aid. Being that I grew up in a hearing world, and went to a hearing school all my life, I grew up wanting nothing to do with the deaf community, because I was afraid of being judged and mistreated above all, I felt like something was wrong with me, and I felt ashamed, and nobody was really there for me to tell me it was okay to be hard of hearing. Because of this, all I ever wanted was to be treated like normal hearing kids, like everyone else, and I find it sooo depressing when I can’t hear what’s going on around me.
I didn’t grow up with deaf pride. I tried learning sign language at an early age through books, but it frustrated me, because that’s not my learning style, and there was nobody there to encourage me to keep on learning. As a child, I didn’t know what was best for me. I learn best through interactive-visual learning. I couldn’t go to a deaf school either, because my family was too poor to move to an area where a deaf school was located, where I could interactively learn ASL and be part of the deaf community.
Being that I’m in my mid 20s, and am finally realizing now that I missed out on such a wonderful community, and missed out on developing pride as a deaf person, I wished my family would have been more patient with me and encouraged me often and helped me to find the nearest deaf community so I could truly be myself.
Being that I’m hard of hearing, I feel like I don’t quite fit into the world of hearing, yet I don’t fit in the world of the deaf, and don’t know if I will ever lose all of my hearing. When one like myself doesn’t know where to fit in, in the world, it’s truly sad.
If you find you meet someone who is hard of hearing, keep in mind that not all us have pride, and some of us may feel shamed for something that is sooo beautiful and should never be ashamed of, so patience is necessary and so is encouragement if you don’t see the pride. If you give birth to, and/or adopt a child that is hard of hearing, please please PLEASE give them all the encouragement and support and all your love to them – as well as patience. Don’t let your child, and don’t let your friends, co-workers, family members, and anyone else you meet feel shame for being hard of hearing or deaf.
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