A little girl with a purple hearing aid


It’s OK To Ask My Daughter About Her Hearing Aids

Feb 28, 2018

People tend to think about hearing loss as something that happens to seniors and that hearing aids are barely visible earbuds. So when they see a baby or young child wearing hearing aids that wrap behind the ear, people tend to be a little taken aback. 

Ask me how [hearing aids] work, or if she can hear without them, or if she has to wear them all the time. Just don’t ask, “What’s wrong with her?”

My daughter’s hearing aids are bright purple and her current ear molds are a rainbow pattern. Pretty hard to miss. And very, very cool.

Kids are often curious about what’s in her ears. The younger the child, the more likely they are to ask questions. Sometimes people try to stop their kids from asking or apologize for their children’s questions. I’ve never understood why. It’s genuine curiosity and an opportunity to create an empathetic human connection. I often think it’s the bright and glittery patterns of her hearing aids that attract the attention of children.

You'll Also Love: 5 Things My Special Needs Child Has Taught Me About Parenting

My daughter’s at the age now when most kids direct their questions to her. Self-advocacy has been one of the skills we’ve been developing with her since preschool and she’s become very good at answering questions for herself. Most conversations look something like this:

“What’s in your ears?”
“My hearing aids.”
“Why do you have them?”
“Because they help me to hear.”

That’s usually the gist of the conversation before kids go back to the busy work of play. My husband and I have been purposeful about avoiding euphemisms, such as calling her hearing aids her ears. She understands that their function is to help her hear.

I want you to feel as though you can ask questions and learn about something that is unfamiliar to you. Let’s have a conversation that is based on genuine curiosity and kindness.

As we spend more time in the ‘big kid’ part of the school yard, I’ve started to notice older children giving her sideways glances and asking each other questions behind their hands. I wish those children knew that we welcome their questions and will answer them honestly.

Adults are just as curious as children. They just try a little harder to play it off and hide their curiosity. I’ve watched adults try to position themselves at just the right angle to figure out what’s in my daughter’s ears. But I understand if you’ve never seen a child wearing a hearing aid before — I didn’t know much about the technology before my daughter was born either. It’s OK to ask! Ask me how they work, or if she can hear without them, or if she has to wear them all the time. Just don’t ask, “What’s wrong with her?” — you probably won’t get much of a response from me. And please don’t say “poor baby” or “that’s weird” after I’ve answered your questions. I don’t entertain those comments.

You'll Also Love: 10 Things To Remember When Advocating For Your Special Needs Child

I hope to see an end to the stigma attached to being deaf and hard of hearing. I want you to feel as though you can ask questions and learn about something that is unfamiliar to you. Let’s have a conversation that is based on genuine curiosity and kindness. Respect when my daughter doesn’t want to answer any more questions — but please do ask.

I love that my daughter wears bright and boldly coloured hearing aids that everyone can see. We will always speak openly about her hearing loss and teach her to be proud of the things that set her apart from the crowd. I hope you’ll join the conversation.

Article Author Kara Stewart-Agostino
Kara Stewart-Agostino

Read more from Kara here.

Kara is the mom of two children, ages nine and six, who keep her busy with baseball, gymnastics, music and lots and lots of crafts. She is the owner of KSA Personal Training that she runs primarily out of her home studio. As a fitness enthusiast, she loves dabbling in different activities and pushing herself to try something new. Her current fitness loves include powerlifting, boxing and a weekly beer softball league with her husband while the kids cheer them on!

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.