I was able to attend the HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) convention in Milwaukee thanks to a Starkey Scholarship for Young Adults.
There’s so many things I want to blog about which is why it’s taken me so long to type up this post. I decided to just type up a few items from my notes because there’s no way I can get around to blogging about everything in detail.
THURSDAY, JUNE 17TH
I rode up to the airport with Dennis where we met up with Sarah (who also received a Starkey for Young Adults scholarship). We met up with Victor later in the day at Milwaukee. We arrived early enough to check into the hotel, pick up our convention items, and get settled in before attending the afternoon lectures.
Below are some random notes I took from various lectures.
–A child’s socioeconomic background may actually have more of an impact on a HOH/deaf child’s language development than a HA/CI itself.
–Sign language early on doesn’t have a negative impact on a child’s oral language as he/she is going through the CI evaluation process. If nothing else, it gives him/her an important foundation for developing language.
–Some congenitally deaf adults decide to receive a CI before they become a parent so they can hear their child.
–A 10 month old baby in the U.S. and a 10 month old baby in the Japan response to the same sounds. After age 1, the Japan baby cannot hear certain sounds that is found in the English language. Babies’ brains are completely undifferentiated until age 12-14 months when some areas of the brain becomes dedicated to recognizing certain sounds.
–It could take 2-4 years for a deaf adult to understand what they’re hearing after being implanted. It’s a VERY demanding process since it requires reshaping of brain connections.
–You can tell if a person could hear in their first 4 years of life based upon their speech patterns.
–The implanted ear might actually be a good candidate for stem cell regeneration due to the auditory nerve being active. CIs do not damage nerves, just hair cells which could mean that stem cell restoration might be okay in the implanted ear. (There’s a lot of conflicting theories about this).
–The CI incision used to be 6 inches long but now it’s 1.5 inches long.
FRIDAY, JUNE 18TH
–A hearing aid company is exploring including zen chime music/tones in their HAs to reduce daily life stress.
–Should we disclose our hearing loss during job interviews?
I didn’t take a lot of notes this day even though there was a lot of helpful information. This is when I started getting to know other young adults a bit better. A bunch of us went out for dinner and then met up later on at a bar near the RiverWalk. I decided I wanted to see a bit more of Milwaukee since Dennis and I couldn’t get tickets to the Harley Davidson museum event. We took a walk to Lake Michigan where we discovered a firework show going on. It was awesome being 50 feet away from fireworks being set off while it was lightning nearby. I could actually hear the sizzle when they lit each firework. Let me tellya, it scared me being able to hear the fireworks….especially that close! I love being able to hear, feel, and see something all at once!
SATURDAY, JUNE 19TH
I ran a 5K in the morning at the zoo. I was a bit annoyed because I couldn’t follow anything that was going on. There were 2,000 people registered for the run and no way I could get near enough to lipread the instructions for the run. The run and walk were supposed to start at the same time but with different routes. I ended up following a large group of people (because I didn’t see anyone go anywhere else) and found myself with the walking group. I couldn’t turn around and go back since there were too many people heading in the same direction. I was so frustrated because I had missed out on such an important information when I thought I had reviewed the map and schedule thoroughly the night before to avoid something like this. I was ready to bail and head back to the hotel when I happened to go around a curve and saw the very last group of runners passing us by. I stepped out and waited until the volunteers weren’t watching and sneaked into the last runner’s group. I actually ended up running about 3 of the 3.1 miles and finished it in about 27 minutes according to my pedometer. My official time ended up being around 35 minutes because of the confusion that had occurred.
–The CI process is a relearning how to hear process. My question with this comment has always been…what if a person never heard before?
–There was an interesting lecture that touched on auditory confusion which is something I believe happens to me and is why I can’t hear certain things even though my audiogram suggests I should be able to (e.g. sirens). An example that was given was that there are neurons dedicated to certain types of inputs (e.g. low frequency input neurons, mid frequency input neurons, and high frequency input neurons). When a person loses hearing in the high frequency range those high frequency input neurons start responding to mid frequency inputs. When that person gets a hearing aid, the mid frequency neurons will gradually start to respond to the high frequency inputs again. It takes time for the neuron to reorganization. The process of reorganization is called acclimating.
–I loved how the CART captioners included everything they were hearing even if it was just a dog barking.
–There were a lot of people who decorated their CIs/HAs with stickers and other decorative items.
–Auditory/aural training is like brain training. Your ear is the window to the brain. You do NOT hear with your ear, you hear with your brain.
The young adults were invited to a comedy club where CART was provided. It was such an awesome evening filled with laughter and smiles.
SUNDAY, JUNE 20TH
We all were exhausted by Sunday but were able to make it to the awards breakfast before heading to the airport.
Talking about babies and hearing and language… I learned this weekend that 1.5 year old Maddie Tisdale was taught to sign words by her daycare provider before she could talk. Her parents say that it was so much less frustrating for her to have a way to explain what she was crying about. Now she can say just as many words as she can sign. Watch her at the wedding… in loud situations with lots of people she'll sign a word before she'll speak it. It's just amazing to me that kids understand language before they have the physical ability to talk.