One on one with the lip reading mom | Featured author
During the month of September, Healthy Hearing is featuring an author who published a book about hearing loss every Friday! Last Friday we interviewed Regan Brady, author of Listening to the Waves.
Author Shanna Groves has had a lifelong battle trying to accept her hearing loss. At the age of six she had her hearing tested because of school struggles. After being told her hearing was fine she just wasn't listening or focusing enough, Groves spent the rest of her life thinking her problem communicating was just that - her problem.
It wasn't until her first child was born that she reconsidered the notion that something might be bereft with her hearing. Shortly after giving birth Groves found herself suffering from tinnitus. The constant ringing and buzzing Groves was suffering from prompted her to make an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional for the second time in her life.
"The hearing test revealed that I had a 'ski slope' hearing loss - I could hear fine in the lower frequencies but that I had profound loss in the high frequencies," said Groves. "Once the hearing loss was diagnosed, it took two more years for me to fully accept that it was my ears - not my brain - that made listening such a challenge."
She was fitted with her first set of hearing aids in 2003 but found them uncomfortable and clunky, so she resolved to only use them when necessary. However, once her child began talking she realized how much she was really missing out on. In 2008 she was fit with a pair of behind-the-ear open ear hearing aids and loved them so much she wore them virtually all day, "I felt naked without them," Groves said.
Now, a wife and mother with three children, Groves has had to learn how to make it easier for her family to communicate.
"If I don't physically see my children, I can't 'hear' them. In the car while driving, I find conversations with them difficult without a visual aid. Watching them speak through the rearview mirror helps, but I have to remember to stay focused on the road," she said. "The best environment for conversations is one-on-one. I do better with understanding my husband and children if they speak to me one at a time, facing me, with very little background noise."
When Groves isn't chasing after her children, she's working on her writing. She started her blog, Lipreading Mom, two years ago and has published two books, Lip Reader and Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom.
"My first book, Lip Reader, tells the story of a fictional family dealing with genetic hearing loss. The story is loosely based on my own family. Genetic hearing loss can be traced back several generations on my family's paternal side," Groves said. "I wrote the first book to explore my family's hearing loss history and to make peace with my own hearing loss."
Four years after publishing her first novel, Groves followed it up with her memoir, Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom, a collection of her experiences throughout her life. She said she wants Confessions to help other individuals with hearing loss to accept their own.
"I hope that readers will take away from the book that hearing loss is a big deal, but it's not a deal-breaker. Once the loss is accepted, it is learning to live with what you still have," said Groves. "For me, that is a loving husband and three children, my parents and extended family, amazing friends, writing and speaking. Hearing loss is part of who a person is; it's not all that person is."
In addition to raising her children, writing her blog and penning novels, Groves has started two different campaigns to help individuals with hearing loss stand up and embrace their condition.
Show Me Your Ears is a campaign which calls for people to submit photos of themselves wearing their hearing aids or cochlear implants. It allows users to show off their hearing devices in a fun, unique and proud way. Groves already has more than 200 photos dotting the site for this campaign.
Her second campaign, Stop Hearing Loss Bullying, is a video calling for action in everyday life and on social media to end bullying because of our differences.
"People in schools, the workplace and community deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity, regardless of their hearing ability. In the video, a dozen people with hearing loss and deafness share their stories of discrimination at school and work because they couldn't hear 100 percent," Groves said. "The campaign's message is: Hearing loss bullying ends with you and me."