Kids with hearing loss | Featured bloggers
During the month of September, Healthy Hearing will be featuring different bloggers in the hearing loss community. From those across the ocean to parents of children with hearing loss, we'll take a closer look at some of the top blogs and resources available to you!
Raising children is a continual learning experience, but first-time parents have an infinite number of sources to turn to for tips, advice, research and personal anecdotes. For parents raising children with hearing loss, however, the resources are relatively few. But in recent years, a community of parent bloggers has developed to fill that void, providing the type of support and guidance so many parents seek.
These bloggers are learning as they go, sharing their fears, their confusion, their lessons and their funny stories. On these blogs you can find a mentor, someone who is going through the same challenges you and your child are facing.
Kristen Johnson is one such parent and blogger, the author of No Small Thing. The title comes from a Charles Dickens quote that applies to her children: “It is no small thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” On her blog, Johnson shares the trials of accepting her son Henry’s disability, how she and other hearing loss parents define “disability,” and embarrassing stories about eating boogers (and sharing it with the whole store).
By starting No Small Thing, Johnson wanted to help answer the everyday questions families have learning to live with a hearing impairment. “What I found when my son was diagnosed was that there was very little information available about what it is like to have a child with hearing loss, she writes. “What is a typical day like? What are the painful things you go through? What are the triumphs? I wanted to know what it was going to be like, what it was going to feel like…but there was no one to tell me.”
Group blogs have also started popping up, bringing together parents and children around the world. Karen Putz, whom you may remember from one of our recent profiles, heads up the blog for Hands & Voices, curating stories from the young as well as the seasoned. Putz founded the Illinois chapter in 2004, and believes in the power of the blog as a form of guidance and reassurance for those new to the hearing loss community.
"I think the most powerful way to help people is sharing stories," Putz said. “The one thing that really connects us is our stories. We love hearing what other people are doing, their successes, their struggles, and we learn from them.”
For children in particular, who are growing up not knowing anyone else with hearing aids, the effect can be significant. “For deaf and hard of hearing (HOH) kids, when they come across stories written about other deaf and HOH kids they realize they’re not alone,” Putz said. “There’s someone else out there going through the same thing.”
Putz is completely immersed in the world of hearing loss, since she herself is hearing-impaired. Hearing loss runs in her family, and her husband and all three of her children have hearing impairments as well. Putz is a natural source of inspiration for anyone needing a little encouragement; as an advocate and motivational speaker, she is a constant presence in the hearing loss community. She has even featured her own children on her blog, including her daughter Lauren, whose video “Confidence: being deaf in a hearing world” is a fantastic message to deaf and HOH teenagers everywhere.
“I started recognizing my deafness as a part of me that I love and that I’m willing to share with people,” Lauren says in her video. “People responded well to me being open with myself. People didn’t respond well to me hiding being deaf. And people didn’t respond well to me trying to act like I was normal. You’re never going to find that sense of belonging trying to hide who you are.”
Lauren is proof that sometimes the best teachers for your kids are the kids themselves.
“Recognize that whatever makes you different makes you an individual,” Lauren says, “and not a mindless, cookie-cutter robot.”