As we head into the holiday season, we here at Hearing Loss LIVE! know that those little kid voices are some of the first sounds we lose. And they also maybe a child we only see a couple of times a year so getting to know their speech and lips - that let's be honest change drastically - is a challenge.
Join us today as we talk what has helped us. Share with your hearing friends and family with little kiddos so that they too can help with better communication.
Video Podcast can be found on our YouTube page: https://youtu.be/g78P03HisdQ
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Hearing Loss, LIVE! talks, hearing loss and understanding small voices.
Julia: Hello, and welcome to Hearing Loss LIVE! Today we're going to talk about hearing loss and understanding those kiddos and our grandkids and all of those teeny tiny voices that are so hard to understand. I'm going to start today's podcast by apologizing. I have all the dogs in the room with me. And the minute I pick up a microphone, they like to wrestle so you might hear some grumbling sounds, and I apologize ahead of time. Hopefully it doesn't turn into war, but we never know. Right? I would like to have Michele Linder start. She's got some great advice on ideas on how she handles her grandkids. And then I'm going to give some hearing pointers that you can do as you're hearing family members with your kids to help with, especially the holidays, and your grandparents or that aunt and uncle you haven't seen for a long time. Michele, can you go ahead and get us started.
Michele: Thank you, Julia. Kids are especially challenging. And you know, I had a lot more hearing when my own children were small. And though I did struggle at times, and a lot of different situations, I think I was able to communicate with my own children a lot more than I am now. And it can be a struggle, but I'm kind of unique in that I was kind of hardwired to lipread, and I'm a very flexible communicator, just because that's how I grew up. And so I worked as a preschool teacher for seven years. And I found that the kids who had unclear speech, or they maybe had some behavioral problems that caused them to not speak in a direct way, or to be kind of confrontational, I always seem to be able to connect with those kids. Whereas, some of the hearing teachers were a little bit more challenged. So having a hearing loss, and being a flexible, flexible communicator can actually be a benefit, and a good thing. Now that I have grandchildren, and I'm profound, it was very hard for me to hear my granddaughter when she started speaking. When you have a typical ski slope loss, you lose those high frequencies. And it's the high frequencies that make speech clear for those those little voices and high pitched voices. So right away, when my granddaughter started talking, I began to instruct her on how to talk to me as a lipreader. And I'll give you this is a little story that I like to tell, but I went back and read it because I wrote about it in a SayWhatClub blog years ago, and I had forgotten about the first part of the story. I used to take my granddaughter to library story time every week, and she would spend the day with me and then come home with me and spend the night. And in the car I always made sure that I could see her in my rearview mirror when she was in her car seat. And so my husband had given her a flashlight. I had never seen it before. She must have left it in my car. So she's holding up a flashlight, and she said, "This flashlight turns blank." I couldn't hear what that was. So I'm like, okay, the flashlight turns on. The flashlight turns off. Nothing was fitting in that blank. And so I said, "Okay, I am not hearing that last word. So can you describe that word for me?" And she said, "This flashlight turns green, the color green." And because she said the color green. I got it. I had never seen the flashlight before. I had no idea turned green. So had I known that I probably could have gotten that word. So we're driving after story time. And we're both hungry. And so we're talking again on the car. And so I asked her you know, what do you have for breakfast because I haven't had lunch either. So we need to go for lunch but what what did you have for breakfast and she said "I had one egg, three slices of bacon and a blank." I thought she said bagel, but she said no, not bagel. I said, "Okay, I'm not hearing that." And so I could see her back there, the little wheels in her head turning. And she said "I had a mango, it's a piece of fruit." And I got it right away, because bagel, mango kind of look the same, not really, but kind of. And so it was just a real fun moment to see that she remembered that from earlier in the morning. And that's kind of how we've learned to communicate with each other. Now that she's on school, I don't see her as much. And so she forgets a lot of the ways that she needs to communicate with me, because she's not around me as much. She's actually getting a life of her own, which really, is kind of a problem for me, because I miss her. [laughing] So anyway, so we have to find other ways to communicate. And that's kind of how hearing loss is. What works now might not work tomorrow, or two years from now. So when the pandemic started, her parents were having a problem with theirwork schedules, and online remote learning. And it was, I mean, they wouldn't be home at the times that they would need to do online school. So Ayla came to stay with me for 15 days, so that I could help her get into a good routine. And as a third grader, she was old enough that she could keep herself on schedule, she just needed a little direction. So she quarantine and we you know, we kept our distance through like the first 11 days. But she talks a lot faster now that she's older. And she's pretty good to look at me and get my attention, but she just was talking a lot faster. So I started using Otter and Ava on my phone, when we would sit down to have a conversation or when I wasn't getting a word or phrase or a sentence, she was saying, I would turn Otter, the speech-to-text apps on my phone on and I could get help that way. And she actually thought it was really cool. So she started testing me. And we actually kind of made it into kind of a game. So your communication needs are constantly evolving. And when you have a relationship with a kid you can work on that. What really throws me are the kids that I don't know, and I'm not I'm not around a lot, I have a real hard time with Chelle's grandson, Chase. I have a hard time understanding him. And it makes me feel really bad when I'm visiting and he's there that I can't understand them because I want to. And it didn't even occur to me to use my speech-to-text app with him when I was there. Because I was so stressed that I couldn't hear him. I wasn't thinking straight. But you know, kids are hard, but there's always a way around, especially if though your grandkids or your kids and you're around them all the time, you have an opportunity to mold them to fill the needs that you have for communication.
Julia: Thank you, Michele. I've talked in the past how I accidentally taught my boys to communicate with their grandmother. And now I'm going to go into my bath time thoughts. It never fails. I take my shower, and I'm like, Oh yeah, that's a good point. Oh, yeah, that's a good point. So I'm gonna have to get Otter into the shower, figure out how it can be waterproof. But as a hearing person realizing, you know, one, being taught don't say never mind, it really is hurtful. And, and grandmas and grandpas, or that Uncle you see once a month or aunt who might have a hearing loss or whatever, really want to interact and get to know your kids. Right? So there's some simple things. I think even-- like, you know, the boys were a little older when I had to start teaching them. You know, look at grandma, make sure she can see your lips. Don't tell her never mind if if you want to talk to her talk to her. Get her attention. If she holds, you know, she used to do a thing where she put her hand on one of the kids and say now say that again and make sure she was looking at them and they would make sure they looked at her. And I started thinking what what do you do when you have just that little kiddo who's learning to talk? And there's some simple things because you can't, you can say oh, look at grandma, but when you're two and three, you're going to remember that for what like two words. But there are some little things that I think I actually did and didn't even realize I was doing. Things like, put the child on my lap next to grandma, and help facilitate making sure that they kept looking in when when the communication was breaking down, helping with that communication, so that they could interact. And I do think it's so important, and people don't realize just those little, little moments mean so much to them. Um, So you can do little things like that. Another one, and then you know, we're at the Christmas time, so maybe think about it, Pocket Talker type situation or Bluetooth. You've got the Otter app, a microphone on your on your cell phone that you can use, while you're talking at the dinner table. And use Otter or Ava, where everybody's got their cell phone and talking and listening and reading. Older eyes, sometimes that's a little harder. So maybe a pocket talker is better. With a little loop where they can, you know, pass it around to the family members. That might be a good Christmas gift. Think about it. There's just there's a couple of different things you can try. And then and again, hearing loss changes, we know that so as time changes some of those, those rules and what you teach, but I think the most important part is teaching your kiddos and grandkids, how to interact with that person so that they're not like, I don't want to interact with them, they're gonna say weird things, or whatever it is. That's a whole other podcast in itself, someday I might talk about, but it allows for that interaction and that person, especially if they're elderly, that is really important to them, right? That that time with, I don't have grandkids, so I can only base off what I taught my kids to deal with their grandmother. But now my son, who is a physical therapist aide works in a center, a long term care center, and that, that knowledge he learned has gone with him to the care center. Whether they have a hearing loss or not, he's meeting that person where their needs are. And I'm sorry, I'm gonna take credit whether he thinks so or not, I don't know. I don't care. But I'm taking credit that that was teaching him how to deal with people and specifically hearing loss. It just it's something that they take with them into adulthood in my opinion. Okay, that's enough rambling. Chelle any thoughts?
Chelle: Yes, I can talk. I think. I hope I can today [laughing]. Some days roll better than others, right? So as Michele was saying, you know, my kids were with me 24/7. They only ever knew me with a hearing loss. And when they're around you that much, you know how to predict what they're gonna say or anticipate certain things. You know how they're gonna talk, and you're used to lipreading them. So a lot of times, I'd say they were my little translators, which is weird, because I'd be in like this coffee shop bakery that had horrible acoustics. And I couldn't understand the grown woman who was trying to talk to me and ask me questions. So I would a turn to the kid and say, like, what she say [laughing], you know, and it's odd to me when I think about it, that I understood my kids over that lady. But now that I know about lipreading habits and stuff, it's not weird. I know my kids. So the kids would occasionally hit words that I couldn't hear, those, you know that the brain got stuck. And as Michele mentioned with her granddaughter, you know, I'd be like, Okay, I'm stuck on this word, you need to find another word just like it. So, just like Michele, you see their little brains working to come up with the word. And they usually did and I think this made my kids actually better communicators. And I'll take some of the credit for that just like Julia said. [laughing] So now I have grandkids and I'm not around them all the time. I might see them, especially right now with you know the COVID then going up and all of that, we kind of stick to ourselves. But we visit probably once a month. In fact it's my grandson's birthday today. He's 11 [laughing]. And as Michele said, Chase is very hard to understand, and it's because he's so active. He's, he's bouncing around all the time, he doesn't sit still very well. So when they were little, I, he would say something, and I would look at his mom. And she's my kid, I know her, I know how she talks and all of that. So his mom would be the translator for me. And that's how we worked with it until they got a little bit older. And now we're actively working with them on facing and me because the boys are eleven, and five now. So, you know, we kind of stop them and hold them still. And you got to face me, you have to face me. So they're getting the hang of that. But I think when my brain is tired, I just, I can't connect no matter what. So Otter and Ava are going to be my new best friend because I can't understand. They want to communicate. I need to make it easier. Not have a parent as a translator, because I think you know, Chase, he really wants to tell things just to me. And when I invited him out to talk to have a parent translate, he just like, he's not gonna say a thing. So Darn it, I really missed that. And I should have broken out my app. And I will think of that from now on. I've thought of it in the past for like restaurants and stuff and whip it out at grocery stores. But it didn't occur to me to do that in my personal life with my kids, but I'm gonna start now.
Julia: I'd love to know how that goes, if you could report back, Michele?
Michele: You know, I was just thinking as I was talking about Chase, in the beginning, I think when you have time one on one with a kid, and there's nobody else around to step in, you have a better opportunity to work out your communication issues. And I think if I spent a day with just me and Chase, I think we probably could stumble upon a good way to communicate. And I've done that with other kids. My niece's son, Ben, he was maybe four at the time when I met him. And he has a really deep voice. So I actually can understand him a little bit better, even though I don't hear many low tones. But I heard a little bit of his voice as he was speaking. And he's a very intense, deliberate speaker. And so my visit there for the weekend, I, we really kind of got into the groove with communication. But it never feels good when you want so bad to communicate with a kid and you just can't get what they're saying. And I always feel so terrible when I can't understand them. Because a lot of times they don't understand. And so I've given up apologizing for my hearing loss. But when it's a kid, I always say "I'm sorry, sweetie, I really want to hear what you're saying. But I just can't." And they're usually too little to use any other kind of thing. They can't write, read or write yet, so they can't write to me. And so you do kind of look to other people to fill in for you when they're around. But if they're not around, it's almost heartbreaking that you can't communicate with someone that you want to, especially when it's a little kid.
Chelle: Yeah, and Michele just reminded me of a few more things or while she was talking other things popped into my head [laughing]. So we had Chase over, I don't know some time over the summer and he stayed the night with his brother. And at some point, he said, I'm going to go outside and that's all I heard. And I was, I kind of nodded my head because I think I was fussing with Riley a little bit trying to do a breakfast thing or something. And so I go outside and Chase had let the chickens out. And I don't know why. He just wanted to let the chickens out and the garden was right there. Luckily he opened a door the chickens don't normally go out so nothing happened. But you know, that's not anything I could get mad at Chase for because I'm pretty sure he said, I'm going to go outside and let the chickens out. And I didn't take the time to process or make him stop and tell me everything. So that's my bad. And the other night when Chase wanted to tell me something and couldn't get it across to me. I was talking to him later and telling him about how, you know, I couldn't wait for him to hit puberty actually now it sounds bad, but, you know, the voice changes. And this made a huge difference with all three of my kids. Like I could finally tell the boys apart from Shandell. And I said when you're, when you get older, and you hit puberty, and I'll be able to understand you better. So he turned to his mom goes "What's puberty mom?" And I was like oops!
Julia: Somebody had to bring it up, right? He's 11 [laughing]. My, my old-- my middle child, my older son is is a mumbler. So none of us can understand him. But he was always very good, well he mumbled, but when grandma would say now what did you just say? He would look at her and he would repeat it. And it was probably something inappropriate if I had to guess. Doesn't fall far from the tree with that. I had a question. Oh lipreading on on smaller children. Is that more difficult and I probably am asking Michele and Chelle's nodding her head. And not that we can train them. But just so people understand how difficult that is, can one of you talk to that?
Michele: Um, it really depends on the kid. I mean, a lot of young children struggle with clear speech, they might have a lisp or where they might have to go to speech therapy, even if they don't have a hearing loss. Just teaching preschool, I saw a lot of kids that had speech impediments. So it is harder to understand younger kids, sometimes, but really, it's subjective, it depends on on the kids. Some young, younger kids are very articulate, and very good speakers. And so there are always ways you can instruct them. And so I think it's that instruction and that demonstrating the ways like with my granddaughter, I need to describe that word that I can't hear. Because, you know, there is no other word for green. But telling me it was a color, I could put the two and two together. Lipreading you connect clues in your brain. And that's how you lipread. It's not all on the lips. It's not all hearing the audible sound. It's not all lip shapes. And that it's just putting things together. So the more clues they can give you. And so it's up to you, as a person with hearing loss, especially if you're a lipreader, to tell them what helps you. They want to know. They want to communicate with you. And so it's your job to tell them and demonstrate that. No matter how old they are.
Chelle: I think the biggest challenge, whether it's kids or adults, is just getting people to face us. That is half the battle right there.
Michele: That's true. That's one issue I have with Chase. He's always looking around and his his, he's always moving. And that for lipreaders is just torture. You can't follow it. And not that that's negative about him at all. He's a great kid, I've just really felt bad or not being bad about not being able to communicate with him well. But that comes into play if the kids really active and can't sit still, that really kind of is a big thing that wrecks communication. Because they have to be able to face you and look you in the eye when they're talking to you.
Julia: That's really good advice, I think. And so, those kiddos that you have that are a little more active than others and how to help help help facilitate that. Though I love that your grandson wants to talk to just you and I I'm just so excited to see how that goes. Chelle?
Chelle: I was gonna say some husbands are kind of active and hard to lipread too. [laughing]
Though, he and I get along just fine in that [laughing]. We can randomly talk about anything. [laughing] Any more thoughts before we close up?
Michele: I just want to encourage everyone to make the effort to communicate with kids and, and tell them exactly what you need. And, and you may not know what you need, but make them part of the solutions. Tell them how can we work on this together so that we can communicate better. Kids always want to help you.
Julia: That is really good advice. And you're right. Because when you go to your kids or your grandkids and say, okay, here's the problem, how do we solve it and they get to think about it too. I think it makes them feel very important and involved. And again, makes them want to communicate more with you. So that's a really good advice. We hope this helps you this holiday season with those little voices that you're gonna have so much fun seeing in person, we hope. Next week, we are going to talk to you about loops and telecoil. If you have a telecoil and you know what's looped? Shoot us an email and let us know in your town who's looped there are buildings or businesses or theaters. And if you don't have a telecoil and you were told you don't need it because you don't have a landline maybe. Maybe come and visit us so you can know why it's important to let your audiologist know you'd like that telecoil in your in your hearing aids. We hope you have a great holiday season. Look forward to seeing you guys next week. Thanks for joining.
Join us next week when we talk loops and telecoils.