See how hearing aids, support and love from family and friends helped Clare thrive with hearing loss.
Twenty-year-old Clare lives in Cheshire with her parents and struggled through primary and secondary school due to not being diagnosed with hearing loss earlier on in her life. Clare has always been aware of hearing loss and was drawn to British Sign Language (BSL) in her teens, so she started to teach herself whilst in high school,
“I think it was my bodies way of trying to tell me that I’m hard of hearing”
Clare initially didn’t know precisely when her hearing loss started, but her audiologist thought that perhaps it may have been while she was in her mother’s womb or at birth. Before being diagnosed she felt like there was something missing and so did her family as, within conversations, information was missed.
“Before I wore hearing aids, I struggled socially and making new friendships. Everything was muffled around me, but I just thought everyone heard like that – so I didn’t question it. Everything changed when I got a hearing test and discovered I had a dip in my hearing”
Clare decided upon receiving her hearing test results that it was important to take further action – so she contacted her local audiologist to arrange an appointment. It was there that she was diagnosed with moderate high-frequency hearing loss and in March 2019 – she was given hearing aids for both ears.
“The audiologist I met that day completely changed my life and I am so grateful for the help and support I was given”
Since then Clare has received continuous support from family, close friends and tutors at her college – which have been such a blessing and vital support system to help her to thrive as she has done during her studies.
Clare believes that hearing loss awareness is where it all begins and for people to speak out about their hearing loss like she is doing here. This way people can gain an education about different types of hearing loss to help eradicate stigmas and misconceptions, as well as inspire those who think they might have hearing loss to act.
She also thinks that those with or without hearing loss could positively benefit from seeing more deaf and hard of hearing people represented in the media - to promote awareness, inspiration, and inclusivity.
“My Mam & Dad have always been there for me through thick and thin. And as I grow older my appreciation deepens as I know it was hard for them. The support from friends and tutors at college is something I will never forget – I owe it all to you!”
Those who wear hearing aids know that it takes time to adapt to new hearing aids, especially if they are first-time wearers. They may not be perfect right away, if you’ve had untreated hearing loss for some time it could take a while for your brain to get used to noise again. During this time support from your audiologist, family, friends, tutor or work is essential.
“Family and friends learning basic BSL and taking my preferences into consideration really made the difference when I was still adapting to my hearing aids, and even now the small and simple things can still be effective and can greatly make a difference. Due to my hearing loss journey, I personally believe an individual will thrive when family and friends are there to support them”
Clare’s quality of life and hearing aids enable her to maintain an active lifestyle and social life. Her love of kickboxing has given her the freedom to express herself these last few years, as well as being a positive role model to young adults like herself with hearing loss.
Within just five years, she has now been awarded her brown belt – a great achievement that she and her family are proud of.
“I got my brown belt in November last year, which I worked hard to get, and I'm working up to get my black belt. Despite my circumstances regarding my hearing loss and getting hearing aids which were 14 years too late - I try to make the best of my situation and keep a positive mindset”
Clare is passionate about meeting more people with hearing loss and is dedicated to helping raise awareness in the future within the hearing-impaired community. Due to her own personal hearing loss journey and how simply hearing better has enriched her life, she wishes to outreach those who think they might have hearing loss to get a simple hearing test as she did.
“My most memorable moment, while on my hearing loss journey, was getting to hear my Mam from behind me while I was coming back from my 3rd audiology appointment. I have also put charms onto my hearing aids, which always get compliments and questions!”
The sooner you get help and advice about your hearing loss, and get hearing aids, the easier it will be to get used to them.
Early intervention will also prevent further hearing difficulties by ensuring that the hearing nerves and auditory cortex are used to their full potential.
“This has been an amazing journey, which I’m glad I decided to embark on. I have developed more and I can see my growth from where I was to where I am now. This may be a positive end to this chapter of my story, but it wasn't a smooth one, there were many bumps in the road to get to this point in my life and there will be many more to come”
Clare teaches us that hearing loss shouldn’t be a barrier to communication, shouldn’t stop you from sharing your journey, enjoying a hobby, or being the reason why you don’t have the confidence to connect and thrive just like everybody else.
We would like to thank Clare for taking the time to talk to us about her own journey, her challenges and her achievements so far. We've loved getting to know this inspirational young woman who is bringing such a positive message to both the hearing impaired community and beyond - just by sharing.
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