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Eh, sonny?

I've come to the realization that I am hard of hearing. It's not as bad as when I was a kid; I was so hard of hearing as a kid that at some points I was practically deaf. I remember using a device in school one year that was essentially a hearing-aid, so I could hear the teachers.

When I was a kid, this difficulty hearing was due to constant earaches, stuffed up sinuses, and clogged ear cavities. I was almost always sick with a cold or somesuch, to varying degrees. As an adult, I'm now rarely sick. I never get earaches anymore, and am almost never stuffed up. So I'm not sure why I'm still hard of hearing.

Until recently, I thought it was just my brain being weird. And there IS an element of that to it; when I'm immersed fully in what I'm doing, even when I hear someone talking to me then, I'll hear it as indistinct noises; plainly speech, but completely unintelligible. I might catch a word or two if I'm lucky. I used to think I could hear people fine while on the computer, but now I realize I got that impression while living with Lilla, and she would always unintentionally get my attention before speaking to me at the computer, usually by opening the door, or from her loud footsteps. Plus, the door was to my left front, it was hard not to see her if the door was open. But Brooke (kengr) is another matter. At her place, I'm often faced away from her while we're at our respective computers. And she has this bad habit of talking at me when my attention is clearly elsewhere, not even waiting for me to give an indication that I'm listening before going on. Then she gets annoyed with me when I finally realize she was talking at me and turn around to say "What?" Like she thinks that talking loudly (IE, normal speech as opposed to whispering) is enough to make me realize she's taling to me. Which is silly, because even if it worked that way, it takes my brain a second or two to switch gears. So even assuming that I immediately realized she was talking to me, in the time it would take my brain to switch gears, I might miss the first third or half of the sentence, losing a lot of information. What she needs to do is say "Hey Fay!" and wait for me to turn to face her before continuing. Or at least glance at her.

But also, I'm just plain hard of hearing. Brooke plays music and TV at a level she considers to be a loud volume, and I can barely hear it. Hard to make out words a lot when I can't hear them. And phones; I can rarely hear anything anyone says on a phone at normal volume, even if the rest of the room is as quiet as possible. To use the phone at normal volume, I have to push the phone hard against my right ear (I hear better out my right side) and put my finger in my left ear and concentrate really hard on what they're saying. I frequently use the loudspeaker function on my cell phone when I can to be able to hear better. In fact, if the area I'm in is loud enough, like outside by a busy road, and I'm making a phone call, you'd have a safe bet betting that I not only would have the loudspeaker function on, but would have the phone a mere inch or inch and a half from my ear to be able to hear it.

And no, the cause isn't loud music. Even at my hardest of hearing I never had the volume up too high. Hell, I used to listen to Godsmack at such a low volume I'd fall asleep to it. I rarely ever used headphones, still use them moderately infrequently, and always keep the volume to the softest I can and still be able to hear it. I can think of only one time when I had the volume up on earphones really high, and I was in a weird frame of mind at the time.

I don't know why I'm hard of hearing. Maybe the constant earaches and clogged ear passages as a child left permanent damage? *Ponders*

Using the "little girl in rain" icon even though it doesn't fit because I like it and it doesn't get used enough.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
It sounds like you could benefit from a referral to an audiologist - all those childhood infections may have caused a hearing impairment. Also there are some meds that can be a cause. By the way, that thing you used was likely a personal FM system. My son has been using them for something like 15 years now.

It's possible though that you have had a minor impairment for a long time that was masked by autism. A lot of times autism looks like hearing impairment in just the way you described. A lot of times it goes with an auditory processing disorder too.

Difficulty hearing music or on the phone suggest actual impairment, while difficulty understanding what someone is saying when you are hyperfocused elsewhere is more likely autism-related.

Either way it would be really helpful if people around would consistently get your attention to allow you to shift to a listening mode (that likely includes unconscious speech-reading).

I am not REALLY an expert, but my nearly 18 year old was diagnosed with a moderate to profound hearing impairment 17 years ago. I have a few autistic friends as well.

My son wears hearing aids and is a champion speech reader, but we always:
Touch him (I know, normally not so good for Autists) or say 'Hey!' and then pause a second before we speak to him.
Face him.
When we do need to repeat, we try to repeat the same way (no rephrasing), that seems to help with processing.
We all nearly unconsciously stage where we sit so that we never have our backs to windows while talking to him.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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