Student discusses living with a hearing impairment

Junior Miranda Miller has worn a hearing aid since she was three. Miller went to a school designed specifically for the deaf before transfering to a traditional school in kindergarten. “My mom told me she wanted me to be in an environment where kids are actually speaking,” Miller said. “She didn’t want me to go to an actual deaf school for the rest of my life.”

By Baylee Owen

Junior Miranda Miller has worn a hearing aid since she was three. Miller went to a school designed specifically for the deaf before transfering to a traditional school in kindergarten. “My mom told me she wanted me to be in an environment where kids are actually speaking,” Miller said. “She didn’t want me to go to an actual deaf school for the rest of my life.”

Connor Oswald, JagWire reporter

Junior Miranda Miller shares about life with hearing aids

Could you describe your hearing loss?

It’s partial; I would say about 40 percent is all I could hear without hearing aids. Hearing aids make me hear around 100 percent, but there are no exact numbers.

When did your hearing loss start? 

It started when I was three due to an infection I got because I [was born with] omphalocele – when you are born without any skin on a certain body part. For me it was my stomach, which is pretty gross. And  three years later I got a bad infection. The antibiotics they used [for the infection] killed my hearing.

How difficult is it to take care of your hearing aids?

They aren’t that hard to take care of, I just have to make sure  they don’t get wet. There are some sacrifices I have made for having hearing aids, like pool parties, playing Marco-Polo – I suck at that- and when I’m on roller coasters I have to take them out because [roller coasters] shake your head around so much that they’ll fall out. That has happened twice. There is a lot of weird stuff I have to do to make sure they don’t get broken or anything.

Have you ever broken your hearing aids?

There was one time – I have a lake house at the Lake of the Ozarks – I had my hearing aids in a little plastic cup that was supposed to have a lid on it. I was eight and I saw a wasp and I went running and [my hearing aids] fell out, and by the time I got off the dock they were gone. Then three years later when the water was really low, I was playing on our beach and I found them again. We put them in a case and now they are sitting at the lake [house].

There was one time I got in a car accident and they flew out of my ears. I was eight, I think it was the same summer. They flew out of my ears. My parents had coffee and they spilled on the hearing aids. But since then, I take good care of them.

What is the biggest impact the hearing loss has had on your life?

School is where they have had the biggest impact. I have to sit in the front row in almost every class. I have to bring in a thing called an FM Transmitter. [The FM transmitter] is pretty much a microphone that the teacher wears and it goes straight to my hearing aid, and that’s all I hear for 90 percent of the class. All I can hear is the teacher’s voice for the entire class time, unless I turn it off to talk to someone else.

In school, I would say lunch is the worst time for me because it is so loud and everyone is trying to talk to me at once.

What about having loss has surprised you?

When I first got mine I realized that I have to turn the radio up a lot louder than other people. I can’t really go through drive-thrus; I found out I suck at them. I have to have my mom with me ordering it if I’m driving.

There weren’t a lot of surprises. I guess when I first got my laptop I was surprised to find that video calling is a lot easier than I thought it would be. I already knew a lot of what was going to happen.

How do people normally react when you tell them you are hearing-impaired?

They are usually really surprised, because I hide it really well. But sometimes I forget to tell people at [school] that I am, until the next day and they’re like “oh my gosh.” And because I have long hair and I can speak clearly, even though I have a [slight] accent, [people can’t tell I’m hearing impaired].

Nobody can tell me what type of [accent] it is. Some people say it is a type of lisp that creates it. Actually, a few weeks ago when I was watching TV they were interviewing a deaf person and I found out what I sound like for the first time. Most people when they do not know the accent ask where I am from, and when I tell them I’m deaf they’re like, ‘Oh.’ Then after that I ask, “Where did you think I’m from?” and I’ve gotten so many random answers, the common one was Germany and then Italy. Even a foreign exchange student that I met awhile back asked, “Are you from where I’m from?”

But I’ve kind of forgotten to tell a lot of people that I am deaf – it wasn’t even on my mind – and when I bring in the microphone to class, that’s how they are going to find out.

Are there any silver linings to your hearing loss?

I can read lips. I can pretty much look across a room and see the conversation. I’m very good with body language, so I can tell if a person does not want me to talk to them. My old friend used to use [my ability to read body language] to tell if a guy liked her or not. Half of the time it was no. I am a really fast reader, from the subtitles on TV.

There are some benefits, but there are more negatives.

What are some interesting experiences you have had because of the hearing aids?

About the FM microphone, well, teachers forget to turn it off when they go to the bathroom and if the bathroom [is] really close to the classroom, I can hear it. In fifth grade everyone realized that I could hear it when a teacher came back to the room. So when [the teacher] would leave, the class would go crazy and they would be asking me if [the teacher was] coming back. Because when [the teacher would] get close enough to where I am the [FM microphone] automatically turns on.

The teachers would also forget to turn off the microphone when they were disciplining students and I could hear the teacher cuss. At Shawnee Mission Northwest a student and a teacher were related and they were gossiping about another student in class and I could hear everything. It was funny and I was just laughing to myself and then the next thing I knew they were looking at me.

What is one thing you have learned from having hearing aids? 

I have learned that I was never going to be just like everybody. Normal is not my best friend. I have learned that it is OK to be different – I do not have any choice but to be different. But Mill Valley has no diversity whatsoever and I kind of stand out. I could appear normal if I hide it really well, but what is the point? It takes too much energy.

How has having hearing aids influenced the decisions you have made? 

I went to a private school, St. Joseph’s Catholic School, through  kindergarten and eighth grade,  I was the only deaf kid there. The kids back then didn’t understand that being different is not a bad thing. So I was teased a little bit but I ended up finding one of my best friends there, so it was not really that bad. By eighth grade I pretty much accepted the fact that I was a good person and not weird. So I was teased a little bit.

My friends, when they have pool parties, have figured out a way to have me included. Instead of regular Marco-Polo I play splash Marco-Polo because I can hear low sounds, like in a splash, [I can hear] the ‘kaplunk’. So they figured out ways to have me included. They make sure whenever we go to the mall they know we should go to the quiet place instead of the loud, crowded place. And then when we watch movies they automatically put subtitles on, after a few years of asking them to do it they all do it without me asking. They know to text me, not to call me.

I don’t usually go to [movie] theaters at all; it’s pretty rare. I go like once every three months, when there is really nothing else to do. I’d rather go bowling or go and play at SkyZone and stuff like that than go to the movies. I mean most of the time I just fall asleep. I get bored. I got asked out a while ago and he was like, “Lets go see a movie.” I Asked, “How about we go bowling?”

 

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