We've lived in Utah, Nebraska, upper Michigan and now we've settled in Colorado...at least for now! Marley is 10, Isi is 6 and Enzo is 4.

Life is great!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Husband is Deaf

I know, ALL husbands have selective hearing.
I think mine does too! 
But, my husband REALLY IS DEAF. 

Nathan has enough residual hearing that he "could" wear two hearing aids. 
With two aids (or maybe it's just having one in the left ear) there is too much distortion, for him. 
More sound coming in that distracts than helps.
So, he chooses to wear an aid in his best ear, his right ear. 

With no hearing aid he cannot hear.

Well, that's not entirely true....
When he first takes his aid out, it's moist in his ear (ew! right?).
Since sound waves can move the moisture in his ear... 
if I yell in his ear when it's moist he can hear me.
Otherwise, if I yell in his ear...he cannot hear me. 

So, with no hearing aid he cannot hear.

Nathan has unusual hearing loss as well. 
Most people have a hard time hearing high frequencies.
He does not.
He has more low frequency hearing loss.
When children around him are screaming it is REALLY bad for him.
Gives him a headache real fast!

Same with anyone right?
Screaming kids = headache. 
Remember the majority of his hearing is low frequency.
The hearing aid is still amplifying high frequencies. 
So, imagine with your normal hearing, hearing a child's scream, amplified, right.in.your.ear.

Speaking of hearing aids.
Little hearing aids (in the ear aids) that can hide in your ear canal, like Miracle Ear or Belltones...
they wouldn't work for Nathan.
His hearing loss is too severe.
So, Nathan has to wear a behind the ear aid.
It's big.
It's bulky.
It works.
He's grateful!

Back to hearing....

Though his hearing aid helps him hear, it doesn't help him hear like we hear. 
I think that's why they are called hearing AIDS and not a MIRACLE EAR...wait.
You know what I mean.

We can localize sound. 
Nathan cannot.
If someone is talking at our side, we can tell and turn to look at them. 
If someone is talking at Nathan's side, he can hear something, he can sometimes tell it is someone talking, but he has no idea where it is coming from and cannot tell what they are saying, or even if they are talking to him.

This makes group settings and conversations with multiple people pretty difficult for Nathan. 

Think about it...
One person is talking to his left, he is following, mostly by reading their lips, more on that later.
Someone to his right responds or adds to the conversation.
By the time he locates the person who is now talking, they are done talking. 
He doesn't know what they said, so he could be lost at this point.
But, his gaze happens to catch the next person talking (directly in front of him).
He can gather what person #2 said by what #1 and #3 said, but not always. 
He could continue following or try to follow or he could already be lost.
It's HARD!
Once multiple persons have spoken and spoken multiple times...he's lost.
Not to mention when the topic changes...that can really throw you for a loop.

Even talking to one person face to face in a group setting is hard with lots of background noise.

Even though Nathan doesn't hear like we do he has other SUPER POWERS.

He reads lips!
Sometimes from across the room!
Watch out what you're saying from across the room, when Nathan's around!!!

Sometimes he's self conscience about staring at peoples mouths.

I just keep telling him, it's a sign of listening and being attentive, even for hearing people.
I sometimes get self conscience about where I'm looking when speaking to people. 
All of the sudden I'm like, "Where should I be looking? At their right eye? Their left? Between their eyes? Their mouth?"
So, his insecurity is natural and fine...but, keep looking at their mouth Nathan!
Keep looking!

He uses social cues WAY better than we do.
Body language
Facial Expressions
These help him, big time, when trying to follow group conversations.

At home....

There are times he is hearing something and he will start looking around puzzled. 
I will then say:
"The garbage man is here."  
"The neighbors upstairs are pounding on the floor again."
"There are sirens outside."
"Marley just turned the tv on."
"Lorenzo is crying."
etc. etc. etc.

I am a great help!
I can usually tell when he is about to start looking around puzzled. 
I also help him is social situations, the best I can.
 I could do better, more on that later.

Nathan, of course, takes his hearing aid out at night. 
He can hear nothing while we sleep.
He claims I snore!!!!!

When I am the only one that can hear, at night, in the dark, it freaks me out, a little.
I am a pretty sensitive sleeper, so little noises wake me up.
To help me sleep and not be distracted by noise I have a noise maker I play every night to mask unwanted sound....like, the neighbors upstairs, my children crying, and of course intruders.
That also kinda freaks me out at night.
We're both deaf!
It's better than me losing sleep.

There are times when I am reminded of what he is likely to hear and even more likely NOT to hear.
Not just in church...but here is a good example.

Last Sunday, church had JUST started. 
Someone was speaking at the pulpit and people were still settling around us. 
There was noise.
At the same time, Lorenzo REALLY wanted to scribble all over Isi's Primary talk.
Nathan was holding Lorenzo and quickly passed the talk to me and I hid it from sight.
Lorenzo lost it and started crying and grunting and then even screeched.

Nathan sat there looking toward the front and probably trying to gather information by reading the person's lips at the pulpit, but still holding onto Lorenzo.

I leaned over, poked Nathan and with my angry face (remember he picks up on facial expressions as an essential part of communication) and I mouthed, "He needs to be taken out!!!"
Nathan, "whispered", "Sorry! I couldn't hear him!!!"

He could feel Lorenzo's belly tighten, but he thought it was just part of his struggle to get away and hunt for the special, most precious, piece of paper. 

I felt bad that I had used my angry face.

I offered to take Lorenzo out....
But, Nathan put on his angry face and marched out with Lorenzo in arms.

Speaking of church....
We HAVE to sit close to the front so he can read lips. 
If he is beyond row 5 he gets nothing from the people speaking.
We always try to get to our meetings SUPER early, just for this reason.
Ok...I also HATE to be late, for anything.
I got it from my Grandpa Alger, "If you're 5 minutes early, YOU'RE LATE!"
He was a navy man.

Back to church.....
Nathan gets very little from Sunday School and Priesthood, because of all the comments from those not at the front of the room...or those who he can only see the back of their heads.
It's nothing that can be fixed....
Unless.....he had a transliterator.
It's not really a word but it comes from the word transliteration.

Have you heard of Cued Speech?

cued speech
ˌkyo͞od ˈspēCH/
  1. a type of sign language that uses hand movements combined with mouth shapes to communicate to the hearing impaired.

Google it or YouTube it.

When I think about Cued Speech and using it with Nathan my heart beats faster.
It makes me excited!

Transliterator isn't really a word but transliteration is the conversion of one script to another. 

A language translator is a person who translates from one language to another, especially as a professional.

But, Cued Speech is not a different language. It is a different way to convey or communicate English or any language actually, without using your voice.

So a person listening and then conveying English by using Cued Speech would be a transliterator.

That's how I understand it anyway. 

I'm no expert.

Not even close.

I have learned Cued Speech. 

So has Nathan.

They say you can be fluent in about 10-14 days.


If you don't use it, just like anything, you lose it.

I need to practice it!

So does Nathan.

Then I could transliterate SO many things for him!!!


Did you learn more about Nathan?
Did you learn how to better communicate with him?
Make sure he can see you and especially your mouth.

And, I don't think I mentioned....




Melissa Bond Davis said...

Is cued speech what Michelle Crawford does?

Melissa Bond Davis said...

And also, this is super informative! I don't know anything about hearing loss and I wouldn't know what it's like. Thank you and Nathan for sharing :)

Tessa Clardy said...

Love this post! Miss you guys bunches. :-)


heatherb said...

I took the Cued speech class because of Michelle and I have sadly forgotten almost all of it. Too Many Fish :) anyway, even having not read this or not knowing Nathan reads lips, I would not think anything of someone staring at my lips. Anyone looking anywhere on my face seems like they're looking at me and listening. this was so interesting to read and how I wish I could read lips as my hearing becomes worse as I age. Nathan clearly has Super Powers. Love you guys!

Becky said...

Yes! She taught us! It takes a couple days to learn. Then you practice practice practice.

My Everythings said...

Very interesting and informative and funny (I love your wit). Miss you!

My Everythings said...

Very interesting and informative and funny (I love your wit). Miss you!

Aaron Calderwood SCOT said...

I don't think Nate could have married a better person who is more understanding and accepting of his hearing loss. We are so glad you are a part of our family.

eden said...

very interesting and fun post! i started watching people's mouths on my mission because of the crazy strong accents some of them had. made it much easier to understand them, and i've never broken the habit. every once in a while i try to look more at their eyes, but then i go through the same questions you mentioned - left eye? right eye? between the eyes? (:

Jeanna said...

I took ASL for my foreign language credit at BYU and loved it. Is there any reason why Nathan doesn't use it? This is just a curiosity, not a judgment. I know hearing loss, deaf culture, ASL, etc. are all very personal. What makes cued speech better? is it that it can be learned so quickly?

Great post Becky!

Becky said...

Jeanna, I took ASL as my foreign language as well. I think...I know I took at least the first class because it was required for my major Communication Disorders.

Nathan's parents had a lot of decisions to make when they found out about his hearing impairment at the age of 2 years. They lived in a small town and I believe they chose what they thought was best for Nathan and their family and what resources were available to them. From a VERY young age a little school bus picked him up, in front of his house and took him to Speech.

When Nathan found out about the deaf culture in college he had a little bit of an identity crisis and did try to teach himself sign language, using library books and videos from the library. But, he could communicate just fine without it (his speech is very clear and he had been reading lips since forever) so it was VERY difficult for him. When he attempted to interact with the deaf community it was very hard and they also found it confusing that he didn't KNOW ASL.

People try to sign to him quite often. It's usually people that don't know very much sign but want to try using what they know. I think they might also be trying to be helpful? I have seen him sign back, "I don't know sign." Which I think is hilarious. They are always hearing people so he could just say, "I don't sign."

Cued speech is awesome because like you said it can be learned so quickly. Also, it's not a different language, you are relaying EXACTLY what someone else is saying sound for sound and that put together is word for word. Since it's based on phonetics it also helps with literacy. ASL is a different language so, from what I understand it can be very difficult to read English. Not impossible of course but much more difficult to learn.

Jeanna said...

Becky: Very interesting! I hope you both can learn cued speech and that it helps. It's so great that you have each other. Isn't marriage cool like that? I don't interact in person with either of you very much (but thankful for the web!) but when I do, I'll be sure to be more aware of Nathan. As a social human, It would be difficult for me to be in a room full of people and struggle to understand or follow a conversation. I wonder if Nathan would prefer the silence if he had a choice. I've heard a lot of deaf people really struggle with how loud our world is when they get things like hearing aids or cochlear implants. Thanks for the explanation. :)