Hearing Our Way: Winter 2021

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The magazine for kids and teens with hearing loss


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Contents 4 Things

Hi from Mel!

We Love

6 O vercoming Obstacles

10 Fun & Games 12 Sophie’s


Contributors Melanie Paticoff Grossman • Editor in Chief Magazine Design • N-KCreative.com Overcoming Obstacles • Evelena Eva’s Bookshelf • Eva With special thanks to all of our featured H W friends

Dear Readers,

—big, strong heroes as For so long we thought of cue und on the big screen to res aro ing fly d an es cap ng ari characters we hero has been ce the pandemic, the word Sin y. da the e sav d an le people in troub hospitals who risked roes—doctors and nurses in he are hc alt he ve ha we w redefined. No people who work in also have essential workers, We . nts tie pa VID CO lp he their lives to roes—their jobs have acies. Teachers are also he arm ph d an ts, ran tau res , ool, grocery stores ng to mask wearing in sch rni lea e lin on m fro ic, em pand changed so much since the te kind of heroes are every day. One of my favori nts de stu ir the for re the way! and they are and never let it get in your s los ng ari he ve ha t tha u e yo su per hea ro es —people lik elena. Evy is , including our covergirl Ev es ro ea rh pe su of l ful is ue loss and making This Super Winter iss teachers about her hearing r he to ly ect dir g kin tal , super kind to a su pe r self-advocate sful at school. She is also ces suc be to s ed ne she g rents’ farm! sure she has everythin , and horses on her grandpa ws co s, pig the of e car e animals and helps tak gno, who l-life superhero, Lou Ferri rea a iew erv int to y nit rtu r implant. Last summer I had the oppo recently got his first cochlea d an TV on lk Hu le who played The Incredib lly kind and humble person rea a is he g, on str d an big ch in his Even though Lou looks so wn. He has overcome so mu do t pu d an d llie bu be to remembers what it was like inspiring story. h hearing loss by sharing his wit ers oth lp he to es lov w life and no holiday season! happy and healthy a s ilie fam ur yo Wishing you and

www.HearingOurWay.com info@hearingourway.com PO Box 13, Greenlawn, New York 11740 Volume 8, No. 4 ©2021 Sophie’s Tales, LLC. All rights reserved. Hearing Our Way is published quarterly and is a publication of Sophie’s Tales, LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. See p.11 for more information about subscriptions for homes, schools, and offices or visit www.HearingOurWay.com. For promotional © opportunities, change of address, or other customer service, contact info@hearingourway.com. • All comments and suggestions received by Hearing Our Way become the sole property of Hearing Our Way and may be used without compensation or acknowledgment. Hearing Our Way disclaims liability for any losses or damages that may result from using information in this magazine. • Inquire today about sponsorship and advertising opportunities. Contact Info@HearingOurWay.com.


, M.S.D.E. Mel Paticoff Grossman Editor in Chief and maltipoo, Sophie

Look for these symbols throughout the magazine for special tips !

Hearing – Info about hearing aids, cochlear implants, and listening devices Talking – Tips for speech and language Self-Advocacy – Ideas for sharing your hearing loss story with others

Did you receive this issue from a friend, school, or office? Sign up for your own subscription to continue receiving Hearing Our Way ! www.HearingOurWay.com


You Are Strong! You can do anything you set your mind to.

Andres is a 12-year-old boy with bilateral cochlear implants from Los Angeles, California. He loves sporting a fresh haircut that shows off his hearing devices. Andres says, “With my cochlear implants I have access to all the sounds around me (even wind!), I get to talk to my family every day, and I can listen to music, which allows me to be comfortable with myself. That’s all because of my implants which make me special. Without them, I wouldn’t be me.”

Look We L ve: Andres’ Fresh Cut

books We L ve: Eva’s Bookshelf Eva is a 13-year-old girl from New Jersey who has always loved reading! She has hearing loss in her left ear, but with the help of her Roger Focus® receiver and wireless system, she never lets hearing loss hold her back! Ready to discover your next favorite book? Eva invites you to explore her bookshelf.


D, by Janina Scarlet, Ph en itt wr y ap er Th ustrator SuperHero vel and DC Comics ill at shares ar M by ed at tr us ill and ens th self-help book for te Wellinton Alves, is a rheroes pe su le portrayed as true stories of peop l health challenges. Dr. Scarlet ta combating their men ople’s journeys through therapy, pe g on be used to brings readers al ness skills that can ul df in m n ar le s er ad this book and re ruggles. I related to ger, st n ow r ei th th wi help them ings of an ing loss because feel as someone with hear are of ten experienced when we ion shame, and frustrat book can help other kids like me is Th lf-worth are unable to hear. d teach us our own se an gs in el fe e os th t figure ou book to es. I recommend this and helpful strategi themes of usses more mature sc di it as s er ag en te mental health.

g Siblint sp ters is s o w t t e e M California

a, from La Mes s t hearing los who never le y of fun ! get in the wa

W rds, W rds, W rds Flying off the handle

Penny, 7, and Brynn, 2, both have cochlear implants. Together they love to play, watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse , and give each other lots of hugs!

Penny: I like to help teach Brynn about her cochlear implants. If she takes her special headband off, I remind her to keep it on and help place it back on. Brynn claps her hands to thank me! It makes me feel good that I can help Brynn by myself without having to call my mom for help.

Brynn: I love to give Penny big hugs. One time I hugged her so hard that her cochlear implant fell off! I found it and said, “Yay!” and gave it to her. We always help each other.

Penny: It is so cute when Brynn sees my implant off and shakes her finger at me to ‘scold’ me just like I do when she takes hers off! I also love celebrating our hearing birthdays (the anniversary of getting our cochlear implants) together. Mine is October 13th, and we celebrated with ice cream cake. Brynn’s is October 28th, and we had s’mores cupcakes!

Brynn: I love my big sister Penny. My dream is that we can have a party and camp outside!

One Last Word from Penny: Before my sister was born, there

Language can be tricky, especially idioms, which are groups of words or expressions that mean something different than what they say. You might hear the idiom flying off the handle and think it has to do with soaring through the sky, but no! Flying off the handle means getting angry very quickly and losing your temper. Like this: “In the comic, The Incredible Hulk, whenever the character Bruce Banner would fly off the handle, he would transform into his big, green, angry alter-ego, the Hulk!”

were no other kids with hearing loss near me. When I found out Brynn was deaf like me, I felt so excited. It is amazing to have a sister with cochlear implants!

Hearing loss is part of the whole family. Share your story with us: info@hearingourway.com


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f Stories o Inspiring You ! e ik L Teens d n a s id K

EvY’s Faves H ACTIVITIES Reading Basketball Showing pigs Riding horses

H GAMES Clue Horseopoly

H BOOKS Harry Potter Nancy Drew

H MOVIE Troll’s World Tour

H MUSIC Luke Combs Kenny Rogers

H FOODS Mashed potatoes Sea salt caramel ice cream

H PLACES The Rocky Mountains The Wisconsin State Historical Museum

H W does Evelena hear? With a book in one hand, her horse’s reins in the other, and two cochlear implants!

All About Me

Hi, I’m Evelena—Evy for short! I am 11-yearsold and in sixth grade in Cobb, Wisconsin. In fact, my school is in the middle of a corn field! After school I love spending time at my grandparents’ farm with my pigs, horses, and cattle.

Hearing My Way

When I was born, I was diagnosed with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss, caused by a gene mutation called Connexin 26. I received my first cochlear implant on my right side at 11-months-old and my second one on the left side at 13-months-old.

Fun on the Farm

I love animals, and I am lucky to spend lots of time with them at my grandparents’ farm. I especially love hanging with my pigs—I even take them on walks and read them stories! At the end of every summer, I have the opportunity to show my pigs at the county fair.

Book Nook

At school, I am part of a club called ‘Lit Wars.’ We read books and go to competitions where we have to answer trivia questions about the books we have read.

Overcoming Obstacles

I love to play softball, but I’ve had some challenging experiences due to my hearing loss. Out on the field, it can be very windy, and it becomes really difficult to hear my coaches’ instructions because of the noisy wind. At first, I tried using an FM system at practice, but the wind was still too noisy. One day I went to my cousin’s house for her birthday. Sometimes she has some cool hand-me-downs for me, so we went to her garage to take a look. She had a red softball helmet—one of my school colors!—and it fit perfectly. It was tight around my ears, so the wind couldn’t get in. Ever since then, I have been able to hear my coaches really well. The experience reminded me that whenever I’m in a tough hearing situation, I shouldn’t give up; I should keep looking for options to solve the problem.

Cochlear Conferences

Having hearing loss has opened new doors for me and introduced me to many people. Every spring, we attend a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Picnic, featuring lots of good food, fun games with prizes, and people with hearing loss just like me. Because I live in a rural area, I don’t get to be with other people with hearing loss who know how I feel very often, so it’s a special time for us. My mom and I have also had the opportunity to attend conferences with my cochlear implant manufacturer,

Evy and her pig, Val, won Honorable Mention at the 2021 Iowa County Fair, 3rd place out of 100 gilts (female pigs)—a huge honor!


did not have hearing aids. In fact, it wasn’t until years later, in 2nd grade, that Lyla was diagnosed with hearing loss. We have always been friends, but we got even closer when she got her hearing aids. We are always there for each other, and we loved working with our teacher on our Hearing Our Way features!


Above: Evy shows off her love for Harry Potter. Top right: Evy loves to spend time with the horses on her farm. MED-EL. We’ve visited Kansas City and Philadelphia. We’ve even given talks about cochlear implants—I usually feel nervous at first, but once I start talking, I am fine.

To Share or Not to Share

Even though I have given talks about my cochlear implants at conferences, it doesn’t mean I am always comfortable talking about my hearing loss. Around people I know, it can be harder to share my story. In second grade, some kids started to think it was strange that I have a magnet inside my head after hearing about my cochlear implant surgeries. They said things that made me feel horrible and made me feel like an alien. I realized that they said mean things because they did not understand. My friends helped me to explain to those kids what cochlear implants are, and once they understood, the mean comments stopped. It’s awesome to have good friends who can help, but at the end of the day, you are the one who has to believe in yourself and stand up for yourself. You can say something like,

“These are my cochlear implants that help me hear,” and if someone is being mean, you can say, “Making fun of my surgery is more hurtful to me than my surgery itself. Please stop. I am happy to tell you more about cochlear implants instead.”

School Buddy

I am really lucky to have a great friend at school, Lyla, who has hearing loss, too. We both work with our amazing DHH teacher, Pam Kurihara, and Lyla and her family were even featured in Hearing Our Way’s Sibling Spot last summer. When I first met Lyla as babies, she

Be on our next cover! info@hearingourway.com

I have always been really interested in space, and my dream for the future is to become an astronaut! I am inspired by Katherine Johnson, an African American woman whose story was featured in the book and film Hidden Figures. No one believed in her, but she proved everyone wrong by calculating the path that let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and brought Neil Armstrong home safely. I am inspired by her strength and determination and her way of following her passion even if the path is difficult.

My Best Advice

When life gets you down, get back up and try again! Take advantage of all of the opportunities and chances you are given. There may be some people that don’t believe in you along the way, but all that matters is that you believe in yourself. You are tough—you may have only one voice, but your voice can be STRONG— use it!

ool . at sch ra, says, a l y L a v y an d Ku r i h a Lef t: E acher, Pam O u r Way a s e g t i HH arin l ive n T he i r D v e u s i n g H e . S i n c e w e lo ch r my “ I j u s t g t o o l s o m u o n d e r f u l fo a g e w n r t e a c h i l a r e a it i s er k id s t hei a h r t u o r a ” ee g loss ! ts to s s t uden w it h he a r i n


Lou Ferrigno:

A Real-

Lou Ferrigno, superhero icon, fitness expert, and motivational speaker best known for his role as the Incredible Hulk, made the life-changing decision to receive a cochlear implant at the age of 69-years-old. Editor-in-Chief Mel sat down with Mr. Ferrigno over Zoom to hear his story.

“Body-building helped me feel strong and powerful and taught me discipline.”

ry in elementa “When I was as ashamed school, I w d ing loss, an of my hear t anyone to I didn’t wan it.” know about


Hearing Our Way (H W): What made you decide to take the leap from wearing hearing aids since childhood to getting a cochlear implant? LOU FERRIGNO (LF): It took me a long time to decide to get a cochlear implant. A lot of people suggested it over the years, but I wasn’t sure that I could really get much out of it. When I would go to ComicCon, people with cochlear implants would come up to me to talk, and I noticed that they seemed to hear very well! I was always looking for power from my hearing aids—more power, more power! But even when I got new hearing aids and turned the volume all the way up, it still didn’t sound clear. What I was really looking for was clarity. Then I had a friend who lost his hearing. He did a lot of research and received a cochlear implant. His word discrimination went back up to 98% —that clarity was what I had been looking for. It convinced me to pursue the surgery. H W: How soon after activation did you start to see the benefits from the cochlear implant? LF: Everyone’s activation is different of course. At first, I was able to hear bell tones chiming. I could start to

hear my audiologist when she spoke, but when she tested me using a list of different words, it was hard to distinguish between the words. I wondered if I would ever be able to hear the different words on the list. As I went back for more mappings every two weeks, at every session, my scores improved, and I was hearing the words better and better. I am hearing certain consonants like ‘s’ that I had never heard before. Now that I can hear those sounds, I’m improving my own speech and articulating more clearly. With just one cochlear implant, I already feel like I can hear ten times better than I ever heard before. I wish I had done this ten years ago. Now I am making up for lost time.

H W: Are you doing any auditory training to help learn to hear with the cochlear implant? LF: Yes, I use the Cochlear app and listen to TED Talks to help train my brain. I think of auditory training as an ear workout; it’s just like working out with your body. The more exercises you do, the better off you will be, and the stronger you will get. When you get a cochlear implant, you can’t just snap your

-Life Superhero with Hearing Loss wanted anyone to know I had hearing loss, but they did know! This was the moment I realized that when you feel ashamed and hide, you are the person who is going to lose out. Now, I tell the whole world I have hearing loss; there is nothing to be ashamed of and everything to gain!

Lou Ferrigno on the set of The Incredible Hulk in the 1980s. No CGI technology was used back then- just a lot of green makeup!

fingers and hear perfectly. It takes homework from you—dedication and commitment—to learn to hear.

H W: How did you develop your selfadvocacy skills and learn to be so open about your hearing loss? LF: When I was in elementary school, I was ashamed of my hearing loss, and I didn’t want anyone to know about it—not even my teachers. The teacher would try to ask me questions, but I didn’t know she was speaking to me, so I didn’t answer. My school thought maybe I wasn’t smart, or maybe I didn’t care, so they called my father and told him I would need to be put in a special isolated school instead. That school was not the right fit for me, so I was sent back to the mainstream and had to sit in the front row of the class. To my surprise, the whole class gave me a standing ovation for being brave enough to come back. I hadn’t

H W: What made you decide to start body-building? LF: When I was young, I was bullied a lot. I had the old-fashioned hearing aids with a strap around my chest and a wire up to my ear. Kids would come over and punch me in the chest, just to be mean. I would go home crying to my father, but he would say, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself.” I realized that I was alone and that I would have to fight for myself. Body-building helped me feel strong and powerful and taught me discipline. My goal in life is to always maximize my personal power—physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. If you are being bullied, please tell someone you trust. You are not the problem— the bully is the problem—and there are adults who can help. Find things you are passionate about to help build up your strength and confidence—discovering body-building changed my life and landed me the role in The Incredible Hulk. H W: How did The Incredible Hulk change your life? LF: When I ended up doing The Hulk series, it was just the beginning for

me. It made me realize that I could have a career as an actor. In fact, it made me realize that I could achieve anything I set my mind to, which is something that unfortunately my father had not instilled in me growing up. Instead, he had told me that my hearing loss would limit me. I refused to believe that. Everything he said I couldn’t do, I’ve done— plus more. I went from a 12-year-old boy who wouldn’t speak in front of people because of my speech impediment to a worldwide motivational speaker.

H W: If you could go back and talk to your teenage self, what would you tell him? LF: I would say, “You made the right decisions. Go all the way. Your life is going to keep improving and improving, and before you pass on, before you leave this place, you will know you gave it 100%. And I’m very proud of you.” For more information about the Cochlear Nucleus System and to watch Lou’s emotional cochlear implant activation video, please visit www.cochlear.com.


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Looking for awesome educational resources designed just for kids with hearing loss? Check out TOD on Wheels, where you can find worksheets, games, teacher’s guides, and more! www.todonwheels.com • @todonwheels

Being Insecure

By Wilson K., age 14, Tempe, Arizona

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As I was driving to the hearing doctor I was really nervous. I arrived at the doctor’s office and saw some children and a bunch of elderly people, but no one who looked like a third grader like me. My name was called, and I walked down the hallway. I took my hearing test, and the doctor said that I was 65% deaf and suggested I wear hearing aids. I felt very sad and kind of mad that I had hearing loss. A few weeks later, my hearing aids were ready. I tried them on for the very first time, and it sounded really different, but I knew I could hear better. I got home from the doctor’s office and was feeling pretty good about my hearing aids. I thought it was actually pretty cool how they worked. But the next morning I would have to go to school with them. When I got to school I was feeling really insecure about my hearing aids. I took them off constantly around people. At recess, some kid came up to me and started teasing me. It made me really sad. For the rest of that day I did not wear my hearing aids. And for the rest of third grade, I did not wear my hearing aids. I did not wear my hearing aids again after that all the way up until sixth grade. The night before the first day of middle school, I decided I would wear my hearing aids again. I was scared, but I felt ready. I knew that if anyone said anything to me, my brother, who was in eighth grade, would be on my side. I wore my hearing aids throughout the day, but people kept asking me, “What are those things in your ears?” That made my insecurities about my hearing aids come back. Throughout sixth grade, I wore my hearing aids on and off. When I didn’t wear my hearing aids, I would notice my grades start to drop. I had lots of C’s and D’s. In seventh grade, I stopped wearing my hearing aids again completely. My grades were horrible. Towards the end of the year, I realized that I needed to step up my grades and that meant wearing my hearing aids again. I had to stop caring about what people would think. I put my hearing aids back on and finished the year with A’s and B’s. That summer, I continued to wear my hearing aids. I realized that I hear so much better with them. When eighth grade started, there was no doubt in my mind that I would wear my hearing aids every day. Now, I feel really proud of my grades and my GPA, and most of all, proud of myself. Do you relate to Wilson’s story? Share your hearing loss story with us at info@hearingourway.com.

An exciting PEN PAL PROGRAM presented by Ryan Brady with Hearing Our Way !

We all love our birthdays, but kids with hearing loss sometimes have a bonus celebration—the anniversary of the day they got their hearing devices—their hearing birthdays.

Zeke, 6, calls his bilateral hearing aids his ‘super ears!’ He can hear lots of sounds with them, even cars passing by! He and his family love to celebrate the anniversary of the special day he got his hearing aids when he was 5-years-old. Happy hearing birthday, Zeke!

We want to see photos of your hearing birthday celebration! Email them to us at info@hearingourway.com and you may be featured in Hearing Our Way.

Parents, want to surprise your child with a hearing birthday shoutout? Get in touch via email: info@hearingourway.com

Azalea loves reading Hearing Our Way and you will, too! aring loss “Every child wit h he ine !” az shou ld have this mag

aring Our Way is the An annual subscription to He cher, or audiologist! tea perfect gift for any student, Bulk pricing is available Prices start at $19.99/year. doctors offices! for schools, hospitals, and

le worl dw ide. Hearing Our Way is avail ab ay.com Subscribe NOW : hearingOurW

Bring Sophie Home for the Holidays

The perfect holiday gift


for holidays, birthdays, cochlear implant surgery, friends, students, and younger siblings!

ORDER TODAY! The Award Winning Series about Hearing Loss and Cochlear Implants

Let Sophie help you share your hearing loss and cochlear implant story! available at: SophiesTales.com


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Sophie loves shining a spotlight on amazing kids with hearing loss around the world. To shine a spotlight on someone you know, write to us at info@hearingourway.com!

Holly, 13, is an eighth grader from Basehor, Kansas with unilateral hearing loss. She enjoys playing the cello, crafting, and playing sports including basketball, volleyball, track, and swim.

When Holly was 2.5-years-old, she lost her hearing in her left ear from bacterial meningitis. From ages 3 to 7, she wore a BAHA (bone-anchored hearing aid). In second grade, she switched to using CROS hearing aids, which use a microphone and receiver to transfer sound from the ear with hearing loss to the ear with typical hearing. Every school year, Holly advocates for herself by sending out a video to her teachers about her hearing loss. Holly’s teacher of the deaf, Kimberly Lybarger, says, “Holly is a fantastic role model with strong self-advocacy skills. She is an accomplished musician and an athlete. Holly loves reading Hearing Our Way cover-to-cover and finds inspiration and connection from the other kids who are featured. I think she is a kind and brave person who is an inspiration herself!” Holly feels grateful for access to her hearing aid technology—she knows some people in the world don’t have that. She is also thankful to have a friend with hearing loss, Sophie, who understands how she feels; together they even have a YouTube channel! In the future, Holly hopes to be a primary school teacher and inspire kids to do anything they put their minds to, despite their challenges. Her message for other kids is, “Hearing loss is a part of you, but don’t let it get in the way of sports, friendship, education, or your dreams. You can do anything!”


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