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All About Believing in Your Child- Episode 51 with Chaya Klughaupt

Welcome back to the All About Audiology podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Lilach Saperstein and on this show, we discuss audiology and how it relates to you. We bring on guests who share their personal stories, as well as guests in different fields so we can dive in to the topics that are affecting you and your life. We also have lots of professionals and students listening to the show so, I love the fact that we have a dialogue in our community.

On today’s episode, we are going to be speeking about how to treat someone with a disability. I want to mention episode 43 that was on recently in July, with Genia Stephen. And on that episode, we talked about creating a vision for your child’s life. When someone has a disability, you are forced to make certain decisions. Whereas, in another situation where a child didn’t have a disability, you would just go with the flow and move from great to great and kind of move along in life without having to make big decisions. Whereas the journey with a child who is disabled is very different.

So, I’m excited to introduce our guest today, Chaya Klughaupt. She’s a parenting coach and also does marriage counseling. She’s going to share her story and her perspective.

Dr. Saperstein: “Welcome to the show.”

Chaya: “Hello.”

LS: “Thank you for coming on. Chaya, tell us a little bit about yourself.”

CK: “Okay, so first I’d like to start with that I’m a mother of seven. I have twenty-year-old triplets that were born when I was 24. I have a 17 year old, I have an 11 year old, and I have twins that just turned five. So, as a parent I have experience with teens and young adults and toddlers and multiples. So, I like to share a lot of my own personal experience with my parents, with classes, about my own err in childhood experiences. I learn a lot from them and I teach from them.”

LS: “Wait, so when you became a mother, you had one, two and three?”

CK: “Yeah, right away. I started off with three. I never knew what it was like to just have one child where both parents are taking care of that one child and all around that one child. Two parents do the diapers and the feedings and everything. Me and my husband were always juggling that between us. Someone has to feed them, or change the diapers. Thank God, it’s been a wonderful journey. At the beginning, I started off being very, very confident in myself and how I wanted to raise my triplets. I started with the triplets, so I had very confident ideas in how I wanted to raise them. And it actually went very well when they were babies. But it started to get a little more complicated for me as they got older and entered the school system. So, I’ll address that, I think, a little bit later.

I’d also like to add that I was born, well I was diagnosed as deaf when I was two and a half, almost three years old. I was diagnosed as deaf and the doctor who diagnosed me, told my parents that I would never learn how to speak and listen. That’s what the ytold my parents. This was in Toronto, Canada. They told my parents, ‘You have to send your daughter to the school for deaf and she’s gonna have to learn signing. And that’s it. You don’t have another choice.’

Thank God for my parents and their own sense, their own belief in themselves and belief in their child. First of all, they could not believe it. I was already almost three years old and to them, they saw a child that was very, very functional. I was a pretty good girl, I was pretty functional. I was a happy child and I did what I was supposed to do. They were pretty amazed at how much I was able to do without hearing. So, they said, if this is how much she is capable of without hearing, we’re not going to send her away to a deaf school. We think that she could do way more, we just have to help her with her hearing.

Now, back then, and I saw that you mentioned it in one of your episodes, parents, how did they get their information? It wasn’t through the internet where you find tons of options. NO! Back then, you spoke to people, you looked it up like you said in the phonebook and you didn’t get that much of a variety of information. It happened to be that they met, not happened to be, I believe that everything happens with a purpose. They met somebody in the doctor’s office that was Orthodox and they just pointed each other out and introduced themselves. The other couple told my parents that their daughter is also diagnosed as deaf and they are teaching her to speak and listen using auditory verbal, which was in Toronto. They right away gave my parents the number.

This was basically all the information they had. What the doctor said and what this couple told them. No Google, no internet and that’s what they did. They called this number and they were told that they can teach their daughter how to speak and listen, you just have to give her the right technology, give her the right hearing aids and adjust them properly according to her hearing, and teach her from the basics. I was close to three when I got my first pair of hearing aids and my parents took me to auditory verbal sessions once a week.

And I have to say, my mother worked with me at home all the time to catch me up on all the sounds, on the listening. I have memories, not when I was three, but I have memories of her putting words all over the house and to read the word and say the word, I don’t think I could read yet. But just to say the word, and just a reminder to say the word. And she wouldn’t stop talking to me. She would talk to me while she was cooking, she would talk to me when she was cutting an apple… She just wouldn’t stop talking to me so that I would just hear as much as possible.”

LS: “I think it’s very important to point out the tenets, the principles of auditory verbal method are very much about more and more talking, more and more input so that the child hears and is constantly cued to pay attention to sounds around them and put them into words. And also that parents really play a crucial role. Sometimes, people will say that they do AVT (Auditory Verbal Therapy) at school, but maybe the parents are not completely on board or can’t be involved. There are a lot of factors when someone chooses that route, how it goes. So, that’s amazing. Do you mind me asking, we could leave it out if you want, but I’m just wondering around what decade this was?”

CK: “I was born in 1976, so I would say this was in the 80s. No problem, I can’t believe I’m at that age that you have to be embarrassed to ask me. I don’t feel so old yet. But yes.”

LS: “I think it’s good to put it into context because so many people are young parents and this is happening now and they are inundated with Facebook groups and podcasts, haha.”

CK: “Also, I see it with parents in general, not just having to do with disability, part of the problem is that they are overwhelmed with information on how to raise a child in general and how to be a parent. There are so many methods out there and it can be very, very confusing and overwhelming. So, I’m sure when it comes to disability, there is the same issue. You just don’t know which path to choose. That’s why I say, I’m so proud of my parents. On the one hand it was easier because they did have a doctor that told them something else, and they were just so confident in themselves and confident in me. And believe me, if you see my mother, you would know what I’m talking about. If it wasn’t for her and her strong will, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I totally give her (the credit).

I always say my mother, but she always corrects me and says, it’s me and your father. But my mother was with me most of the time, my father was working. I have nothing against my father, he is a great father. But I do remember my mother playing the main role with that confidence that she had. She had it from the day that she decided. She didn’t have it in the beginning, but right when she made that decision, she had that confidence. I think it’s important in general and I teach it in my classes to have confidence in yourself in whatever you choose. You’re the parent, you decide if you choose this way or that way. When you decide, be confident in your decision. You’re the parent, and you get to decide because it’s your children.”

LS: “One part of that, you’re saying that she decided and was committed to that journey, you probably had your hearing aids in all day long, made every appointment, all of those kinds of things. If you’re on it, then you’re on it 100%.”

CK: “Exactly. That was my mother 100%. So, I really admire her till today. Like I have the shivers when I think about it, because I admire her till today when I think about it. It’s true because when my triplets were born, people gave me advice. There wasn’t Facebook yet, we weren’t as connected. I had people calling me and telling me to do this and that, different advice, different opinions. The teacher at the gan, the kindergarten telling me what she thought. Automatically, they see triplets and say, oh, what week were they born? That’s why they are behaving this way. I didn’t have that confidence and that’s when it started being hard for me because that’s when I started hearing opinions and that’s when it started being hard for me and I lost my confidence. I’m very aware of it. That’s why I admire my mother so much because I know how hard it can be out there.

So, going back to that, they always expose you to sound and hearing, because if you pay attention, people tend to around deaf or hearing impaired children to talk less because they think that she can’t hear, so what’s the point. They don’t realize and they don’t do it on purpose. I’m not talking about teachers and parents. I’m talking about people in general, that’s how people react. Automatically, we think that it’s probably pointless if they’re not gonna hear. My mother always says the opposite, talk as much as possible. She says that when I started talking, I didn’t stop talking.”

LS: “When I worked at a school for the deaf, I would hear all sorts of people asking questions of, what’s that like? One person would say, it must be so quiet in the lunch room. I said no, if you have 200 students in a lunch room, it gets noisy. There’s kind of this misconception and all sorts of misconceptions and stereotypes that go on. That’s a big part of what we do on this show is try to bring people’s stories and kind of humanize this lots of times for parents who are holding a two-week old with news and are like what just happened? What is our life going to look like? What are our expectations for this child?”

CK: “Right. So, that’s what I talk a lot about in my class, is expectations. That’s the word. What are our expectations for our child? I know that my mother decided, her goal like you spoke about on your other podcast, is what’s your goals for your children? I think it’s a big part of it. Her goal was very clear to her. It came to clear to her that she wants to raise a child that’s going to become independent. A child that’s going to be an independent adult that’s going to live her own life independently, get married and have children, have a job and a career. I know that’s what she thought. That was her vision and that’s what she was aiming for. And that’s why she didn’t give up and that’s why she worked so hard with me.

And by the way, I have a younger brother who’s also born with a hearing loss. So, once he was born, she was already on board. She already knew what to do and she got started from day one. He had a little bit more hearing than me, but it was still crucial and she worked with him. From day one, they also mainstreamed me into the regular school system. I don’t remember much of it. I do remember going into first grade and she got me to the regular Hebrew day school and the regular classes. My mother would always say, I want her to have friends and social life with kids her age and in my community. That was important to my mother. I don’t really care about her grades. I care about her social life. Before that, in order to get me into that school, she said that she did not leave the principal’s office until they would accept me. That’s how confident she was in herself. That’s why I say if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be the way I am now. Because she was so confident, she knew what she wanted and she was determined to get it. And they accepted me. They didn’t have a choice.

I remember going to this school in grade 1. I know today, as a mother, parents are always so nervous about sending their kid to first grade. They think, are they ready? Is he ready emotionally? Does he know his letters? Does he know his numbers? How much does he know? I remember being that nervous mother as well. But my mother wasn’t nervous. I was behind, I only started to listen when I was three to the basics. I was behind. I remember sitting in class and the teacher was saying to turn to page ten or twelve, I don’t know. I didn’t know where the page was, I remember that. But I do remember checking my friend next to me, looked to which page she went and I followed and I copied her. That sticks in my mind still today because I’m very good about that. I’m very good at looking around and checking for cues and that’s what I do. I learn a lot from that.

From that I want to explain a very important belief that I have, that children and adults with disabilities will figure it out. They really do have the capabilities of figuring it out, a lot of times more than the professionals because they are living with the disability so they need to figure it out. You’re not living in my body, I know what I need in order to figure out what page to go to. That’s how I did it. That’s how I did it in school until slowly my mother would come with me, introduce me to the teacher and tell the teacher that I need to sit in the front row. Give her all the instructions. I remember in fourth grade, I told my mother, please don’t come with me anymore. I want to go by myself.

I recently asked my mother if she remembers this, and she said yes. So, I asked her, how did it make you feel when I said it? She said it was very hard for her. She was like, what? You want to go by yourself? That was in her goal and her vision but she wasn’t ready yet. I remember myself as a child, I didn’t like it when she came and introduced me to the teacher. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like being singled out and treated differently. I liked to be treated like everyone else. Till today, even in other aspects of my life, I’m a mother of triplets. I don’t want special attention and I want to be treated like everyone else. I don’t want to be singled out. And that’s the same as I was as a kid. I lived like that and always aimed to be like everyone else. I pushed myself a lot to do that. This is a big part of me and what I teach. That’s why it’s important for me to share my personal story and understand where I am coming from.”

LS: “Yeah, the ability for children to compensate and to find what they need and the answers from other ways. But isn’t that also, something that many of us struggle with and worry about for our patients and our children, that it can be really taxing and that there is so much listening and fatigue and it takes so much more energy to do those things. Whereas in another context, maybe you could have had more support and it would have been easier to find the page because that would have been more accessible to you in a way that you didn’t have to fight for it. What are your thoughts on that?”

CK: “I didn’t feel like I had to fight for it. I just felt like I was figuring out a way. And my beliefs are, I don’t believe that life is supposed to be easy. Not everyone has a disability, but everyone has something that they deal with or have some sort of challenge. It might not be a visible disability that we see or that we are aware of, but people have challenges. Maybe they come from a home with challenges or they are in a difficult situation. Who knows?! Everybody deals with different challenges. But that’s life. Life comes with surprises, life comes with ups and downs, and children that are put in the real life, figure out a way. They become stronger and they learn from these challenges. That’s what built me. That’s what built me to who I am today. To learn and figure out the situation.

Even today, I’ll tell you a scary story also before smartphones, a very quick, scary story that turned out fine. But I lived in Israel, I’m trying to remember, no I came back from Canada to Israel for summer vacation and I went in the wrong line for boarding. I went by myself, I must have been like sixteen. I was waiting in the wrong boarding line to get on the plane. I saw I was in the wrong boarding line. So, when I gave them my ticket, they were like you are on the wrong line. Your plane just took off. I missed my flight. So, they sent me to another flight. They were really sweet. They sent me on a different flight and I ended up having a stop over somewhere where I wasn’t supposed to have a stopover. I ended up needing to call my mother. I pick up the phone and I cannot hear a thing on the phone. This is before smartphones, before WhatsApp, before SMS, which makes life so much easier. I picked up the phone and I couldn’t talk to my mother. I ended up asking a stranger to talk to my mother.

I’m just giving that example that I asked a stranger to help me out. Like, I figured out a way. Obviously, it wasn’t something that I would have liked to happen, but the fact that I knew what to do and I knew how to cope with the situation, comes from the place of always having to try to figure out and cope with the situation. And you never know when a challenging situation is going to come up.

I find that, even in children that are healthy and well, we want them to learn and know how to deal with challenges along the way. Parents are always asking me, “What’s my role as a parent?” They want to jump in and help, they want to give their kids more. They want to but then the kids are becoming more and more dependent on us and not independent. I want to raise independent children starting from cooking their own food in the kitchen. “But no, the fire is hot, it’s dangerous.” Okay, you’re the mother, you can decide from what age, but are you going to let them at age ten or are you going to wait until they are fifteen? You decide, you’re the parent. But really believing that all children are capable of so much more than what you see and than what we know. We’re more afraid but really they are capable of so much more and they feed off of our fears.”

LS: “That’s so true. Okay, I wanted to ask you about that day where you told your mom not to come with you (to school) anymore. Did you do the self-advocacy and say, I need to sit in the front and all that, or did you not want to speak about it or address it? How did it go?”

CK: “I did, I did ask for the front seat because I knew that I needed it. I needed it to hear. I did need that. I wasn’t in denial that I needed it but I liked being able to take care of myself.”

LS: “Yeah, exactly. I just wanted to get that. It’s one thing to say, don’t come with me and then go sit in the back and isolate, but you were ready to say, don’t come with me. I got this for myself.”

CK: “You know what, this is a class that the kids knew me and I knew them. I think being in a regular society, that’s what happens. They learned me and I learned them.

When I made Aliyah and I moved to Israel in grade 9, fourteen years old, it was another challenge. I also told my mom then, I don’t need your help. I’m fourteen, I’m a big girl… Right?! I went to a Hebrew day school so my Hebrew level was very limited. I knew how to read and write, but it was nowhere near the level that I needed but I knew enough to ask for the front seat. The girls looked at me and said no, we are sitting here and they wouldn’t give me the front seat. I could not believe it. I was in shock that they wouldn’t give me the front seat. I was so upset that I had to go up to the teacher and ask her.

I was really disappointed that I had to do that and that I couldn’t just do it on my own without the teacher’s help. But I did that. I did do that. First of all, with the new language and those classes were horrible but I did advocate myself and pushed myself to the front. I was determined to learn the language, and slowly, the class learned me and I learned them and I made friends. Slowly, I overcame the challenges. I graduated high school properly.

I’m not going to say that I didn’t get help. I did get help. I’m not against getting help. But I feel that the help came from me asking for the help. The responsibility is in you, it’s not my parents. First of all, my parents had no idea what was going on in school. Also, their Hebrew wasn’t great. And they were busy trying to settle in a new country, finding jobs, paying the bills, learning the language. They were not involved and I think it was very good that they were not involved because I looked out for myself. I really believe that in general for parents and children. I have children of my own. When it’s their responsibility, they ask for the help. And I always tell them, if you want help, I’m here to give it to you, of course. But it needs to come from them if they want it, because then it can be used for the maximum.”

LS: “Yes, I’m listening. My six year old is going to first grade in the fall, God willing. Hopefully the school will be open, let’s see. Haha.”

CK: “I know, right?! That’s another challenge that we’re dealing with today.”

LS: “Yeah.”

CK: “Just remember, just to address that, a child going to school and I’m going back to that natural instinct of children. They want to learn. It’s interesting, I’m reading actually a really good book now. It’s called, “The Giver of Stars”. It’s very cool because it talks about these four women in the 1930s. There’s no library and they make it their mission to give out books to families that are scattered all over town and they don’t have money. This is what they do. It’s like a travelling library.”

LS: “Wow!”

CK: “It describes, this is like before, we don’t realize how good we have it today. And it describes how the children run up. They go with horses from town to town. They spend days travelling to get these books to these families and the children come running out of the house for the books. They can’t wait to see the books. It just reminds you of the children’s natural desire to learn. And we forget. They felt so priveleged to have a book, so priveleged to be able to learn. And I wanted to go back to that inner desire of our children. I believe that every child has that. It reminds me of when my older children were doing homework and my little ones would say, ‘We want homework too.’

Why did they want homework? Because they want to learn. They also want to learn. You should remember that. Learning to read is like opening up a whole new world for them. It’s exciting.”

LS: “Oh my gosh, I love it. I feel very connected to your message.”

CK: “Yeah, this is what I teach in my workshop and in my classes. And I try to pass this on to parents. I find today that lots of parents are struggling because many children tend to be struggling as well. And when we see our children struggle, of course it makes us worry, it makes us nervous, it makes us scared. It makes us want to do more for them. My mother says, you think I didn’t send her to school? When we made Aliyah to Israel, I remember going for my hearing aid adjustment and it wasn’t good. I was fourteen so I was aware and I was very used to the very professional hearing adjustment in Toronto. I was very attached to them and I liked the way that they did it. It was very hard for me to come to Israel and have someone else touch my hearing aids. They did not do a good job. This was back in 1990.

I remember going to school. Everything was so loud, too loud. Someone would put a cup on the table and my head would jump. It was just horrible, but my mother says, “I sent her to school, I made her go. She told me she can’t hear. She told me it’s not comfortable but I sent her to school anyways. You think I didn’t feel bad? Of course I felt bad but I knew she had to go to school and couldn’t miss a day of school.” That was my mother. She sent us to school and the only time we would stay home is maybe if we had fever. Only if you have fever and you could prove that you’re sick, otherwise there was no excuse. The same thing with hearing. The point is that she was sending me out there to figure it out, to make the best of it. And like I was saying, when our kids are struggling, we tend to do jump in and try to do everything for them.

It’s a dynamic that you get pulled into. It’s hard to get yourself out of it. That’s what I do in my workshop. I help parents get themselves out of this dynamic and to help invite your children to come and pursue their potentials.”

LS: “Yeah, I think exactly when you started talking about struggle, that’s exactly the underlying belief that so many parents have. They don’t want their child to struggle or suffer which of course you don’t want that for anyone, but you come back to the realism and say, this is what we have. What are we going to do about it now?”

CK: “Instead of looking at it as a struggle or as a hardship, look at it as a challenge. Another challenge that we’re going to overcome. Another challenge that we are going to learn from and grow from. It just changes your perspective on how you look at that.”

LS: “You know what’s funny, many times, in these conversations, we use the metaphor of exercise. You have to work out the muscles to get strong, and if you don’t, they get weak. The same with the hearing. We use it all the time. Recently, I actually started exercising in a more regimented way, and I was like, Oh, I get it. Haha.”

CK: “And you really have to work at it right? It doesn’t just come.”

LS: “And it’s really hard.”

CK: “Exactly. Totally! It’s a great example.”

LS: “I’m taking my audiology metaphors and I’m applying them to my exercise routine.”

CK: “It’s a great example. It’s the same thing I always say, “Life is like a gym.” We go to the gym to work on those muscles and strengthen them. I remember my son who is now twenty, as a teenager, I hope it’s okay to say this, I hope he doesn’t get offended, but he was really lazy, okay?! Really lazy and he did not move. When he started joining the gym, I was shocked. I never believed that was going to happen. That’s just another example that you never know where your kids are going to end up. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful to see.

Clearly, he started joining the gym after never doing anything. He failed and flunked sports at school. Never did any type of sport and he decided that he wants to join the gym. So, I said great and it had nothing to do with me. I just paid for the membership. After that, he put himself on such a strict schedule and on a diet. I look at him today and I’m still shocked. It was really unbelievable. He worked hard. He would be there for like a month and still didn’t see a change. But that didn’t stop him. He just knew that it takes time. You don’t stop after a month. It takes time and then you have to upkeep it. It’s work. It’s a working process. And it’s the same thing in life. Life, you go into it and it’s all a gym. Children learn from life. They learn from school situations. They learn from family situations. They learn from all these situations and if we keep jumping in and helping them, they are not going to learn how to do it on their own. To be independent, and confident and be able to solve problems on your own.

It’s hard for parents to see their kids struggle. So, don’t look at it as a struggle, look at it as a learning experience. They are going to learn from this and they are going to grow from this. It’s the same with the gym like you said.”

LS: “Okay, I just do have to take with you the other side of this. Which is, this works up until a point. Because you’re also not going to take a child and throw them in a pool…”

CK: “You know what, someone just told me, it’s funny that you say that. Someone just told me there is a method that does that. I’m trying to think of which mother that told me this. She said that her swimming teacher told her not to put those floaty things on the arms because then they are depending on the floaties and they are not learning how to swim. So, there are methods that do that.”

LS: “Okay, but you won’t throw them in without an adult nearby. There’s still going to be some kind of structure that helps them or holds them. It isn’t going to be, there’s the ocean. Have at it. So, of course there is still a place and much value for services and for all the rehabilitation that we do for anyone who has any kind of disability. That’s the thing about hearing loss, where it overlaps with disability in a lot of ways. But it’s also outside in other ways. It’s important to acknowledge that.

We have a lot of patients, a lot of listeners where the deafness or hearing loss is maybe the sixth or seventh problem or maybe I won’t say problem, just something that they are dealing with: medically or other intellectual disabilities that are really at play. So, as much as I appreciate and really respect this approach, we just need to also say that it’s not for every child that everything is a challenge that we can overcome. Sometimes, there are things we are going to have to get services for.”

CK: “Okay, but I’d like to say, even my parents took me to speech therapy once a week for many years. I did benefit from those services. Just to add to that, especially with any kind of disability, the truth is we really don’t know what a person is capable of, including your children. So, even if you are going to get help and for these services, don’t limit, you don’t know what they are capable of doing. Don’t decide for your child where he can reach and what his limits are. You do not know, we are not God. We don’t know what our children’s limits are, even based on experience.

Every child is different, some children will push further and reach. It’s very important to go in it open minded and just keep the doors open. Knowing that he is capable, my main line is that he is capable of so much more than what he is showing you. Whether or not you are getting services, just know that he is capable of so much more. He naturally wants to. It’s a natural desire to want to try as much as possible and to join the society, just like a healthy child does when he starts to crawl, walk and talk. The same thing here.”

LS: “Yeah, exactly. And I think, like you said before, that it’s our fear that we’re not capable in the same exact line. Parents are more capable than they know for themselves.”

CK: “Of course. Also, when you are dealing with disability, they will need to figure it out. Sometimes, just letting go of the rope a little bit, you know. Just let them explore, let them try. I once saw a video of someone with CP (Cerebral Palsy), I don’t remember his name, sorry I don’t remember. But he explained when getting ready for school one, he was in the room just doing it by himself. She would not come in the room to help him. It took him a long to get his socks on and everything on. But he did it. She just waited and waited. She was able to do that. To give him the time and all the time he needed to get dressed.

Like I said, you have that fear and you don’t want them to struggle but on the other hand, if they do succeed in doing it, it’s an amazing accomplishment for them. So, being able to take a step aside is hard. Telling a parent to just take a step aside is hard. That’s sometimes the hardest thing. You want to jump in and help but sometimes the best thing is not to.”

LS: “Wow, you are absolutely right. I hope that maybe the listeners will get some inspiration and get a load of confidence for themselves in their abilities and opportunities for their children.”

CK: “Right, definitely.”

LS: “Would you, I mean you have already given us so much advice, but is there like one message, the takeaway to end us off, what would you say?”

CK: “I would say, there is nothing wrong with having high expectations. Don’t put a stamp on your child, even with all the diagnosis and all the things that are written about him, there’s still so much more beyond. We ourselves don’t pursue our potentials so our children can definitely reach much more than what you see. That’s my main line, what you see is not all there is. There is so much more. Don’t put a stamp on him and don’t limit your expectations. Why not raise your expectations?!

I have a teacher that taught my children when they were in kindergarten, in nursery when they were three. She taught them the body parts. And she told me, I also threw in there the organs and taught them about the heart. I couldn’t believe that my three year old twins came home knowing about the lungs and the heart. It was unbelievable. And she said, yeah I push up a higher level and I teach it. If they get it, they get it. If they don’t, they don’t. I always give them a little higher. Always aim for a little higher. Don’t be afraid to aim for higher. That’s okay. It’s up to them. If they want to, they’ll take it. If they don’t, they don’t.”

LS: “Okay, I have a question for you. Have you looked into cochlear implant surgery?”

CK: “Oh, I’m glad you addressed that. I wanted to address that as well. I have two cochlear implants.”

LS: “Oh, when did you do that?”

CK: “I totally left that out. It came into my head to talk about it and then we got distracted. This is what I thought about when you were talking about the phone. Anyways, thank God, I am able to use a phone. In general, I’m able to use a phone. And when the triplets were, I don’t remember how old, but I had the baby who was eleven months. He was eleven months and I couldn’t hear. My hearing went down drastically. My good ear became really bad. I couldn’t hear on the phone at all, I couldn’t make a single phone call which was really hard for me, because like I said to you, I like to be really independent. I like to take care of myself and I lost that. There was no WhatsApp or SMSs back then so that was really hard. I remember calling my mom and saying that I needed her help to make phone calls. I really didn’t like that. That’s one thing.

My parents wanted me to do the cochlear implants when I was in high school but I didn’t want to. Because me, miss independent wanted to be like everyone else and didn’t want to do surgery. I felt like I was doing so well. I felt like I didn’t need it. That was good when you are not responsible for other people, and you’re only responsible for yourself.

When you have children, and for example, you can’t hear them unless they are in the room with them. If I’m in the kitchen washing dishes, I couldn’t hear. This was with the hearing aids and before I lost more hearing. I couldn’t hear from one room to the next. They’re playing in one room and I’m in another, I don’t hear them. If I’m washing the dishes, I don’t hear them. Like I did not hear them. When I was walking home from gan (kindergarten) with them, I could not hear what they were telling me. I told them they had to wait until we get home and then you’ll tell me. All of these situations that I didn’t hear them, and I did feel a little helpless. Like, I did feel this wasn’t good. I don’t have control. I have four little children and I really didn’t feel like I could handle the situation. So, that was one and then when my hearing went down drastically, I said, that’s it. I have to do the cochlear implants. I have no choice.

I went to do it and my baby was fifteen months old. I booked the surgery right away. He was eleven months when I decided and when he was fifteen months, I did the surgery. I only did it in one ear to start with. It wasn’t common to do it in both ears at once, so we did one ear and it was life changing. Life changing! I thought I was doing so well before with the hearing aids, but I realized how much I was missing. Hearing the children from one room to the next. I was toilet training them and they would call me from the bathroom and say that they finished. I could hear them so I could come. It’s like you said before that listening can be very tiring. And I didn’t realize how much energy I put in to listening. I didn’t realize it. I wasn’t aware of it because that’s what I did.

Once I did the cochlear implant, it was like the sounds would just come to my ear. That’s what I felt like, like it’s here. I don’t have to work hard to hear it. It was unbelievable. I could not believe it and thought why didn’t I listen to my parents and do this sooner. Lot of sounds. I could walk with them to gan and hear my kid talking to me and telling me stories and hold their hand and have a conversation. I could hear the birds, I could hear my husband chewing on his food, which I never heard before.”

LS: “Hahaha. Do you want to hear him chewing his food?”

CK: “Now, the brain gets used to it. You don’t hear it anymore. In the beginning, it was so loud. I was like, ‘I can’t eat, you’re so loud.’ It was really amazing. Also, I realized that I wasn’t hearing people’s names properly. I discovered that one of my husband’s uncle’s name, I thought it was Derall, but it was Gerald. I was just discovering new sounds all the time.”

LS: “So, when did you get the second one?”

CK: “The second one, I did a few years later. I don’t remember the exact amount of years between them but it was quite a few years later. And now I don’t know how I did it with just one. With two, it’s amazing. It’s life changing. Completely life changing. I don’t think I could do zoom if I didn’t have the cochlear implants. I have to say that in the beginning of the Corona, already a while ago, people told me, ‘why don’t you try doing zoom so you can reach people out of Israel?’ I was too scared to. I didn’t think I could do it because of the hearing but now Corona just threw it in my face. I didn’t have a choice. I had three groups going at the same time. I didn’t want to cancel them. I had to move them to zoom and I just did it. Hashem (God) threw out this challenge and I did it and I overcame it. I did it and I’m so proud of myself that I was able to do that. I actually enjoy to see everyone’s face.”

LS: “Yeah. Do you have the audio streaming sometimes so that it goes direct?”

CK: “Yeah, I have that and I have for only one year, I have it. The other one, it doesn’t come with it, it’s not an advanced version. So, I have it for one year and I use it to talk on the phone, I use it to watch or listen to music. That’s huge. It’s a new one for me. I just bought it a few months ago. It’s huge. I get to listen to music while I’m cooking or exercising. It’s very good.”

LS: “Thank you so much for sharing your message with us today. I’m going to link in the show notes your Facebook page if anybody would like to reach out to you. Again, thank you for coming and sharing your message with all of us.”

CK: “My pleasure. It was great to meet you. Great to talk to you.”

Thank you for being listeners of the All About Audiology podcast. You can find full transcripts of every episode at Come and join us on Instagram and Facebook. Thank you so much for being a listener.

I’m Dr. Lilach Saperstein and this is the All About Audiology podcast.

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