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All About Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss- Episode 49 with Natalia Popham

Welcome back to the All About Audiology podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Lilach Saperstein. I’m an audiologist, a speaker, a podcaster, a parent coach. I do lots of things within this mission of helping people understand: What is hearing? What is hearing loss? What are the impacts of audiology on our day to day lives, in our relationships, and in our ability to communicate and learn. So, we try to take a really big, open, inclusive approach here but I’m always constantly learning. And I want you to know that I’m so grateful for all of you who send me messages on Instagram, on Facebook, and through email. Yes, I am just so blown away by the reach and community that this podcast is creating.

I also would like to tell you, very transparently, that I have not had any sponsors to the show. This is something that is completely self-funded and it really, truly makes a difference if you are able, if you are interested, if the podcast brings you value to become a patron on There are some great perks over there to people who become patrons.

A shout out to Darla who is the first and awesome patron that I have for the show that helps to cover the hosting, the editing, all the time of bringing the guests and producing this show. And in addition, I also want to let you know, that in the past several months, I’ve been doing these workshops with chapters of organizations, specifically with Hands and Voices. But also with other groups, parent groups, other speech therapists. Different workshop topics that can be customized or a topic that I have prepared. And the goal of these workshops is to really dive in to your experience with audiology. Whether it’s a specific topic, like winter is coming and we need to talk about middle ear stuff and how are we going to prevent it and treat it. And what is the whole story with all these ear infections. That’s one topic.

But one of my most popular workshops is the F-I-G Method for Advocacy, which is really an incredible tool that once I explain it and teach it and we work through the workshop, people have a sense that it is useful immediately. That they can apply it to the situations that they are in, that are upsetting, that are difficult, that are challenging right away. Today! They can go and decide what is the conversation that they need to have or not in the world of advocacy.

I also have another workshop that I offer is about breaking the stigma around hearing loss. So many communities have a lot of internalized ableism and issues around what it means to have a disability or how do we treat someone, even within our own family. How do we accept that news? The feeling of grief, sometimes in itself, is a little bit problematic. Someone will say, why are you grieving this thing that other people might celebrate. But everyone goes through their own challenges and has their own history and has their own experience. That is what is so important.

So, if you or your organization, your school, your parent group, anybody who is interested, please contact me and we’ll set up a workshop that is exactly customized to your members, to your group and to your needs. It will help you feel that sense of possibility, the sense that you can do it, and you’re doing an amazing job for yourself, your family or your students. So, feel free to be in touch and we can create an amazing workshop or even series of workshops for you.

With that being said I’m excited to jump into this episode with Natalia Popham, and we actually recorded this episode many, many months ago and then it resurfaced to me that it never made it into the podcast. Natalia reached out to me recently that she is considering studying audiology. Her story is phenomenal and I’m really excited for you to hear it. So, here we go. Welcome to the show.

Welcome back to the All About Audiology podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Lilach Saperstein and today on the podcast, I have a guest. Natalia Popham is going to share her story with a very specific and unique kind of hearing loss and I think it will be very interesting and informative for our listeners.

Dr. Saperstein: “Welcome Natalia!”

Natalia Popham: “Hi, it’s great to be on. I’ll just tell you a little bit about my background and let me know if you have questions or anything. When I was two, my mom took me to a hearing screening. She saw a free hearing screening in the newspaper and she says that she’s not sure if she had an inkling that something was going on or if she just took me because it was a free screening. But when I went, the audiologist that did it said that there were things that I was missing. That I was such an active two year old, they couldn’t be sure that it was hearing loss or that I wasn’t focused and paying attention. They said she should take me back when I was older because there were some red flags but they thought I might just be very active.

I had a little brother the next year and my parents were kind of noticing that she doesn’t respond when her brother responds to the same thing. So, they started testing it. Kind of noticed that there might be something, but life got busy. A couple of years later, right before kindergarten, they did a routine hearing screening for all the kids and that’s when they figured out that I did have hearing loss. At the time it was more mild to moderate, so they wanted to just see how I did with hearing aids.”

LS: “What did your parents say, like if you can remember if they told you, what kind of things were you missing? What were the behaviors or the sounds?”

NP: “Yeah, so with reverse slope hearing loss, it’s changed over the years but at the time, it was mostly just the low frequencies. Mild to moderate hearing loss and I don’t know exactly what decibel it was at the time. Sounds that I was missing were things like “M and N”. I can’t tell the difference between them. I think the sounds that I understand the best are “Tuh, Suh”. Those kinds of sounds up in the high frequencies. They thought maybe I was just being silly and not listening very closely because I would get things wrong that they were saying to me. Or they thought I wasn’t being that obedient. So, they went to the audiologist and actually realized, oh, there is a hearing loss.”

LS: “Yeah. Okay, so let’s just take a moment and explain reverse slope hearing loss. So, we have the audiogram from low frequency sounds to high frequency sounds. And when we do a hearing test we check all those different frequencies that contain all the different sounds of speech because we want to make sure that you can hear all of them. And a typical hearing loss, most of the time, it is sloping, meaning it goes down in the higher frequencies, so that someone can hear those low frequency sounds like vowel sounds. But they actually miss those super high frequencies like, “S, Th, F”. Those are the high frequency sounds. That’s more of a typical hearing loss. Or there is flat, where it’s the same amount of hearing loss across all those sounds. And it’s a little more unusual to have a reverse slope hearing loss where it’s more hearing loss in the lower frequencies. That’s good that you mentioned and you were able to pinpoint that the “M and N” are very similar letters and they are both low frequency.

So, you had that diagnosis right off the bat, during kindergarten age, before you went into kindergarten?”

NP: “So, I went to kindergarten and they got me these green translucent hearing aids that they got me really excited about. So, I wore them for a few years and did well with them. I was very outgoing and precocious and my parents very much made my hearing loss not a big deal. It was just part of life and I do think that’s how it should be. But I think that really helped me see that it wasn’t a big deal. It was just part of my life. I had the support that I needed. They always talked to my teachers at the beginning of the year. They would tell them this is what is going on. Please make sure that you’re facing my daughter when you are talking to her and that she’s in the front of the classroom, things like that. Even if I missed something hearing it, I generally knew what was going on.

Upper elementary and middle school, I started getting more embarrassed because that’s the age you don’t want to be different or anything like that. I thought that I could get away without hearing aids so I would try to do that. My parents let me for a time, they kind of made it my choice as long as I was doing well in school. I did alright but I missed a lot of what was going on as far as conversations, but with doing homework, paying attention and reading books, I was able to keep up until high school. I think my parents started getting worried and told me to start wearing my hearing aids.”

LS: “So, besides for academically, did you also feel it in social situations?”

NP: “You know, when I was a kid, I don’t think I noticed it as much because I just wanted to read my book and just be left alone. So, I don’t know if I noticed it very much until I started getting a little older and wanted to understand more of what was going on with my peers and make friends. I had friends but I don’t think I noticed it as much or cared as much when I was younger.”

LS: “Yeah, we hear that a lot from parents of that middle school age, like fourth or fifth grade it starts and it starts to be a bigger deal. Kids don’t know what they are missing, anyone with hearing loss doesn’t know what they are missing because they missed it.”

NP: “Right. I think I had no idea what I was missing too. I didn’t realize that I was missing so much during that time and to me, like I said, I was embarrassed by it. I wish I hadn’t been but I was. Just at that age. I thought the payoff was that I don’t look different, no one will know. But I’m sure people were like, of course, why doesn’t she come and sing?”

LS: “But then you miss the whispers and the jokes and the things that go on and you’re getting the social equivalent of missing out on those things. But you know, we were all kids once.”

NP: “You know, something interesting that I’ve learned, I didn’t know that reverse slope hearing loss was less common and so a couple years ago I started doing my own research because I wasn’t getting very good answers at the time. Something that I learned was that a lot of times with reverse slope hearing loss, we perceive sounds differently than other people and I never knew that. But it made a lot of sense when I found that out too. So, I really didn’t understand what I was missing or what things were supposed to sound like.”

LS: “What kind of sounds, specifically if you have an idea?”

NP: “Yeah, so my husband is a musician, a singer. He actually noticed, because I’ve had voice training but was never really successful with it since I couldn’t really hear very well. He noticed that when I would sing, it would be accurate but not correct because I was hearing differently than what the music was. It would be consistent because I thought I was hearing one thing but really the music was another thing. Since I had never heard what would be considered an average hearing, I don’t know exactly how it’s different. I thought that was interesting. I sing to pitches.”

LS: “Do you mean the pitches?”

NP: “Yes.”

LS: “Wow, that’s very interesting. Okay, so take us back to high school. After your middle school break, did you bring them back in high school?”

NP: “Yes. My family moved to a different state in high school, and at that point I had realized in middle school how much I needed my hearing aids and I think I had gotten to the point of being willing to try them again because I didn’t want to miss out. Especially with moving, I didn’t want to start out not having a clue of what people were saying or conversations going on. So, I asked my parents to get me some new hearing aids in high school, which they did.”

LS: “They weren’t green and sparkly? Haha.”

NP: “No, they weren’t green and sparkly. They were actually purple. Haha. I thought that was kind of fun at the time. I was ready to be in a new place in life where I wasn’t going to be so self-conscious. You know, it doesn’t always work out great in high school but I wanted to try.”

LS: “Keep going. We want to hear more about your life. Hehehe.”

NP: “So, I went through high school and was wearing aids. My mom asked me over the years, in different times if I wanted to learn American Sign Language and I wish, now as an adult, that I had taken her up on it. Because now I’m trying to learn it because my hearing has gotten a lot worse and I realized how amazing ASL is. But at the time, I turned her down because I didn’t know anyone who signed and I saw it as, again, something that would make me different and didn’t really see the benefit of it because I wasn’t immersed in the deaf community at all.

Some things that helped me to be successful in school and social situations as well was teaching people what I needed: For them to face me, have good lighting, if they are close to me and I can see them, then I could read their lips. Things like that would help. And even though I didn’t learn sign language, between advocating for myself, which can be hard to learn as a young person. Sometimes, I did it well. Sometimes, I didn’t do it well at all and should have spoken up more. There were a lot of years where I missed a lot of things because I didn’t speak up for myself. But that’s something I’ve learned as an adult, it is worth it to say something because I want to know what’s going on and be involved in the situation.”

LS: “That’s so powerful. Self-advocacy is one of those things that is very hard, like you said to speak up for yourself and have the confidence to say what you need. I love the way you said it, “teach them what I need.” It’s true. People need education and don’t know what you need unless you tell them.”

NP: “Right. I think in the beginning it was really hard to advocate for myself because I didn’t know what I needed or I felt like I was being pushy. But then I was just missing out so over they years, I have learned that I do need to do that and it’s not pushy if I say it in a nice way, like hey, can you please move your hands from your mouth, I need to be able to read your lips. Something like that. I’m really lucky, my friends and family have been really good about that.

Something about reverse slope hearing loss is that a lot of times, our speech is very normal, so people don’t realize that we have hearing loss. For me, the easiest voices to understand are women with high pitched voices, who speak loudly. I can’t really hear children or men very well. I know it’s different for everyone depending on what frequencies their hearing loss is in. Even as an adult, I’m a teacher and I teach third and fourth grade, I have had to learn how to teach my students how to speak to me because I can’t hear children’s voices very well. So, they know they need to be right in front of me and I need to be able to see them.

I think having hearing loss has actually helped me a lot as a teacher because it has helped me be very aware of my environment because if you can’t hear, you have to be very aware of what’s going on when you are teaching a class to little kids. I do believe that it’s something that God has allowed to be in my life because it’s changed who I am as a person from who I would have been otherwise. I think it’s taught me, first of all about self-advocacy and confidence and also being aware of my surroundings…”

LS: “In a previous episode, we were talking about how children who have hearing loss actually sometimes tend to be really good communicators because they had so much focus growing up. They had therapies, they had people, and IEP meetings and communication strategies. People were always focusing on them so that they can be able to communicate. So, sometimes, they come out ahead in that arena specifically which might seem counter-intuitive, but we’ve seen that.”

NP: “Definitely. I think you have to put in so much focus on communicating that it becomes second nature after so many years of working hard on it.”

LS: “So, what happened after high school?”

NP: “Back and forth. Most of the time, I was sold on it. I still got a little self-conscious, because you know it’s those teen years, but it was worth it for me at this point because I realized I still needed them. I was trying to do AP classes and do well in school, I was involved in a lot of things so I needed to know what was going on.

In college, I started learning more about my hearing loss and kind of realizing that everyone, whether they have some sort of physical or mental disability, whether they have something in their past, everyone has something. So, I started realizing, this is okay. This is part of who I am, but it doesn’t make me better or worse, it’s just part of my life. Just in college, meeting more people and having that realization. So, I had some services from the disability support services, like having a note taker because I couldn’t really read the professor’s lips and take notes very well. Things like that. I kept wearing my hearing aids. It wasn’t really a big thing in the center of my mind very much, there was so much more going on in school, that it was just part of my life.

After college, I got married right after. A couple years ago, I had my first child and my hearing started getting a lot worse. We don’t actually know what was the cause of my hearing loss. My great grandma was adopted so it’s possible that it’s genetic and they just don’t know. They also said it could be viral, they just never knew. They ruled out things like otosclerosis in the ears that could form reverse slope hearing loss. So, we don’t know what caused it. But it started getting a bit worse and I remember when my son was about one and a half, there was a two week period where my mother in law, my husband and my best friend all told me that they think my hearing was getting worse, you should get it checked.

So, I went to the audiologist I was seeing at the time and she just turned up my hearing aids without testing my hearing or anything. She just kind of turned them up a little bit and was like, okay try it. So, I went, which was not, for your listeners Lilach will say this, it’s not the best.”

LS: “Yes, my mouth is agape. You can’t see me but, oh my gosh, yes, always ask for an updated test, especially if you think there has been a change. Oy oy oy.”

NP: “But I also did not know what was best. I had been to audiologists every year all my life. But I was a kid, I wasn’t trained. I wasn’t a professional so I didn’t know what best practices were or what should be done. So, I went back after, I can’t remember how much longer, maybe a few weeks or a few months, and I was like, I’m still having a lot of trouble with the hearing aids. Sounds were louder but I’m really not understanding much of anything. I’m almost purely relying on lip reading. So, she did a hearing test and it had changed, only about 15 decibels, and my hearing had been tested less than a year ago, so that was still, well she told me it was a significant change. But she basically said, hmm, I don’t know why that is but I wouldn’t worry about it.”

LS: “So, for our listeners, if it’s 5 dB change, that’s test/retest reliability. That means you do the test today, and you do it tomorrow. Maybe you’re tired, maybe you’re a little less focused. 5 dB up or down isn’t really that significant. But 15 dB certainly is a change, especially if it’s at more than one frequency AND coupled with your own reporting that this is a big change. So, just FYI right there.”

NP: “Yes, so that was bad. I was starting to get the sense of that, even though I didn’t really know yet. So, I started doing research on my own. I was frustrated. I felt blown off because I don’t know what she meant to communicate, but what I heard was, oh it’s changed a lot but it’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it. That’s what I heard. I’m sure that’s not what she meant. But, I started doing my own research just reading a lot of articles by audiologists and even using YouTube. I found Dr. Lilach Saperstein’s podcast actually because I was researching audiologists to try to learn more just about hearing and hearing loss.

As I was researching my own hearing loss, I started getting more and more intrigued about how hearing works and how amplification works. I had no idea that there is such a diversity of people’s experience with hearing loss. I hadn’t even known that mine was rare until I started doing research and realizing but I think the number was one in 12,000 people with hearing loss have this kind. And my understanding was that it’s not for better or worse, it’s just unusual. But as I was doing my own research, I started just finding people who are really passionate about making sure that people who are going through this journey, understand what’s going on and are able to have resources. That was hugely helpful to me.

I found a YouTube channel with Dr. Cliff, and he does a lot of education. But through watching his videos, I realized that I had not, through all my years of audiology experience, I hadn’t had some of the basic best practices done like real ear measures and things like that. I actually went and found a different provider who I had seen good ratings for online and I saw that she does some of these best practices, that now I know what to look for.”

LS: “I am so proud of you because that takes a lot of courage. Because, you know, you buy hearing aids through one person and they are licensed, they have a whole practice, so why shouldn’t you trust them? But if you don’t like it or you don’t feel comfortable or if you find out that something is off, it takes a lot of courage to say, I’m gonna get another opinion. I’m gonna hear from someone else. That’s really brave, good for you!!!”

NP: “Thank you. I think I was just really frustrated enough with my experience so I wanted to look for something that was going to work.”

LS: “The same audiologist who changed your hearing aids without doing a test, and then did the test and told you not to worry about it and also wasn’t doing real ear measurements in her office…”

NP: “Yes.”

LS: “So, for those of you who don’t know, real ear measurements, REM, is a way to test if the hearing aids are giving enough amplification or giving enough louder sounds, making sounds louder specifically to your hearing loss, specifically in your ear. So, they put a tiny, little microphone in a tube on the other end of your hearing aid inside your ear and then make sure the settings in the computer match exactly how they are supposed to to the targets in the software. It’s definitely a best practice to have REM if you have hearing aids.”

NP: “Yes, and it turns out that it was very critical that she had not done those. Because I went to my new audiologist and that was the first thing she did and she said, oh goodness, these hearing aids are broken. Basically, they were only amplifying the high frequencies which is exactly what I don’t need. Because for me, the portion of my hearing where the loss is more mild, still there is a loss but it’s more mild, is like 8,000 hertz. For that to be the only part being amplified, no wonder I was missing almost everything. So, it wasn’t amplifying any of the mid or low frequencies that I needed. So, she kind of talked to me about what my options were which I appreciated. In the past, it was always like, here’s the hearing aids that I think you should get, here’s the dome, good day.

So, she talked to me about what my options were. She said that I could send them in to be fixed. She talked to me about what that would cost and what that would look like for my hearing prescription. She did also say that I could choose to get new hearing aids because the kind that I had were not a good fit for my hearing loss. First of all, for my particular hearing loss, I needed to have ear molds. I had just the little domes and they were letting out a lot of sound. They weren’t nearly powerful enough and they weren’t on the computer fitted to my prescription, they were fitted more to a regular high frequency loss. So, no wonder I was having all this frustration with them.

So, I did decide to just get new hearing aids because I wanted some that I knew would work, and were a little better and higher quality. Because I have an active, and busy lifestyle so for me that was worth it. And for the ear molds that I needed, so this audiologist was great. Even though it didn’t benefit her, she showed me that I qualified for this Starkey Hearing Out program where they helped pay for my hearing aids, it was awesome. I remember telling all my friends and family, keep this in your prayers. I’m applying to this but I don’t know if I’ll get it. And then when I sent in my application because it was paperwork and all that, they said it would probably take a couple of months to get back to me, that was the normal. I heard back two weeks later that I had gotten accepted and then I was able to get the ball rolling really quickly. For me it was so amazing because I’m a mom of two young kids now, at the time was only one, working full time, busy otherwise. So, it just helped so much to make life easier to have that piece of equipment working.”

LS: “That’s amazing. Really good for you. Then when you got the new hearing aids, did you feel that there was a significant difference?”

NP: “Yes, the funny thing is that I was thinking that even though my hearing had changed and it had been better in the past, I was now hearing better than I remember hearing before because I just had technology that was functioning properly. And my audiologist, I don’t know exactly how she programmed mine, but I know that she did not just take the factory settings that they have. I think she went from the ground up because my hearing loss is the opposite of what it normally is, she adjusted it to what it should be for mine, not just what the hearing aid manufacturer said it should be.”

LS: “Exactly. So, there is something called first fit, which is what the computer just offers you right off the bat. And then there is fine tuning, where you can go in and really set based on different frequencies. And when you are doing REM, you can get really accurate fine tuning on the hearing aid programming. That’s very, very important, specifically for unique kind of hearing losses. And there’s actually something, we have a lot of audiology students who listen to the podcast, so this might not apply or be interesting to everybody, but I know the students who are learning are always grabbing on to this stuff. They are excited about it just like I was in school and never lost, I continue to be excited.

There is a concept called the upward spread of masking. The upward spread of masking means that if you give a lot of amplification in low frequencies, it can actually be detrimental in the high frequencies. It can affect, too much gain in the lows can actually start to mask and cover up the gain that’s in the high frequencies. And that’s just a natural phenomenon in acoustics and in our ear. So, when you have reverse slope hearing loss, it’s very difficult to be careful not to over-amplify because if you over-amplify the lows, you get this upward spread of masking going into the higher frequencies. You have to do a lot of fine tuning to avoid that.

Done with technicalities, back to your story.”

NP: “Right, those are the things that I just started to learn about from my research and had been getting so interested in and fascinated in learning more. My experience when I got these new hearing aids that maybe for the first time were fit properly was that I was hearing sounds that I had never heard before, or at least didn’t remember ever hearing before. A lot of it was background sounds that I had forgotten about, like the road, appliances and even just, I didn’t realize and this part was kind of a bittersweet. I didn’t realize how much with my son, my really little boy that I wasn’t hearing him or understanding him. So, that’s something where I noticed a big difference, just in communication with people as well. I think that I still do struggle with my hearing aids in certain situations, like if there is more than one person talking. It’s still such a huge difference just having them fit properly.”

LS: “That’s really great. And a very important point that you bring up about how hearing aids are not going to be perfect and helpful in every situation. If there is a lot of talkers, if you are in a room that’s really noisy… Sometimes we have patients come in and say, well I was at a wedding and it was very hard to hear. Yes, everyone, even people who have typical hearing have trouble hearing at a wedding. There’s very loud music with the band playing, there are about 100 people talking, people clinking glasses, in a big reverberant hall. That’s really not an ideal communicative situation. It will be more challenging obviously for someone who has a hearing loss, but it’s not the place to decide if your hearing aids are doing what they should be doing. That’s a challenging place. So, it’s really good that you’re also able to evaluate how well they are helping you with some realistic expectations, like in the gym while everyone’s playing dodge ball, it’s going to be very hard to hear the students.

I think you have very good classroom decorum, can you tell us a little bit more about how you talk to your students and keep them talking to you one at a time and keep them facing you, and all of that?”

NP: “Yes, it has helped my classroom management quite a bit. My first year of teaching was, for anyone, a hard experience. It helped prepare me for being a better teacher now. But my first year of teaching, I did not know very much about classroom management and I didn’t know how to tell my students to speak to me. And it was middle school at a more challenging school so there were all these factors. But since that time, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me as a teacher just to be able to manage them better, teach them about my hearing loss and not make it in a way that they are going to take advantage of me or something. Kids are mostly good but everyone has their moments.

So, at the beginning of the year, I just tell my students a little bit about me in general and I learn a little bit about them. The first couple of days, we are kind of setting up the expectations for your classroom, getting to know your students and getting them to know you. Most teachers that I know do that. So, as I’m doing that, one of the things that I tell them is that I’m hard of hearing, I can’t hear very well in either of my ears. I wear hearing aids and lip read. Here are some things that I expect from you like the regular things like raising your hand when you want to speak, but also I tell them I need them to look at me when they are talking, I need to be able to see your mouth because I rely on lip reading with my hearing aids. Also, something as an adult, I have been learning sign language so I teach them some sign language too. Because sometimes with all the sounds going on, I still can’t understand them because there are other classes next door, kids will drop pencils or shuffle papers, things like that. Just sounds that you can’t avoid.

So, I’ve taught them some signs to use like if they want to use the restroom or get water or if they need help with something, I’ve taught them just some basic signs so then I know the kind of general idea of what they need. Then I can talk to them more, get closer and figure out exactly what they need if it’s more complex.”

LS: “That’s so valuable. That’s so helpful to have another mode of communication. The thing that comes up for me when you talk about that is kind of like a little pinch about how so many children who are deaf and hard of hearing don’t get access to sign language. They are the kids that really would benefit from it and rely on it. It’s so obvious to many of us that lots of people would benefit from having additional visual communication, even just basic signs in lots of situations. So, that’s where my heart goes out to that issue in the world of deaf education.

But good for you, and lucky students. Hahaha.”

NP: “Right. I think it does benefit them too, because even them using the signs to tell me what they want cuts down on some of the chatter or chaos that could otherwise happen just by people talking. Talking is not bad at the right time, but I have noticed that it helps there be a little less chaos. Some of the students really have fun with it. I had one little girl last year who told me that she was trying to teach herself sign language so she could communicate better with me. And I just thought that was so sweet. There are some of them that really latch onto it and think that it’s cool. Others are kind of like, okay Miss, we’ll try. But I really wish I had learned it as a child. My parents gave me the option but I don’t think I realized at the time how valuable it would be.”

LS: “Natalia, can you tell us a little bit about the advice that you have for other people who are going through what you went through, either for themselves or parents of children with hearing loss. What are some pieces of advice that you would give them along their journey? Though you have already some wise and helpful things, like self-advocacy, learning about your own hearing loss and understand it better and switching providers if you don’t like them. Those are all very, very wise pieces of wisdom. But is there anything else you would like to share with us?”

NP: “I think sometimes when parents realize that their children have hearing loss, if it’s not a deaf family or someone where this is something we kind of were expecting, I think a lot times when it’s families who only have experience with hearing and there hasn’t been any hearing loss, sometimes it could be scary or seem like this huge thing. I know my parents went through that at first. But I would say just not to get discouraged or think that it’s this huge thing that’s going to define your child’s life. Because my experience has been that yes, it impacts communication, and yes it’s been part of my life, but it hasn’t made it any worse by any means. If anything, it has taught me different things that maybe I’ve had to learn or overcome but that has actually ended up benefiting me.

So, for parents not to get discouraged or think that this is going to be a hardship for their family or their child. I really appreciate that my parents always just taught us, okay look directly at my face. Honestly, that benefits any child because that’s respectful. So, your child is just as likely to have like anyone else a happy, normal life that is full. Not to get discouraged and not think that it’s going to be a bad thing.”

LS: “That’s beautiful. I was also so impressed and happy that you brought up that you can find resources online. Support groups and informational videos and the All About Audiology podcast. I’m so honored that you reached out to me because it’s really the whole point of my podcast, is doing this exact thing. Hearing from other people’s experience and gaining from each other’s wisdom and knowing that you’re not alone and you don’t have to know everything at first and there are people out there who are ready to help you.”

NP: “Right.”

LS: “I really appreciate you coming on the show. Natalia, if anyone wants to reach out to you or have any questions for you, where can they find you?”

NP: “They can contact my email which is or find me on Facebook. Thank you for your time and letting me share my story.”

LS: “Thank you so much for sharing. It’s really been a pleasure.”

Additional Resources:

And here is a Facebook group I’ve found helpful for everyone to share information, made up of people with hearing loss, Audiologists, & parents

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