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Doctors/other people not believing you're deaf

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Messages: 1 - 5 of 5
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by treasureBelle (U10483514) on Friday, 1st February 2008

    hi everyone

    sorry, this is going to be rather long.
    this is my first time on See Hear, im usually to be found on Ouch talk or the Cane and Able. smiley - smiley

    i was just wondering, has anyone else ever had problems with doctors/other people not believing that you're deaf?

    i was born deaf (though i can hear now), and at first the doctors didn't notice it. after 1 or two years (too young for me to remember properly, i got all this from my mum but am still a little vague on the details as to times/dates/age etc), my mum had tried everything she could to tell the doctors i was deaf, but they wouldn't believe her. i hadn't started talking yet, and was also probably in quite a bit of pain... my mum says i used to suck my hand so hard when i was little, i lift marks on my hand where my teeth had been. still the doctors wouldn't listen, and said that i couldn't be deaf because i turned round when they rattled stuff behind my ear; mum kept telling them about how i wouldn't answer when someone called my name, and that i wouldn't even respond when someone called to say it was mealtimes (very unusual for me now) but they still didn't accept i was deaf.
    but still they only noticed i hadn't started to talk yet, so sent me to a speech therapist, who spent a couple of minutes with me and said, "why have they sent me a child who is deaf?" it was only with her help that my mum managed to persuade the doctors to listen.
    (i thought *I* was supposed to be the deaf person in this entire situation! smiley - laugh)
    so, *finally* after several years, i managed to get an operation which allowed me to hear.

    (ok, i know this last bit isn't *exactly* about being deaf, but i find it funny anyway)

    yay! but i still didn't begin to talk even after the operation, so mum was told to talk to me a lot to encourage me to talk. eventually, i said... "PLEASE stop talking mummy!" smiley - laugh smiley - laugh

    anyone else got experiences of doctors/other people not believing that you're deaf?

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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by HeartSinger (U10482925) on Monday, 4th February 2008

    You don't say, but I'm guessing from your story that you were born in a time before they had technology available to test hearing in newborn infants. (This is not that long ago, so it's not that big a guess anyway. It is only since I think about the 90s or possibly 80s that the technology has become available; within a few years after that I think most states in the US started requiring that all newborns be tested automatically within days of birth. I'm curious if they have a similar requirement in the UK?)

    I think your story is actually fairly common, especially for deaf children who have some residual hearing. My parents started wondering if I might be deaf when I was around 18 months and still not talking. They did take me to one doctor who used a very experimental test to test my hearing and turned up nothing except "possibly" a "mild" loss in my left ear (my left ear, as it turns out from later, more accurate testing, has very little hearing at all!) After that, doctors came up with all kinds of theories for why I wasn't talking including brain damage, or psychological disturbance from the fact that, *gasp*, my mother was actually daring to *work* part time as a graduate student on her doctoral thesis instead of devoting herself entirely to my care (this was back in the early 70s ... but the ironic thing is that it was apparently a woman who brought up this hypothesis) ... it took a dozen doctors and another 18 months (when I was aged 3) before they finally got confirmation from an audiologist that, yes, I was deaf just like they thought in the first place.

    Remember that hearing loss is, of course, an invisible thing: you can't just look at the ear and see, "Of course! There's something wrong here, this baby can't hear!" So all people have to go on are the outward behaviors they can observe, such as the things your mother observed about you (not always responding to your name etc). And some of the things that deaf babies might do can OUTWARDLY seem similar to the way that babies with completely unrelated disabilities might behave, even though the behavior is happening for completely different reasons. (e.g., a hearing baby might have central auditory processing disorder, which means they hear sounds as well as any other hearing baby -- or sometimes even BETTER, i.e. a condition known as "hyperacusis" where they hear more than the average hearing person -- but things may sound distorted, which affects their comprehension of speech -- even though they may hear a rattle just fine. Or a baby with movement related disorders might not turn their head when their name is called because they have trouble moving their head.)

    Also, unfortunately, doctors can be prone to the same mix of misunderstandings and myths as everyone else: for example, they might mistakenly think that deafness is an all or nothing phenomon, so they may assume that a baby who can hear a rattle can necessarily hear speech well enough to understand it without stopping to think that even if a baby isn't "deaf" in the sense of a more severe to profound hearing loss, they might still be hard of hearing (a mild hearing loss that can be enough to account for little things like failing to hear one's name called, even though they might still hear a rattle). Or they might not stop to think that a baby could hear sounds in one frequency but not in another frequency (e.g. it's somewhat commonplace for many deaf people to hear low-pitch sounds better than high-pitch sounds).

    Or doctors may discount other abilities that might be compenstating for the hearing loss -- for example, I've heard stories of doctors "testing" babies' hearing by dropping something heavy on the floor, without stopping to think that this produces not only SOUND but also VIBRATIONS that a baby will still pick up on even if they don't hear a thing. (Okay, yes, sounds basically ARE vibrations, but I mean, there are sounds that only travel through the air, then there are vibrations that can also be felt with other parts of the body like your feet if it the sound is traveling through the floor.) Or if they were shaking a rattle right in your ear, then that movement would have disrupted the air molecules meaning you would have felt a bit of a breeze near your ear and cheek even if you didn't hear the rattle. Or you might have seen the movement out of the corner of your eye. Many hearing people discount these kinds of cues, maybe because they themselves tend to tune them out and don't realize that a deaf person wouldn't do the same.

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by UnflusterableTig (U3789091) on Tuesday, 5th February 2008

    My problem is getting my family to comprehend what it means to me (and them), my being deaf.

    The other day my husband came across something which stated my level of deafness. "Oh", he said "You're 'profoundly' deaf....." smiley - doh

    My mother had a terrible time when I was young, convincing professionals that I had various physical issues which needed looking into.

    Sadly, recently I met with a mother of a young child who is going through something very similar, so it hasn't "really" improved.

    Professional apathy still affects too many people.

    Report message3

  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Boo (U232698) on Tuesday, 5th February 2008

    I think MM just called me a "wannabe" !!

    LMAO !!!!!!!!!!!

    smiley - whistle smiley - laugh

    Boo Boo Bee Doo xx

    Report message4

  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Amber (U14910322) on Monday, 4th July 2011

    Haha your "Please Stop talking mummy!" made me laugh!

    I had similar issues, my mother was young when she had me (17), and of course when she told the doctor i had issues hearing they did not believe her and told her i was just misbehaving.

    I even read my 'Baby book' of medical records a few months ago and sure enough "Amber is misbehaving a lot."

    Simply because i couldn't hear when my mum said "Stop that!" XD :D
    But the doctors didn't believe her.

    They must have finally because i had my grommets out, and some kind of ear operation (?? I really don't know what it was :S) and when i came round, mum and her brother were there by the bed talking, and i sat up and said "Shhh!" Before going to sleep again!!!

    Now i'm 17 myself and i've been struggling with my hearing for a few years, but still the doctors say "You're not deaf enough" ?! I struggle to ride a bike, i can't use the phone easily, my last years of school were miserable because i was so lonely and felt i couldn't talk to people because i was too embarrassed when i misheard.

    But now we're buying hearing aids by ourselves, i'm learning sign language and go to our local deaf club. And i love it. I'm really trying to jump head first into the Deaf world! But even my friends now are like "really?! You're HOH???!!!" And i say "Yes, i had speech therapy" and they make jokes and say "Oh selective hearing." Which really really hurt!!

    I also lipread and when they kid around and whisper "Can you hear me?" i say no and then the whole "well how do you know what i said then?" Argument starts!!!

    I don't expect hearing aids to make other people understand or go "oh she really is HOH then" But perhaps the other way around. But the difference is, with my new found confidence and BSL i feel strong enough to explain, have a good time and make new friends :D

    I love hearing about other people's experiences,makes you feel much less "The only one" smiley - smiley

    Report message5

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