When my Hard of Hearing child says “What?”

“Never mind”. I’ve read about this a lot in the hearing loss community.

As a person with hearing loss, I may ask you to repeat yourself many times. It’s annoying. I’ve been on both sides. It feels easy to say “never mind” especially when it’s truly not important.

But “never mind”, “I’ll tell you later”, “don’t worry about it” is isolating and dismissive even though that’s not the intent.

To me, knowing what was said is:
– Being part of the conversation.
– Feeling included.
– Feeling a part of the group.

This is why I feel guilty when my own Hard of Hearing kindergarden age daughter says “what?” The first thought in my head is in fact “never mind”, “why does she have to know everything?” But I take a deep breath and remember the following:

  • Some words are new to her
  • She has not fully figured out the meaning of some words or phrases
  • Her “what” is not based only on a hearing loss – but piecing together missing sounds and processing what those words mean.
  • And in that deep breath where I repeat what I said, I slow down
  • I ask her questions to figure out what might not be working for her.
  • Is she missing a sound or does she not know the word?
  • I rephrase or simplify my language.

In the end – when she’s happy she knows what comment I made, then I’m happy too.

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