Hearing Loss in Children – Audrey and Ava’s Starkey Story

Hearing loss can be difficult to identify, and when the warning signs begin to show up in children, it can be even more challenging. For 6-year-old twins Audrey and Ava, hearing loss was significantly impacting their lives, and their mother took notice.

“About a year and a half ago, my husband John and I noticed the twins were turning the TV up louder and louder,” said the twins mother Amanda. “They were not understanding two-step directions and were saying ‘huh’ all the time. We never really thought, oh, it could be a hearing loss until one day Audrey said, ‘Mom, I can't hear you.’"

The problem became more obvious when Audrey and Ava started first grade. At the beginning of the school year, their first grade teacher, Laura Line began to notice that the girls were having trouble hearing her in the classroom. “They slipped in their reading level and were failing spelling,” Amanda said. “They could not hear the words clear enough to pass the tests. Their teacher expressed concern.” Amanda took the girls to see hearing instrument specialist Jane Bowman to have their hearing tested.  

“At our house we like to call Jane, ‘Grandma Jane!’” Amanda said. “Our kids love her. She is very much trusted as a friend and a professional. She helped us help the twins. 

Jane Bowman has more than 30 years of experience providing better hearing to those with hearing loss. As the owner of J. Bowman Hearing Service with practice locations in Columbus, Indiana and Martinsville, Indiana, she provides comprehensive evaluations and hearing tests, video otoscopy, and computerized hearing aid analysis. Her practice offers a full line of hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and hearing accessories.

After hearing evaluations revealed that Audrey and Ava had hearing loss, Jane suggested that the twins be fit with hearing aids. The twins were fit with Starkey Wi Series i110 hearing aids.

Jane said since the girls were fitted with hearing aids, she’s noticed how much they have come out of their shells. “They are smiling more and communicating when I ask them questions,” she said.  “They no longer look uninterested when spoken to, or say ‘huh.'  They smile and giggle and are communicating wonderfully.  They are typical little six-year-old girls!  I could not be happier about how well they are doing!”

Their mother has also noticed positive differences in how the girls feel about themselves, “The most significant change is their self-confidence, “Amanda said. “They walk around more proudly. They can understand and participate in family devotions and family talks. They can hold conversations and are so willing to share about their day! At church they are singing during worship and asking questions at the end of lessons. It has been wonderful to see the transformation.”

The girls are also active in competitive cheerleading and gymnastics, and Amanda said that since wearing hearing aids, the girls have gained numerous new skills. “They can now hear the instructions the coaches are giving them,” she said.  “They wear a clip that attaches to the hearing aids and then on the back of their practice gear and uniforms when they are at practices and competitions. That way we can ensure the hearing aids stay in place and they can hear all the music in order to complete their routines.” 

Their first grade teacher, Laura Line, has also noticed positive changes in the classroom after the girls were fit with hearing aids. “I was totally surprised by the changes I saw,” she said. “First, they did not ask to have things repeated.  Before, when I explained something to the class, they would say ‘huh’ or have a confused look on their faces.  Now, they nod their heads, as if to say, ‘I get it!’  Their willingness to participate in the class changed too.  They are more willing to answer a question than before.  Also, before they got the hearing aids, they never looked at the child who was talking.  Now, when someone else is sharing, they look at the person speaking.” Additionally, Laura said the girls have begun to open up to her more “They talk to me more and have more in depth conversations with me.  I feel like they are enjoying the class so much more!”Audrey and Ava aren’t afraid to share their hearing aid experience, said Laura. “Audrey and Ava are just like every other student in my classroom except they wear hearing aids,” she said.  “When they came back to school after being fit with hearing aids, they showed them to the class and shared the book they were given at the fitting. The kids were so excited to hear about their trip.”

You can learn more about hearing professional Jane Bowman’s practice by visiting her website at jbowmanhearing.com.

For back-to-school tips for students with hearing loss, click here

By Beth McCormick, Au.D.