Your Stories

Meet Beckett & Aimee

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Aimee Lewis, mother to 2-year-old son Beckett, was starting to think the ‘terrible twos’ really were consuming her son. He wasn’t responding, he wasn’t listening; Aimee felt she couldn’t communicate with him. “We started to wonder if this was normal “terrible twos” but it felt like we were missing something, so we booked a hearing test”.

Just two weeks ago, Beckett, was diagnosed with severe hearing loss. Initial screening should be done at birth, and at the latest, before one month. Born in Saskatchewan, where there is no provincially mandated or delivered early hearing detection and intervention program, Beckett’s hearing was not tested at birth. Now mostly nonverbal, Beckett has now was gone two years unable to hear his mother sing him to sleep, or his father chuckle at his adventures.

“If it was caught at birth, he would have the implants already and we could be working on his communication skills. To find out at a young age would have been a lot easier”.

In Canada, more than 2,000 children are born with hearing loss per year. That is nearly six in every thousand Canadian babies who have some degree of hearing loss. This makes hearing loss one of our country’s most common birth defects.

Unlike the United States, Canada does not have a national infant hearing mandate.

TinyEARS.ca is a movement started by The Hearing Foundation of Canada to mark Speech and Hearing Awareness Month. The position is simple. The petition is seeking 5,000 signatures calling on the Minister of Health to demonstrate leadership and work with the provinces to create a national mandate for infant screening and intervention. This way, every child in Canada has a chance at the best possible start. While some provinces do have screening in place, they have no process or policy for the critical intervention needed to assist communication at this crucial life stage.

Once tested, Aimee felt an immediate sense of relief for Beckett.

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“If we had put it off longer, then who knows what would have happened. I can keep him safer now that I know he won’t be able to respond to my voice if he is in danger.”

Although scheduled to get hearing aids next week, Aimee was told that they are unlikely to have an effect on Beckett as he is most likely a candidate for cochlear implants.

The TinyEARS.ca petition is asking the government to ensure that all babies get an equal start in life. Please sign the petition today to speak up for Canadian babies.

Share the petition to let the government know we care about our children’s equal access to resources and opportunities.

Talk about TinyEARS with your friends and family to help all babies hear their mother’s lullaby and their father’s chuckle.

Because [Beckett] was born healthy in Saskatchewan, he got missed. That’s just wrong. All parents in Canada need to advocate for their child’s rights. All babies in Canada have a right to equal access and the best possible start.

For more information visit TinyEARS.ca.

Join the community and meet other parents on Facebook.

Meet Peter

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I was in denial about my hearing loss for years.

I couldn’t hear my wife properly. Even talking about groceries became difficult and frustrating.

Have you have had a similar experience with someone you love? It was almost unnoticeable for me at first. I gradually had a harder and harder time participating in discussions at my Rotary Club meetings. Eventually I stepped back from the conversations. My participation became limited to just nodding. And, when my grandchildren telephoned from across the country, I missed a lot of what they were saying. I think that is what I regret the most.

Read Chase’s experience with his grandfather below.

There was a lot of frustration in my life. I enjoy engaging in “witty” repartee and I could no longer do that.People would talk to me and I would pretend I could hear them.

Now I’m a little embarrassed to admit that even after a specialist diagnosis of profound hearing loss in my right ear and moderate loss in my left ear, it was over a year before I took the advice to get a hearing aid. Pride got in my way.

I’ve since learned that a lot of people live with treatable hearing loss. And that not getting treatment may lead to depression, social isolation, even dementia. I see a lot of seniors who are lonely.

If I hadn’t gotten help, I could have been one of those lonely people.

If I didn’t have such a supportive wife, I might have withdrawn into myself. When I finally got the help I needed my whole world opened up again.
That is why, like you, I support The Hearing Foundation of Canada (THFC). With caring donors like us they can reach more people sooner, so they can stop living in the shadows and start participating in life again.

Thanks to your support of THFC, more people are learning that hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of. Your donation will help support efforts to eliminate the devastating effects of hearing loss on the lives of so many Canadians like us.

Together, we can remove the barriers to early diagnosis and treatment for hearing loss. We can work toward the day where hearing aids are just as accepted as reading glasses, where hearing tests are just as common as vision tests.

With your help, we can create a world where nobody feels the need to live in denial.

Once I accepted my hearing loss and began wearing my hearing aid, life improved dramatically. There’s no shame in wearing a hearing aid. It isn’t a negative. It’s a positive to be able to hear your grandchildren properly, to participate fully in your life.

I want everyone in Canada who is living in isolation due to untreated hearing loss to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. Life isn’t over. That’s the reason I’m asking you to be generous today.

Please renew your support and help us improve the lives of Canadians just like us.

Sincerely,

Peter Norman's Signature

Peter Norman
Rotarian, Sailor
Liverpool F.C #1 Fan
And Grandfather to Skye, Chase, Peter and Isabella

P.S. Together our gifts will provide hope, support and earlier treatment to people who are living with hidden hearing loss. Please join me and send your generous gift today. Thank you!

Donate to THFC today!

Meet Chase, Peter's Grandson

chase-crabLast week my mom, who is the Executive Director, sent you the story about my Grandpa, Peter? I hope you had a chance to read it. My mom also asked me to
share my perspective.

When I was little, I didn’t know my grandpa couldn’t always hear me. Except that
my mom just kept telling me to speak up when we talked on the phone. I felt like
I was shouting. It took so much effort to talk to Grandpa I just stopped trying. I’d
avoid telephone conversations because I guess I just didn’t see the point. He just
seemed uninterested in what I had to say.

A few summers ago I didn’t have a job and my mom didn’t want me sitting around
on the Xbox so she shipped me out to Victoria BC to spend a few weeks with my grandparents. I thought it would suck. But it didn’t! I had a blast that summer.
We ate a lot of crab, went sailing, visited museums and talked a lot.

My grandpa has so many cool stories to share – and he is really smart!

I guess the difference was that he could hear me. I didn’t have to work so hard. Grandpa got treatment for his hearing loss and it made a huge difference to all of us.

I am so proud of him, for realizing there’s no shame in using a hearing aid, for having the guts to share his story and for supporting THFC. I’m also proud of my mom for working so hard to help other people like him.

If you get a moment, please read his story above, and consider following his lead: get your hearing checked, and consider donating to THFC so that other people are encouraged to get treatment.

Don’t miss a single day with your grandkids!

Your donation today will mean so much. And, if you are feeling really generous, please help us spread the word.

Thanks!

Chase MacKenzie

Grandson of Peter Norman
Son of Kimberley MacKenzie

And in the middle of exams at Guelph University, studying Health Sciences so writing this letter was a HUGE favour to my mom. (but I was happy to do it!)

Note from the ED:

Yes, I asked my family to share their personal stories about hearing loss. So many people in Canada are touched by this preventable and treatable condition. I asked my family to share their story, now I hope you will do the same. Please drop me a note at kmackenzie@hearingfoundation.ca and share your story.

Together we can encourage others to work toward better hearing health.

Kimberley

Donate to THFC today!

Meet John, THFC Board Chair and Music Lover

John sitting at his piano.

So many emotions went through me as I entered the Royal Conservatory of Music for my first class. I may have been fifty-seven years old but I felt twelve!

Have you ever pursued a long-awaited dream? Something that, for one reason or another, kept being pushed back until one day you just went for it?

I have. I was fifty-seven, and very close to retirement from my demanding job as a bank executive. My children were adults and had finished university. Finally, the time had come when I could pursue a dream that I had dreamt of my entire life. It was time to learn to play the piano.

Soon after I started playing, I discovered I could only hear from one ear. It was crushing. I didn’t realize that I had only been hearing half of the world around me. My first thought was that I might need to stop playing piano.

Imagine how devastating it is to learn that you may no longer be able to pursue your dream. This was my first hint at mortality. I felt old for the first time.

I became determined that my hearing loss would not impact my mental health. I learned everything I could. I sought treatment immediately. Hearing health became my priority. The Hearing Foundation of Canada became my passion. I hope you share my passion, and will consider supporting THFC.

My thought was of my mother and my grandmother. You see, when they started to lose their hearing, they also suffered dementia. Communication became too difficult and they lost interest in the world around them. As a result, their mental health swiftly declined and their world became very small. I chose to act differently.

Once I started playing I couldn’t stop. Music had changed for me forever. I loved it deeply and passionately, and practiced for hours a day. I now play at a grade nine level and to be honest, I get lost in making music.

Do you know that hearing loss is treatable and preventable? My life was not going to shrink the way my mother’s and grandmother’s had. I had a lot of living to do and a lot of music to play.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion children and youth are at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss — which is completely preventable!

And only 12% of seniors who suffer hearing loss seek treatment for it. This is unacceptable.

Hearing health is taken for granted and is grossly misunderstood. Together we must change that. Your donation can help:

  • Create a change in behaviour among young people so they protect their hearing.
  • Do more catalytic research to find better, more effective, and more affordable treatments.
  • Work with the government to reduce the stigma around hearing loss.

The Hearing Foundation of Canada is the only national charity closing the gap in these areas.

Every Canadian citizen should be able to hear music, songbirds, or their child saying “I love you” for the very first time.

Our focus this year is to look at new partnerships with organizations who share our vision of better hearing health in Canada. Working with dementia organizations as well as local symphonies will help to eliminate the devastating — and preventable — effects of hearing loss.

Please support this critical work. Your gift will raise the bar for hearing health in Canada.

The day my bone-anchored hearing aid was installed I remember life instantly got richer. I was able to complete my grade nine exam, hear waterfalls I didn’t know were there and greatly reduce communication issues with my family. It was a very emotional time. I still get overwhelmed when I think about it.

You can help other Canadians have the same experience. Your continued investment has never been more important. Thank you for considering this request.

Yours for hearing health,
John Pepperell's signature in black ink
John Pepperell
Chair of the Board, The Hearing Foundation of Canada

P.S. Join me in my passion to advance treatment and awareness of hearing health. Your donation today will help make hearing health in Canada a priority.

Donate to THFC today!

Meet Krista & Brendan

Krista and her children

When my son Brendan was born, I thought he was perfect. Even after the nurses told me that he had partial hearing loss. To me, he was perfect.

It wasn’t long before my euphoria quickly changed to frustration. Not with Brendan of course, but with the stigma that we instantly confronted.

In March 2004, newborn screening for hearing health was brand new. In fact, Brendan was the first baby in that hospital to have a positive result from the test. Right away the nurses started looking for a cause and I was put on the defensive. Did I smoke during pregnancy and what else might have done to cause his hearing loss? I didn’t do anything. Brendan’s hearing loss is hereditary.

My son is a healthy, active, determined boy who is extremely smart. He also happens to wear hearing aids. As a family, we continue to confront the stigma associated with hearing loss on a daily basis.

The world can be a cruel place if you are a young child wearing hearing aids. We have a lot of work to do to change that. That is why I want to thank you for your interest in The Hearing Foundation of Canada (THFC) and ask you to join me and donate today. By donating to THFC, we are all taking an active role in moving toward a day when hearing aids will be as matter a fact as reading glasses. For our family, that can’t happen soon enough.

Brendan’s hearing loss was detected before we left the hospital and he started being treated differently right then and there. Like he was broken. My son is not broken. In fact, Brendan is pretty amazing. But as the years pass, the lack of understanding has continued.

Brendan started wearing hearing aids at a very young age. At that time total strangers would come up to me and ask me questions like: “Does your son have a hearing problem?” “Is it just his hearing or does he have other mental issues?” “Are you comfortable with people seeing his hearing aids?” These comments made me feel angry. Although, perhaps never as angry as I was one day a few years ago.

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It was a winter day in Montreal and Brendan and some friends were playing soccer outside. Brendan was told by a supply yard duty teacher that he couldn’t play soccer because he was disabled. That night when he came home he, asked me what “disabled” meant. I told him it meant that he was unable to perform certain tasks due to illness or injury. He was genuinely curious about why the teacher thought his legs didn’t work.

 

I then had to tell him it wasn’t because of his legs;
it was because of his hearing.

Brendan is an active, energetic boy, who also wears hearing aids. He can play soccer and hockey and even ride his bike 100km to raise money for THFC!

Brendan is determined to do whatever he can to help other kids like him feel more “normal”. Once while shopping he noticed another boy wearing hearing aids. Brendan walked right up to this boy showed him that they had something in common. The boys had a good chat. When Brendan came back, I asked him why he did that. His response: “Because, I wish someone had done that with me.”

Please join my son and show the world that hearing loss is manageable, preventable and worthy of research and discussion.

As I celebrate my amazing children this Mother’s Day I will reflect on all of the incredible abilities that my son has. Brendan’s attitude is contagious. Because of him, I am motivated to do more for hearing health. THFC is motivated to do more and now we are asking you to join us. Can you do more?

When you support THFC, you are part of something big. You are part of a national movement to eliminate the stigma associated with hearing loss. You help to ensure that more kids like Brendon are noticed for their abilities, not their “disabilities”.

Yours for better hearing health,

Krista's signature in black ink

Krista Scaldwell
Brendan’s Mom

P.S. Please consider donating today so that we can all do more to eliminate the stigma associated with hearing loss.

Donate to THFC today!


Meet Jim & Daniel

Jim & Daniel with the Hearing Foundation of Canada Logo

When you notice a group of excited children, all eager to start winter break, do you smile at the joyful anticipation in their young voices?

Can you hear them?

My heart broke recently as my friend Jim was telling me how hard he works at hearing his son Daniel. You see, twenty five years ago, when Jim was as a teenager, he worked in a canning factory.

Like a lot of teenagers, Jim didn’t bother with hearing protection, because he didn’t realize the risk and the ear plugs on that plastic string didn’t look “cool”. Of course Jim couldn’t have known then that many years later, his non-verbal autistic son Daniel would struggle to communicate with him. Daniel speaks so rarely that for Jim, each of those moments are precious.
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“I have so much embarrassment and guilt that I
can’t hear him. If I’d have known then how important my hearing would be …If could turn back time, I’d have worn the ear plugs…but I can’t. I just didn’t know. Daniel’s voice is so soft and it takes such
an extraordinary effort on his part to communicate.
I don’t want to miss a single syllable ever.
But I do all the time.”
               – Jim Martin

There is still so much to be done. Right now, over 60% of teens surveyed said that they had experienced temporary hearing loss while attending concerts and 16% of them have never had any education about hearing health. Your donation can help change that. Many forms of hearing loss are avoidable and education initiatives like our Sound Sense program need to be scaled up. There are still too many people like Jim. And for so many, their hearing loss was preventable.

When Jim was in school, there wasn’t a program like Sound Sense, which warns kids about exactly the hearing loss he wound up with. A program that is made possible by your gifts, and which needs your support this holiday season to continue to share its incredibly important message about hearing health.

Please consider a donation to hearing health this holiday season. Your gift will let us offer Sound Sense to more children across Canada and to continue to raise awareness for hearing health.

Donate to THFC today!


Donate to THFC today!