William was one of the first in the world to try out the revolutionary bone conduction hearing device stuck on behind the ear—ADHEAR. We chat with William’s mom, Lorraine, to find out about how ADHEAR has changed her son’s life.
1: How did you first find out William had hearing loss?
William failed his very first hearing test at one week old. The specialists said it could be that he was just temporarily snuffly. I thought that as they had given a reason for this, there was no real issue to follow up on the diagnosis. However, when William was around 12-18 months, I knew something still wasn’t right. He had continual ear infections which antibiotics did not help with fixing. He began to have an awful smell coming from his left ear—I could smell his ear when he was sitting on the other side of the sofa! When William had a routine operation for glue ear at around 2 years old, they identified Cholesteatoma in his left ear, which is a non-cancerous growth. A grommet was fitted in his right ear.
William had many surgeries to remove the Cholesteatoma, and to monitor and control this chronic illness. He also had an operation to remove his ear canal, so he can only hear through vibrations, like through bone conduction systems.
2: How did you feel when you found out about William’s diagnosis?
We were gutted. William himself was too young to understand the diagnosis, however, I remember him saying, “Why me, and not my brother?” William didn’t really understand the whole situation, and feared even visiting the consultant. We had very little advice from any support agency while William tried out using hearing aids. As parents, we were left to work through and accept his illness on our own. I couldn’t read about or research William’s diagnosis as it felt overwhelming at the time—we were just going through the motions. We just took everything day by day.
Prior to getting the ADHEAR, William used to struggle in many situations: at school; playing sport; talking in noisy environments; and watching television. It was also hard for him to talk with his friends online while he played console games like PlayStation 4. Our son was tired and unhappy. He would come home from school with headaches, and then go straight to his room to have time in a quiet place, before later coming down to interact with the family. It was the only way he could cope. This time was difficult for us as parents. There was so much confusion in conversations with William. There was lots of repeating things and misunderstanding of each other’s perspectives.
3: Did you try out any other hearing loss solutions?
We were offered various solutions for William via our consultant. We researched each option, including what impact it would have on William and what the side effects would be. We wanted to choose a solution that would allow our son to still play his rugby and have the freedom to be a child. We chose not to have a bone anchored device. We found out about a number of risks with this type of device and weren’t keen that part of it would still protrude out through his skin. It was important that our son’s freedom to undertake sports that he enjoyed, could remain. Before ADHEAR, William first tried using another bone conduction device that uses a headband. However, William says that it never felt secure, and he always thought they would fall off. Wearing the headband every day was also socially challenging, and it made him very unhappy. This type of device meant that for the first time William’s hearing loss was visible. He was really isolated at school as he felt different. His peers did not understand his hearing loss and he struggled to make friends.
4: Why did you end up choosing ADHEAR for your son?
William wanted to continue to do things like any other child, so our son’s voice very much directed our decision. Getting ADHEAR has been the best solution for us to date. William is now really happy. He has the freedom of choice, and ADHEAR enables him to hear in situations he would normally find difficult. William wears this device always and relies on it as part of his life like no other device we have used.
William often says that he forgets he is wearing ADHEAR and even does star jumps because it is so secure. He also likes the ADHEAR as it has more options and settings than the previous device.
5: What is life like now for William with ADHEAR?
Since using ADHEAR, William is so much happier and louder! He has made some wonderful friends at school. They understand that he can’t hear and so they adapt to help him. William wears ADHEAR all day in school, and when he comes home. It is so easy to use, if he needs to take it off at all, he simply clicks it off and on again. Our son can now enjoy watching television because the sound is louder and clearer. He can also hear friends and people in a restaurant, and no longer feels like the conversation is happening a mile away. Previously, when William was a toddler, he didn’t speak to male members of the family as he couldn’t hear them. Now that he can hear their voices with the ADHEAR, this has totally changed! He can have more meaningful conversations with all his family and friends and is more confident as he can hear well enough to ask questions. William now involves himself in group activities and situations which he may have shied away from in the past. He has more energy every day after school, and has fewer headaches from over-concentrating to hear in class. He also doesn’t speak excessively loudly like he used to.
I have noticed as time goes on, William chooses to wear the ADHEAR more and more without being prompted by us—he realizes now how much he needs it. William changes his own batteries and maintains the device. We’re so happy to that our son is more confident, more integrated, and is prepared for any future challenges.
Thanks, William and Lorraine!
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