My Thoughts

My Thoughts on Christianity and Other Things

Archive for the tag “deafness”

Mercy for the Hearing

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22

Hearing Loss Symbol

A few years ago I was in a coffee shop when I noticed a Deaf woman signing to a friend on a tablet. After she finished, I was able to start up a conversation with her. This was before I learned American Sign Language (ASL). We communicated by way of a few signs and a lot of typing on the laptop I had with me.

I learned that she was born deaf and her sister was born hard of hearing. Both have been mistreated by the hearing community. However, she has been accepted into the Deaf community because of her deafness and because she was able to learn ASL. And there she made friends. (There is a difference between Deaf and deaf; Deaf is for those in the Deaf culture and Deaf community, whereas deaf is anyone who can’t hear.)

Her sister, however, was determined (by hearing people) not to be deaf enough for deaf school or for learning sign language, and therefore was neither deaf nor hearing and had very few friends.

The problem is that hearing people can talk and understand each other. Deaf people can sign and understand each other. However, the hard of hearing can speak but not hear well. This isolates us from many hearing functions. But most hard of hearing people do not know any sign language. This isolates us from the Deaf.

A real hatred for the hearing had grown between the two sisters. So why did this woman seem so pleasant? Jesus! The Lord had shown her mercy and now she can show mercy to the hearing people. She no longer hates them. Last year, when I was studying ASL, I was amazed at how well our Deaf teacher put up with some of the stunts the hearing students pulled. But then, I do believe she is a Christian. And I hate to say this, but even though I am also a Christian, I don’t believe I could have kept my cool like she did.

I have been going occasionally to a Deaf church in a near by town, not a translated service but a Deaf pastor signing for his Deaf and deaf congregation. This church service is in an upstairs room inside of a large hearing church, but all are welcomed, and often there is someone who will speak for those who do not know ASL. How does this Deaf pastor explain to hearing people the needs of the Deaf?

Since I am trying to start a ministry to bring the hard of hearing back into church, I thought I’d ask. However, my ASL wasn’t too good, and when I did ask, I realized that I may have insulted the man. He thought I wanted to help him, when instead I was asking him for help.

I remembered all the times over the years that I was misunderstood. Being thought of as lazy or stupid because I didn’t hear properly. Being looked down upon. Many people have the misconception that the deaf and hard of hearing are helpless, that we don’t know what we need, or that only hearing people understand our needs. Of course, this is not true. To make it worse, sometimes hearing people don’t believe us when we tell them our needs. A few people have even looked down on the deaf and hard of hearing with pity or contempt.

Thinking about all this, I knew I had to make it right with the pastor in Everett. So I wrote a long letter asking for forgiveness.

I am a hard of hearing man, between both hearing and Deaf worlds. When I get this hard of hearing ministry going (God willing), I will be working across culture and sub-culture lines. I will need to give and receive a lot of grace, mercy and prayer. It is my hope that through the ministry, and through showing mercy, I will also be able to make church more accessible to the hard of hearing.

Advertisements

What I Learned in ASL Class

Google

Last year I was reading a blog about the deaf and how many of their relatives won’t learn ASL. I myself have seen this. But as I read farther, I realized they were talking about a different ASL than what I thought. They were talking about Australian Sign Language. I was thinking American Sign Language. Interesting that two countries in different parts of the world have the same cultural problems. Of course since I am an American I’ll be talking about what I learned while taking American Sign Language.

I was talking with a couple of people once about why people who loose their hearing will often drop out of church. I explain that once that happens, that church could loose a valuable resource. The people said something like, “Just crank up the sound.” I told them it doesn’t always work that. Much of the time captioning is needed or other technology. They had a hard time understanding this.

Google

So I explained that for me and many others that are hard of hearing or deaf use captioning when watching TV. One of them finally spoke up saying, “I never thought of someone who can’t hear, needing to rely on sight to understand what’s going on.”

There is a joke that goes around the deaf community as while as the hard of hearing, is someone being on an airline and telling a stewardess that they can’t hear them saying airline safety speech. So the ‘helpful’ stewardess brings the manual written in braille for the deaf person to read. So often people are either clueless or simply don’t think.

And this brings me to the American Sign Language course I’m taking. My teacher is deaf, and I’m sure she gets tried of some of the stupid thing her students say or do. I shouldn’t say stupid if someone doesn’t know any better. But after awhile, I believe I would go nuts with it all. How does she put up with it all?

One day I decided to ask her. But I wanted to ask in the correct American Sign Language grammar. (It’s different from English) So now I’m thinking, “OK. With people, you have patience how?” Then the answer came to me. I don’t need to ask my teacher. The Lord just told me. I instantly thought patience = love. Love = patience.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

Often our teacher says she loves us. Before, I thought it was just her personality. I still do. But now I also believe that maybe she says this, so she will remember to love others the way the Lord wants us to. (I believe she is a Christian)

So the most important thing I learned in ASL class love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 And if I want to bring non-hearing people back to church, I need to remember
1 Corinthians 13:1-7
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

And those are my thoughts.

Hearing Loss to Dementia

Leviticus 19:14 Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.

What a scary title. A year ago or more I heard that hearing loss could lead to dementia. Is this true? Or is it a scare tactic to sell hearing aids? It first I didn’t know, but now after what I have read, I do believe it’s true.

Google

Google

However to make things complicated, it’s not always true. It just looks like it. A quote from Hearing Loss Association of America says:
In older people, a hearing loss is often confused with, or complicates, such conditions as dementia.

Often times people with a sharp mind will still be called half-wit, dim-wit, not-bright, and stupid. All because they don’t hear well. And if they on the older side, maybe even be thought of as having some sort of dementia.

So, how do you know if it’s really dementia? My thinking (remember I am no expert) is get your hearing tested. Then if you need a hearing aid or a cochlear implant, get one. If things aren’t any better, see your doctor.

Recently I have read a few articles about the subject. To me this all makes sense about how untreated hearing loss could lead to dementia. Especially if you’ve been hearing all of your life, and then you loose some or all of it, it could be very discouraging. Without hearing your loved ones, your music, and other things, you could become depressed. And if you become depressed, you could eat more, (and more junk food) and increase your chances of getting diabetes. However according to Living With Hearing Loss, those with higher than normal glucose level are more likely to have a hearing loss. It seems like diabetes and hearing loss feed off each other.

Also if you’re depressed, you’re more likely to stay home and isolate yourself. This is bad for two reasons. One you’re less likely to exercise yourself, which means your muscles will soften and shrink. It’s bad for your heart too. But another reason is your brain will also weaken and shrink! If you don’t try to hear and understand people and not the TV, that part of your brain will weaken and shrink.

Years ago I read that rabbits in the wild, often have a larger brain than those that are kept in a cage. Don’t cage yourself at home.

There is a book out there called Keep Your Brain Alive. You can buy it at Amazon. I read it years ago and I reading it again.

On the subject of keeping your brain alive; I have noticed two things that I have found interesting. One, people seem to stop learning after high school or college. There are exceptions of course. But most likely after they graduate, that’s it. They stop learning.

Another thing I have noticed is many people don’t seem to think. They don’t seem to think about what they think they know and they don’t seem to think about what they don’t know. They don’t wonder about things. For an example: You look at a clock and it says it’s 6:00 in the morning. But is it true? 6:00AM may be the official time, but is it the correct time? New Orleans and Dallas are both in the same time zone. Yet people in New Orleans will see the sunrise before the people in Dallas. The sun will also be over head or at the noon position in New Orleans before it will be in Dallas. This means the clocks in New Orleans and/or in Dallas are wrong. Maybe by as much as 25 minutes or more. Then add Daylights Savings… and well I’ll let you figure it out.

So will you get dementia with you hearing loss? I don’t believe you have to. But I believe you should work towards not getting it.

– First get your hearing loss treated.
– Take care of yourself. Loose weight if you need to. (If you can) Eat healthier foods. (Even though nuts, like pecans maybe healthy, pecan pies are not. Peanuts on your ice cream doesn’t help much either) Exercise. (I know some people may think that’s a dirty word. But it’s not) About exercising, I was told that in the 1960s the United States was pushing physical education on grade school students. The reason was, exercise helped kids study better. Not just because they were tired, but because of the oxygen rich blood going to their brain.
– Socialize. It may be difficult, but I believe it will exercise your brain. Including the audio parts of it. Don’t stop being yourself. If you’re normally out going, keep it up. Don’t avoid your friends.
– Learn something. Take a class. Read a how-to book.

And now I am so tempted to add a link to a sweet sweet song. OK, maybe it’s not so sweet. Well for those who are old enough to remember this, and those who aren’t, here’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away”

By the way, this song is one of the very few that I can honestly hear the beat.

Rare Hearing

Leviticus 19:14 Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.

I have been asked to write about my hearing for Hearing Loss Association of Washington State because, well, I hear differently than most. But where do I start? Also how technical should I get?

Google

Google

My hearing loss is called Audio Processing Disorder. And for many years my hearing has been a bit of a mystery. It’s like having hearing ears but a deaf brain. Yet I have never thought of myself as disabled by it.

When I was beginning to talk, my parents noticed I was talking as if I was hard of hearing. However I was found to have perfect hearing. So I was given an IQ test and that too was very good. So I was given lots of speech therapy.

Grade school was difficult. Sometimes I did the wrong homework. Or no homework. Spelling was very difficult. How can I sound out the words if so many letters sound the same. “You mean b d e p really do have different sounds? And if all the letters have different sounds then why is ‘laugh’ spelled l-a-u-g-h and ‘calf’ is c-a-l-f? Let’s not forget ‘elephant’! Why does ‘spelled’ sound like ‘spelt’?” I do hear, but what am I hearing?

When the music teacher brought in the record player and played some music, she would ask, “Hear the ‘something’ instrument?” I never could. “Is it ‘this’ instrument, or ‘that’ instrument?” they both sounded the same for me. My wife says I often can’t hear harmony.

Here is another problem I had, but with arithmetic. On paper it was easy. I had little to no problems. But on the blackboard I had problems. (Yes kids, once a long, long time ago the white board was black and we wrote on it with white chalk.)

I would hear the teacher say “Add 50” so I would write 50. “4 plus…” What?? Now I have to erase the zero and replace it with a four? I would look at the other kids, but they would always write the correct number the first time. How?

After a while I decided that she would always pause in the middle of the number. So when I went to the blackboard next time with 5 other kids, I heard something like “40” OK I write down four waiting for the next digit. “Plus 27” What?? Again?? How would the other kids know she would only say 40? For many years I couldn’t understand how. But I believe I have an understanding now.

A few years ago I had a bad reaction to some medicine. I wrote a little about this in my post Bad Medicine. Anyway when I was recovering from the effects of the drug, my doctor sent me to a specialist to test my cognitive thinking. Even though I was still recovering, I was already testing just in the high average. The specialist also told me that I definitely had characteristics of someone with an audio processing disorder.

I was told that when my brain senses a gap in communication, it takes it as a lack of information. My brain would then try to fill in that gap with something that would make sense whether it was said or not.

This may explain why I had difficultly doing math problems on the blackboard with the teacher saying the numbers. It also explains why I had trouble learning Morse Code. If someone sent ..-. would that really be an ‘F’ or did I hear a slight pause making it .. ‘I’ -. ‘N’ for ‘IN’. What if someone sends the word ‘FOX’ which is ..-. — .–. I may hear ..-..—-.–.. In other words I would just hear noise.

Music is another problem. I don’t hear the beat. I can’t clap to the beat. Yet I wonder if I hear things others don’t. For an example, there is an old TV show called Airwolf. When the helicopter on television went into ‘high-performance-mode’ I would hear this horrible sound. I know it’s supposed to sound ‘cool’ to most people, but I hated it. To me it was a loud screeching noise and it sounded like all the bearings were locking up.

By the way, I never liked loud. I was the weird kid in high school who never played the music loud. And even though my hearing loss was only about 3-5 db, it’s now about 30-35 db loss and I still don’t like loud noise. I wear hearing protectors a lot when I work.

And this brings us to the use of assisted listening devices. I do use them. A lot. Without captioning on TV, I miss a lot. Same with movies. In church I use the FM system not for amplification (although I may a little) but to block unwanted sound. If I use a single ear-bud, my understanding is poor. However if I use a headphone or dual ear-buds, they help to block out unwanted sounds then I can adjust the volume to the ‘center of my head’. As far worship music goes, I avoid it. It’s loud. That’s when I have coffee.

Oh yes, I also speech read a lot which is different from lip reading. Lip reading is difficult. Speech reading is much easier as it involves the whole face as well as body language. I wrote a little about this in my post named, Lip Reading?.

So this is a little insight of my rare hearing. I realize many ‘hearing people’ will still have no understanding of this. I’m different, I know. I’m even different from most hard of hearing people.

Since rare often equals exotic, I like to look at it as having exotic hearing. And since hearing aids are worthless for me, and cochlear implants would have devastating effects on me, think of all the money I save!

I Am Stubborn

Hearing Loss Symbol

Hearing Loss Symbol

Imagine being in a room with a small group of people sitting on metal folding chairs. Some even holding a cup of coffee. Someone stands in front the of the room and says, “Hi. My name is Steve, and I am stubborn.” And everyone answers back, “Hi Steve.” I know this sounds funny, but this is serious. I found that I can be my own worst enemy.

Off and on for the last few years someone would ask me why I don’t have a captioned phone. Even my mom asked why I don’t get one.

For casual talk, I do OK on the phone; for the most part. But I still miss things. For detailed information, I have trouble. I can’t fill in the blanks for that. Also when I get tired or frustrated, I loose concentration. Then my speech understanding goes down. But like I said, for light talk I often do well enough that some people don’t realize I don’t hear well.

A week ago though, I had a lot of trouble. You see I upgraded my wife’s laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Everything worked very well except the online videos. I went to Microsoft website and left my phone number so they could call back. Three hours later they called. “OK I can do this” I thought.

The woman on the other end wanted me to type: “ah, ah, aaw” and other letters.
I answered back “You want me to type ‘a a r’ and what else?”
“No sir, ah ah aaw” and then more letters I couldn’t understand.
“OK a k r, what?”
“No sir. Ah as in apple. Ah as in house” (I quickly thought: That was an ‘H’?) She continues, “Aaw as in room”

I don’t remember the actual letters, but you get the idea. At that time I handed the phone over to my wife. When the IT woman made the remote access I took over.

If anyone is curious, the video never did work. So I removed Windows 10 and replaced it with Ubuntu 15.04. Now everything works.

Here is the truth. Most people wearing ear protectors can still hear better than me. And even though I do have a cell phone and I do use it, I will often hand it over to my wife. During church, if there is a video, many of them are meaningless to me. (No caption)

Only a couple of people know this, but because my hearing loss is so different than most, I usually don’t hear the beat in the music at church. I can clap to the beat only by watching others. (Most hard of hearing people can hear the beat. Even those with worst hearing than mine.)

Matthew 7:3-5
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

I don’t want to tell you why I have resisted getting a captioned phone. But now I’m beginning to think maybe I should get one. I should also stop being stubborn. In this case being stubborn is the same as being a hypocrite.

Many of you have heard of Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes. And even though Dave Ramsey’s DVDs are captioned, I want more for the hard of hearing as well as maybe the deaf community. I want it done right for them.

Because everybody’s hearing is different, we need: live real time caption for group discussion.
Also personal PA system, (their small enough to fit in a pocket) and either a looped room or a neck loop for the PA because some of us really need it.

I don’t know how this will work, but I do know I need lots of prayer. Prayer that I can get all this together, and prayer that I won’t be so stubborn when it comes to my own hearing loss.

Welcome To My World

Hearing Loss Symbol

Hearing Loss Symbol

Leviticus 19:14
“Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.

“English is my second language, I have no first.” quote from me, Steve Pettijohn

Unless you had a hearing loss or deafness from a very young age, yet born to hearing parents; this may not fully make sense.

The relationship between a family member and I has taken a strange turn in the last few months. This person has entered my world.

Brief history. One of my first memories was sitting in a chair getting my hearing tested. When they found that I could hear the beeps well, they tested my IQ. When they found my IQ was good, well… they didn’t know what to do with me. So they sent me through lots and lots of speech therapy. In the 1950s and 60s no one knew what was going on. But because I can hear beeps, I made it through 14 years in the military. It was eleven years ago or so, I was finally told I have an audio processing problem. (That explains a lot)

Now fast forward. In August 2014, this relative went from a mild hearing loss to deaf in just a few days. And of course she was greatly bothered by this, and scared. She said she thought she understood hearing loss, now realized that she never had a clue.

Now I find myself in an odd role of leading her through ‘the world of not-hearing’. She would say this and that, and I would answer back, “I know. That’s normal”. She complains that nothing sounds right. She has a difficult time understanding people. So I sent her some of the articles I have written in this blog to help her out.
Afterwards, Her: “I don’t know if I can learn to do what you do.”
Me: “You can do it.”
Her: “I don’t know, I’m a lot older than you.”
Me: “I know you’re older than me. But you can still do it.”
Her: “Everything sounds the same to me.”
Me: “Yea to me too. Like B, D, E, and even the beginning of ‘October‘ and ‘awful‘ sounds the same. I also have trouble with ‘pen‘ and ‘pin‘ and many other words. Now you see why I had so much trouble learning to spell. You can’t sound out the words if they all sound the same.”
Her: “Oh yeah.” (I can’t believe it. NOW she understands? After all these years?)

As time goes on, she is going to learn a lot about my world.

I know from being with others who have grown up with a hearing loss, my experience is very typical.

So now what? I have never thought of myself as disabled because of my hearing loss, and I still don’t. She is experiencing a great drop in audio volume. Once she gets her cochlear implant the volume will be high again, however because of the implant her audio processing ability be different than ever before. At that time her hearing will most likely be much better than mine again, but because of her new audio processing difficulties she may need me to help her adjusting to her new world. The world I have lived in for nearly 60 years.

Could I be of service? I don’t know. To me this so strange because in my mind, I am not disabled from hearing loss.

Lip Reading?

Hearing Loss Symbol

Hearing Loss Symbol

Last Saturday at a men’s group at church, I was sitting at a table with a few guys eating breakfast. They were talking about football and then started talking about the deaf player on the Seattle’s Seahawks team. Then the guy across the table from me said “Steve here” (meaning me) “is really good at reading lips.” The men at the table knew I have a hearing loss, and that I do not wear hearing aids, (although I used to) and yet I can communicate very well with others. I told them I really don’t read lips that well. I got a lot of weird looks from them about that.

So… If I don’t hear well, and I don’t wear hearing aids, and I don’t read lips very well, how do I know what people are saying? I speech read.

First let me tell you about lip reading. Most people, whether they are hearing, deaf, or hard ‘of’ hearing, can not truly lip read. (I found out one day that there is the word ‘of’ between ‘hard’ and ‘hearing’) Lip reading is very difficult. Let’s say we’re on a farm and you’re deaf or very hard of hearing and someone says “We should butcher the ____.” You say “What?” Again you hear :Go butcher the ____!” now you’re wondering, were you told to butcher the cow, or the sow??? Look in the mirror. Both words look the same.

With football or any other sport, you already know the subject matter. That helps a lot. Another thing is you only need to see a few words to guess what the other team will do. Front, forward, back, right, left, all look very different from each other. In a restaurant I have seen and understood a waitress asking someone on the far side of the room if they want sugar or something else. But this is rare. One interesting thing I must add is women will move their lips more than men. Look around, you’ll see what I mean.

My outdoor power equipment repair (lawn mower repair) business has over 800 customers. Only a very few know I don’t really hear them fully. Even on the telephone. How do I get away with it? Sometimes I don’t and then things ends badly. Once a customer was upset with me because I didn’t fix the noise. I didn’t know there was a noise.

Speech reading is taking in everything. Lips, facial expression, body language, and what’s going on at the time. For an example; you know when eating in a restaurant and your mouth is full and the waitress comes up is says, “Blah-blah”. You’ll know she’s asking if everything is OK. Speech reading is much like that. Do I make mistakes? Yes.

When I see a customer and if I don’t understand them, I watch. (Some people I have no problems understanding. Others are impossible.) People always point to the problem and they talk with their hands. Soon I understand the problem with their equipment whether it is electrical, engine, transmission, or something else. I fix the problem and most of the people have no clue I didn’t understand them verbally.

The telephone presents another problem. Too many letters sounds the same. Numbers however all sound different. If they are a repeat customer I will ask for their phone number and look up on my Excel spreadsheet the information I have on them such as name, phone number, address, and the type of equipment they had last time I saw them. Also, fortunately many of the streets in this area are numbers, like 2nd, 3rd, even up to 320th. So I get by. Barely. I have great trouble with voice-mail. I have to listen to them 5 or 6 times and often I still won’t understand.

So if you are hard of hearing or even deaf, please take my customer’s advice, and tell people you don’t hear them. I finally started doing this a couple of years ago and life is so much easier now.

If you know someone who is hard of hearing or deaf, always look at them, let them see your face. And please don’t yell at us. We don’t like that. It’s often insulting. Also please don’t pull this stunt of turning up the car radio to hear your favorite song and then start mumbling before turning the radio down again.

If you would like to learn more about hearing loss, here are three places to check out. There are lots more of them out there.
Hearing Loss Association of America
Association of Late Deafened Adults
Hearing, Speech, & Deafness Center (servicing Western Washington)

Also if you’re interested, read the post I wrote: Not Hearing, Not Deaf

Leviticus 19:14
“Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.
New Living Translation

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: