15-year old moderately deaf Hayley, who has autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), is excited about her new job. But Tiger Mother’s surprised she hasn’t told everyone she’s deaf.
Hayley is excited. I know this because she hasn’t stopped talking, at speeds of up to 110mph, for the last five minutes since she barrelled through the front door. It’s like being in a room with a hyperactive chimp who’s just downed a dozen large espressos.
That’ll be the new job then. She’s just started helping out at a nursery for a few hours every Wednesday after school.
Hayley adores kids, and they seem to love her, so she’s in her element there.
One thing surprised me, though. She said that when some of her young charges were curious as to what her hearing aids were, she told them they were earrings.
When I asked her why, she just shrugged. “Just didn’t want to get into explaining it all to them,” was all she’d say.
“Hayley’s never seemed self-conscious about her hearing aids”
It’s unusual for Hayley, because she has never seemed self-conscious about her hearing aids or her deafness. She’s always been comfortable talking about it if anyone asks, and has no problem asking teachers to repeat themselves if she can’t hear.
Naturally, we’ve always encouraged her to be accepting of her aids, and the audiologists are brilliant. Whenever she needs new ones, it’s like they’ve all the time in the world as they let her choose from a whole range of moulds and aids, different colours, glittery ones, pearlised finishes, all sorts.
They hold open a display case of the whole range while madam sits there ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’, trying to make up her mind like she’s choosing a ring at the jewellers. I’ve even had to model them on my ear before to help her decide, at the very accommodating audiologist’s suggestion.
Just recently, Hayley chose two swirled colours on her new mould, only possible, the audiologist told us, because they’re on good terms with their suppliers.
So Hayley’s always seemed pretty comfortable with it all.
“At 15 she’s become much more self-conscious”
I guess it’s her age that’s kicking in. At 15 she’s become much more self-conscious, especially about her appearance. It’s natural for a teenager.
So just like she’s overly conscious of her hair, makeup or clothes, I suppose there’s no reason to think her hearing aids would escape. After all, they’re part of her.
I suspect that, because the kids look up to her as a ‘teacher’– some call her ‘Miss’ which she thinks is very cool – she’s enjoying the sense of feeling like a proper grown up. She just doesn’t want to risk being seen as anything other
than an everyday, common or garden grown up in the children’s minds.
I’m certain that once she’s more secure in her role there and realises it won’t make any difference to her coveted status as a grown up, she’ll be happy to chat to them about it – at endless Hayley-style length!