Champion - Matthew Ottichian

Student • Basketball Player

From: Wallingford, Connecticut

Experiencing Hearing Loss

Matthew was diagnosed with hearing loss at 10 months old; however, his doctors estimate that he was born with hearing loss.

"I was born prior to newborn hearing screening laws," says Matthew. "My parents noticed a problem around the age of six months. We were at a birthday party and balloons were popped—everyone jumped but me. I just sat on the floor playing with toys. My mother took me to the pediatrician and the testing began."

Now Matthew has a cochlear implant and it has greatly affected his experiences growing up.

"Mostly, having this equipment has been wonderful. It lets me effectively communicate with everyone, be a part of conversations, talk on the phone, and basically live my life the way I want."

Getting Involved

Throughout the years, Matthew has been very active in his school and community. He is an athlete who has participated in flag football, tennis, and basketball. He has participated in extracurriculars such as math club, Spanish club, and Italian club. He's also involved in community service endeavors.

"I am a peer mentor in our town," says Matthew. "Our group does community service projects, walks in various charity event, and sends care packages to soldiers. Each year (in high school), I have visited the middle school to talk about bullying. I have also volunteered at our local Parks and Recreation teaching basketball to young players for the past five summers."

Matthew accumulated 310 hours of community service in his high school years. Now he is a freshman in college studying health science and playing on the school basketball team.

Why Matthew is a HearStrong Champion

Matthew is a HearStrong Champion because he strives to be an inspiration to others, especially to children who are going through what he went through as a child.

"I hope my story would help parents with a young child see that having a hearing loss does not have to limit the child," says Matthew. "Yes, they will at times feel like they are different, but I think everyone at some time in their life has those feelings or experiences. Having a hearing loss might make some things a little harder at times, but it should not stop anyone from achieving their dreams."

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