I like helping people that have hearing loss. I also like helping kids and adults understand more about my hearing aid so they do not stare.
Discovering Her Hearing Loss
Ally was born with unilateral hearing loss due to a congenital birth defect called Microtia and Atresia, where she was born without her right ear and doesn’t have an ear canal. She did not pass her newborn hearing screening and unfortunately her parents didn’t receive a clear explanation of what that meant or the degree of her hearing loss. At that time, Ally’s pediatrician suggested that she have an ABR hearing trest, which revealed that she had a severe conductive hearing loss in her right ear.
When Ally’s mother, Melissa, was asked about the experience she recalled that “we asked her doctors if she needed a hearing device to help her hear better, and their response was that she wasn’t a candidate for a Cochlear Implant and that she had one good ear and that was good enough. At the time, my husband and I believed in this information from our doctors. No one told us about a bone conduction hearing device, the hearing device that Ally needed to help her hear better.”
At about 8 months of age, Ally stopped babbling and cooing and her parents inquired about her hearing loss again, but it was explained that she was probably focusing on other things such as holding and standing up. At 10 months of age, Ally’s mother started to research unilateral hearing loss and the associated potential delays in speech and language development. At this point, a bone conduction hearing device and early intervention services were introduced to the family and Ally, something that had never been brought up before.
“Immediately, I began reaching out to a couple of audiologists that a friend suggested I call and asked all the questions I could think of. At 11 months of age, Ally was fitted with a demo bone conduction hearing device and began receiving early intervention services, including speech therapy.”
Ally’s bone conduction hearing system not only helps her hear every day no matter where she is, but most definitely when she is learning in school. In addition to her hearing device, she also uses an FM system that connects to her hearing device through a streamer that she wears around her neck. Ally is able to hear every word from her teacher, consistently, never missing a beat. The use of both her hearing device and the FM system together have helped improve her speech and language development.
When asked if there was a specific moment that truly symbolized the impact that hearing better has had on Ally’s life, her mother specifically recalled a visit to their audiologist.
“The first time our seeing is believing moment was when our audiologist switched Ally’s demo hearing device on and she smiled and her face lit up when she whispered Ally’s name behind her ear. It was an immediate difference that all of us saw in the audiology office that day!” In addition to being able to hear better, Ally’s speech and language has developed and improved thanks to the use of her hearing device.
“When I hear Ally singing and dancing to songs it makes me realize how thankful we are and when she says, ‘I heard that!’ I know these are the moments we are thankful for her hearing devices.”
Why Ally is a HearStrong Champion
Ally is a HearStrong Champion because at the young age of 9, she has shown great determination and the ability to always strive to teach others about hearing loss. Thanks to Ally needing a hearing device and understanding the need to hear better, Ally and her mother’s non-profit Ear Community, have been able to help donate over 100 bone conduction hearing devices to other children and adults just like her who need help hearing, but could not afford a hearing device or were denied coverage by their insurance provider.
Recently, she helped advocate for hearing device coverage on Caption Hill in Washington DC and met with House and Senate staff members to ask for their help in mandating insurance coverage for the very hearing device she wears, since many insurance providers don’t currently cover the cost of a bone conduction hearing device.