Coping · Disabilities

Autistic and Hard of Hearing

Conflicting Access Needs Within Oneself

Just over two years ago I had a complete asssesment of concussive and hearing tests done. This makes up for the fact that my original concussion specialist made my TBI worse with his treatment…or lack thereof. After the testing, we determined I had severe tinnitus bilaterally and mild hearing loss in my left ear. The hearing loss was both strucural and aquired. I was born with issues in my middle ear and I had brain damage from my concussion. Thus, I was fitted with hearing aids to help with my near-constant tinnitus and to help with the deafness in my left ear.

At first, the hearing aids were terrific. For once in my life I had silence, my tinnitus canceled out! That’s a check in the ‘pro’ column for me. The hearing aids allowed me to hear more clearly. No more mumbling and only catching a few words here and there. I was given a small receiver/speaker that connected straight to my hearing aids! This way I could hear lectures in big echoey halls & individual conversations among big family dinners. Unfortunatley, over time, my brain became overwhelmed whenever I put my hearing aids in. Even the tinnitus cancellation was overstimulating. This is due to my sensory processing disorder and my autism. Even with adjustments it was still sensory hell to wear them for more than a few hours. And don’t get me wrong, I still use them. And they still make certain aspects of my life better and more acesible. But it’s a constant balance between my hearing loss and my need to wear them versus my autism and my sensory processing disorder wanting to rip them out of my ears and yeet them into the sun. Something I use to replicate my hearing aids is the Bose QuietComfort over the ear headphones. I use noise canceling feature on them because it is similar to the tinnitus cancelation on my hearing aids, and takes the edge off. I also use my headphones to blast music almost 24/7, and I know what you’re thinking. I don’t undertand how I can handle loud music sensory wise but not be able to wear my hearing aids for more than two hours either. All I know is hearing loss and autism are quite a pair. Luckily, I have found a few ways to combat my restrictions in wearing my hearing aids, but it can be exhausting and defeating sometimes. All of this has further pushed me into learning ASL and diving into deaf culture. I truly believe sign is a language of/for the future and I am so grateful I get to learn it.

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