Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Silent Symphony

As told to Leah Gebber

I was born into an almost silent world. I have aural atresia, a condition that robbed my left ear of hearing. Constant ear infections, which did not respond to treatment or surgery, left my hearing greatly reduced in my right ear. From when I was just a tiny baby, the quest began to help me live in the noiseless cacophony that surrounded me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I was taught to lip-read as a very young child, and I was also fitted with a bone-conductor hearing aid, an external device with a box that received sound and transferred it to the ear that still had some hearing. I couldn’t use a standard hearing aid, as the very ear canal was malformed. The hearing aid was an imperfect system, so in the classroom we also used an FM system. My teacher wore a transmitter around her neck, and I wore a loop that caught the sound. While I was able to make sense of the teacher’s words, I was cut off from any class discussion and the innumerable social interactions that took place around me. I was no outcast, though. I became an expert at reading nonverbal cues, of judging dynamics and conversations through people’s posture and facial expressions. I also learned to laugh along, even when I was oblivious to the joke. Still, I was known to be quiet and soft-spoken, and perhaps that masked the real me. When I matured and was able to process my school years, I was frustrated that the school hadn’t done more to make my life easier, to enable me to integrate better and more easily. For one thing, although I could hear my teachers, class discussions were hopeless. The teacher could have simply repeated each student’s contribution, so that I could have heard it. Despite my parents’ repeated requests, that didn’t happen. Alternatively, she could have appointed a girl to sit next to me who would help me figure out what was going on. I was often left with a vague feeling of disorientation. Things were going on around me, but I wasn’t sure quite what. By nature, I’m a leader; I’m outgoing and like to express my opinions. But all that was stifled during my school years, simply because I was trapped in silence.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time