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Hearing aids opened up a whole new world

Amber Anderson received her first hearing aids at the age of 4.
Amber Anderson, left, and her mother, Karen, stand in their New Rockford home. Amber, who is now 19, received her first hearing aid when she was 4. She is studying dental hygiene at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton.
  As Karen Anderson recalls, her firstborn child, Amber, didn’t seem to hear the door close when her father came home from work. “She was just a baby, but David and I also noticed she didn’t appear to hear us when we whispered,” Karen said.

Amber had regular ear infections and tonsillitis in early childhood, and her parents chalked up her hearing difficulty to illness. A tonsillectomy when Amber was 3 was expected to help, but it didn’t. At a preschool screening, an audiologist noticed Amber didn’t respond properly and referred the family to a specialist for more thorough testing.

“We were in a bit of denial until the specialist diagnosed Amber with mild to moderate hearing impairment in both ears,” Karen said. “Initially, we were devastated. Then, we accepted this information and acted promptly to get the help Amber needed. She had her first hearing aid by age 4.”

Amber shared her hearing aid with her preschool class during show-and-tell.

“We wanted to address it up front so the kids would accept it as normal,” Karen said. “It has pretty much been that way ever since. It’s just part of who Amber is, like someone who has glasses or contact lenses.”

Amber, 19, said new people she meets are usually surprised when they learn she has hearing aids. “I don’t know what I’d do without them,” said Amber, who is studying dental hygiene at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton. “I can hear without them, but sound is muffled. I doubt I’d do as well in school without hearing aids.”

Amber’s parents are proud of how well she adapted to hearing aids. “Amber never used her hearing loss as an excuse,” Karen said. “Even if it was difficult for her at times and she had to study harder than others, she didn’t let it hinder her. When she first got her hearing aids, her preschool teacher commented that she saw a 100 percent change in her responsiveness. We were so relieved that help was available for our daughter, and we continue to be grateful for the evolving technology and wonderful healthcare professionals.”

Amber sees Dr. Douglas Schauer, an audiologist at Sanford Health Hearing Center in Jamestown, every six months.

  Dr. Douglas Schauer
Dr. Douglas Schauer
Audiology
“Most likely, Amber was born with this hearing impairment, and her condition should not worsen or improve,” Dr. Schauer said. “Children who have hearing impairment are best served when the problem is identified early and they can be helped before they start school. I’ve seen Amber since she started school, and her family has been very supportive of her. Amber is a model patient—very responsible with her hearing aids.”

Karen remembers when Amber received her first hearing aid. “We got in the car, and she said, ‘Turn down the radio.’ She hadn’t noticed the loud volume before. Then, she asked me what a certain noise was. It was birds chirping. It was like a whole new world opened up for her. We hadn’t realized she wasn’t hearing those things. Amber has so much potential, and we don’t want anything to hold her back.”

Click here for more information on Sanford Health audiology services.

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