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Growing up with a brother who has hearing loss

The Chikarmane family of India spent spring in New York City so their son Ved, who has a significant hearing loss, could receive communication therapy at the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC). During their two-month stay, the staff at CHC got to know the entire family including Ved’s older sister, Inika.

The Chikarmanes are back in India now, and Ved is doing great. His story was the inspiration for a wonderful essay that Inika wrote for her school paper.

CHC is grateful for the many opportunities we have to touch the lives of families living around the world. Thank you to the Chikarmanes family for coming to New York and touching ours.

Inika’s Story

My brother, just like every other sibling, is smart, funny, naughty, and if I must say, cute. He is the most talented 6 year old I know. He can play the drums, he can fix a broken radio, he can tell you everything about the different continents, and he can tell apart the Black Sea from the Mediterranean Sea at just a glance, which frankly even I can’t do. He is also very curious about everything. Those are a few things that I don’t think some 6 year olds can do.

At the age of 2, the age which he was supposed to start speaking, we realized that he wasn’t talking a lot (comparatively). So we decided to go to the doctor and take a bunch of tests. After 2 more years we finally found out that he had a slight hearing loss. When I look at him now he’s just the same smart, funny, naughty, and cute brother that I’ve always had. So why can’t everyone else see him in the same light? Well, I guess the answer is that they don’t know my brother like I do.

At first it was hard to cope with a sibling with a hearing loss. But really, there’s nothing to it. At first it was hard. I had to have the patience and the ability to understand to know what he was actually going through. Oh, but the hardest part was sharing the spotlight. Having a sibling is tough but when they have a special need it’s a little harder to take. It was no longer be about me but instead about him. And you are the one who will have to do those petty little jobs, so you will find yourself working harder and harder (in academics and what not). Finally once your sibling has gotten the help they need you realize that it was just for that short span of 4 months. You didn’t even have to work so hard to know that your parents love you just the same.

We had found out about his hearing loss just a few years ago but started acting serious about it only a few months ago. We (as a family) wanted to do everything we could to make sure that he could hear everything; everything from the trees rustling, to the birds chirping, to the winds howling, to us screaming just to make sure that “everyone” in the conversation could hear us. The truth is that if you ask me people make a hearing loss a bigger problem than it actually is. When we tell other people about him they tend to speak 10 times louder than they did before not realizing that technology simply does make things better.

Hearing aids are like Iron Man’s suit, you need it if you want to have the power. My brother now because of the hearing aids can understand a full conversation, unless there are new people with new accents. But often, when a kid is said to be hearing impaired in front of a group people they seem to not understand the kid anymore. Most kids can have an attitude which you will have to deal with whether they had or didn’t have the hearing loss in the first place. They might ignore when you ask them to do something and, most often, will blame it on the hearing loss. Even though hearing impaired children will usually get the benefit of the doubt,

I think that from now on we should treat every kid the same way whether they don’t have a leg or an arm or 2% less hearing than you do. Most of all, you should not treat them as “special”; they’re normal kids doing what they can do. So, in one way or another, let’s stand up and make a change for every kid out there whether they have a problem or not

– Inika Chikarmane, age 11

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