For 17-year-old Saskia, taking on a mentoring role at Hear and Say’s COMET Group Social Skills program has given her time to reflect on her own journey growing up with hearing loss and all she has achieved.
“Being able to meet so many children who also had hearing loss at COMET and listen to them share experiences was amazing – I could relate so much to them when I was their age, which told me how important it is for all of us to help each other,” said Saskia.
When asked to consider what messages she might have for her younger self and what is important to keep reminding herself of today, Saskia observed the following:
Six years old
“As you begin your school journey, know that there will be people who ask you about the ‘things’ on your ears – tell them the truth that they’re my cochlear implants and they help me hear. Just remember to continue loving life and be friends with the people who care and respect you for who you are.”
10 years old
“I know you’re nervous and worried about starting at a new school with a whole new crowd of people. If anyone asks what’s on your ears, just simply tell them they help you hear. Some people won’t care about it, whilst others will be absolutely amazed. Don’t let that bother you or change you one bit.”
17 years old (present day)
“It’s totally understandable to lose motivation, or become too embarrassed to give your teacher your microphone [to stream to your cochlear implants]. However, please keep using it as it is so beneficial and allows you to hear so much better in the classroom, especially if you are around noisy students. You also know that you want to be a paediatric occupational therapist when you graduate, and help kids with disability to live a happier life. Coaching hockey and supporting a younger student who has a hearing loss and learning difficulties as she learns to play hockey has been so rewarding already, and you have so many experiences to share for the rest of the season to come.”
“It’s important not to let your hearing loss bring you down, and don’t let anyone have lower expectations of you just because you can’t always hear as well!”