“Hearing loss was holding back academic performance”

“I am always amazed at how much of a difference a hearing device can make in someone’s life, especially if they are given the opportunity and the chance to obtain one when they couldn’t at first.” — Melissa Tumblin, Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community

Name: Andrew Perry
Profession: Student
Indication: Bilateral microtia, atresia and Treacher Collins syndrome

Listening in a crowded classroom can be tough for anyone. Based on his own experience with hearing loss, Andrew’s father believed that hearing loss was negatively affecting Andrew’s academic performance. Andrew’s audiologist discovered Ear Community while looking for ways to help him, and the results have allowed Andrew to hear better – both inside and outside of the classroom.

Managing hearing loss

Andrew Perry, a teenager living in Commerce, Georgia, United States, with his father, Clyde, was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, bilateral microtia and atresia. He has conductive hearing loss in both ears. Although he had one Ponto Pro, when Andrew began to fall behind in class, his father and teachers knew it may be because he was having trouble hearing in the classroom. 

“Andrew had fallen behind in school because he wasn’t fully hearing. He could only hear on one side, so he had to turn if the sound was coming from the wrong direction,” explained Clyde Perry, who speaks from experience as a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) user himself. “He was struggling to participate in conversations because of background noise that would get in the way of the words and communication that he needed to hear.” 

Straining to hear was having an impact on Andrew’s education, and it can also make someone with a hearing loss feel tired throughout the day. So, Andrew and his father went to their audiologist.

Exploring options

Due to Andrew’s microtia and atresia, he had limited options to help with his hearing loss; before he tried out a BAHS, he had simply gone without any device at all. “At one point, he had nothing at all, and he was able to try out two sound processors and they worked well,” said Clyde. To hear from both sides and increase clarity in order to facilitate hearing in noisy environments such as the classroom, Andrew needed a Ponto on his left side as well.
Andrew’s father submitted an application to their insurance provider for a second BAHS, but it was declined. Understanding Andrew’s need, his audiologist turned to a non-profit organization called Ear Community for Andrew’s second Ponto Pro. The brain relies on equal input from both ears in order to separate noise from speech signals, the audiologist explained.

Hearing clearly in the classroom

With the help of two bone anchored hearing devices, Andrew now has the opportunity to detect soft speech sounds in both ears, helping improve his ability to localize sound and articulation and follow classroom instructions, even among background noise. 
 
“Now, he picks things up pretty easily as people speak. His teachers have said the same thing,” Clyde said. “Andrew is happy, I’m happy and his teachers are happy. They also use an FM system that sends speech from the teachers and classmates directly to his Ponto, ensuring that important speech is louder than the background noise in the classroom so that Andrew doesn’t miss anything in class.”