A Blog to Follow

A Blog to Follow

February 25, 2016 Editorials

Opinion Editorial by Sumit Dhar, PhD

How wonderful would it be if, much like during a major event, knowledgeable commentators provided their insights on the day-to-day developments from the lives of children with hearing loss. Our encounters with these children and their families can often feel like a digitized version of their real lives, the stroboscope of an appointment illuminating a snapshot, freezing a moment in our memories, forcing us to imagine everything that must have happened in the interim. Engaged parents of children with hearing loss have at times blogged their experiences, very effectively portraying the social and emotional aspects of growing up with hearing loss. These accounts are not designed to provide scientific insight, and they rarely do. There have been exceptions—such as the 190,000 hours of video that MIT professor Deb Roy recorded in his family’s home documenting his newborn (normal hearing) son’s life. Roy, also the Chief Media Scientist at Twitter now, reduced this massive data using modern techniques to arrive at some conclusions about how language develops. His TED talk, “The birth of a word,” drew a lot of attention from a varied audience. However, the audiologist and hearing scientist in us was left asking for more. Well! We may now have a rare opportunity to peer into the life of a child growing up with mild hearing loss, through a microscope and not a bioscope.

Little T has a mild hearing loss. Little T also has a mom who is an engineer and a hearing scientist. T’s mother A has a PhD studying cochlear implants with one of the foremost experts in the field, Bob Shannon. Bookmark A’s blog “Helping Him Hear” to get a blow-by-blow on T’s hearing, speech, and language care. What sets A’s blog apart is her willingness and ability to blend reporting of events and general observations with scientific insights. It even gives us a link to a relevant paper where necessary and turns her family into a laboratory and conducts experiments on themselves to test hypotheses informally. T and A are lucky to have each other, and we are lucky to have them both.

Sumit Dhar, PhD, is one of the Academy’s associate editors for www.audiology.org and Audiology Today magazine. He is also the professor and chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northwestern University. Contact Dr. Dhar.

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