Hearing Our Way
Overcoming Obstacles: Gwendylan
HOW does Gwendylan hear? With her karate belt on, a chess piece in hand, and two hearing aids!
All About Me
Hi, I’m Gwendylan, a 6th grader from Santee, California. I love school, especially my favorite subject, math. I attend a hybrid program; 2 days a week I go to school and the other 3 days I do homeschool with my mom. I have taken piano lessons since I was 7 years old, and I love to play chess with my dad and my friends. I love nature and the outdoors, and I eat a vegan diet!
Hearing My Way
I was born with 18Q Deletion Syndrome which is a very rare chromosomal disorder. It has many symptoms, but the biggest one for me is hearing loss. I wear bilateral hearing aids and use an FM system at school. My audiologist also wears hearing aids, and I like that she understands what it is like for me. I think having hearing loss makes me special. It has made me a hard worker and made me more confident and able to speak up. I also love getting a good night’s sleep when I take my hearing aids out at night and can’t hear my little sister!
My disorder can also cause balance and coordination problems, which meant that sports like soccer, gymnastics, or baseball were challenging for me. My mom and dad searched for a good fit and thought of karate. I am so glad they did! At first it was hard, but the great thing about karate is that you move at your own pace. You practice both old and new skills over and over which is perfect for me. Karate has made me stronger and more confident than I ever thought I could be. Now I go to karate classes almost every day and practice at home, too. I compete and have earned a lot of trophies! I even get to help new kids learn sometimes; it makes me feel so happy. I really look up to my senseis (teachers), in karate because they have all worked really hard to achieve great things. They are serious, but very kind. They help me to achieve my goals, like eventually becoming a black belt. I may have to pay attention more to hear what the instructor is saying, but I know that I can do it. I think that karate is especially important for someone with hearing loss because not being able to hear could make you more vulnerable, but karate helps me pay more attention to what is going on around me. I want to be a sensei so that I can help people and inspire other kids. I think I would be a good sensei because I understand what it’s like to have challenges and can encourage others to overcome them.
I am a really good listener, but big group conversations can be really challenging for me. There have been times at school when I miss what is said and can’t keep up when a group of kids is talking. It makes me feel left out and even tired from having to pay extra attention. I also know that I go to a lot more doctor’s appointments than most kids. I have been in speech therapy since I was 2. Speaking clearly is still hard for me, but I do my best and never let it stop me from speaking in front of people.
My family loves to go camping and hiking together. When I was little, some doctors didn’t think that I would be able to do much, but my family never gave up on me. They have always believed in me and supported me. My little sister is very aware of what hearing loss is, and she speaks up for me if needed. In the morning she likes to be helpful and bring me my hearing aids or get me new batteries. The hard thing is that sometimes she will repeat herself so many times thinking that I didn’t hear her when maybe I’m just not ready to answer her yet.
This Is Me
Hearing loss is a part of me. I have always had to work harder at things and be really patient. Because of this, I don’t mind challenges and don’t give up when things may take me longer to accomplish. My best advice is to always try your best, believe in yourself, and be a good person. When things get hard, just keep going.
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