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Living With the Pain of Hearing Impairment

March 13, 2000

Many thanks to The Times staff for the Feb. 28 series of articles on hearing impairment. I have suffered with tinnitus for over 15 years, a condition that you accurately describe.

The real pain comes not so much from the condition itself, but from the way I am treated by others, particularly loved ones.

Over the years, I struggled to rise to the executive level of a local fast-food chain, often facing embarrassment from those using my condition against me. I was eventually forced out. Why? Because I failed to listen.

I have gone through the breakup of two marriages because "I wasn't listening."

When I ask loved ones to speak clearly, they typically respond, "Get a hearing aid." A hearing aid amplifies sound; it does nothing to cancel the ringing of tinnitus. I have eventually withdrawn from the public work force--out of necessity--and write at home and work in background acting, where the terms "action" and "cut" are easily understood. I avoid restaurants, parties or clubs where noise negates any meaningful conversation.

I am making a copy of The Times articles and sending them to my family and friends in the hopes that they will read them, gain a better understanding of my condition, and develop the patience with me that I have had with them for 15 years.

--DAVID SHANNON

Glendale

*

The article "Count the Toes, Test the Ears" (Feb. 28) is a first step in spreading the word about California's Newborn Hearing Screening Program. Although the article gives some basic information about why it is important to screen a baby's hearing, it does not explain that there are a variety of Early Start programs available to help babies with hearing impairments develop their communication, motor, play and socialization skills.

These programs are administered by Special Education Local Planning Areas (SELPAs) or school districts. They are available free of charge to qualified children, from birth to age 3. The programs serve young children in their homes and/or in centers.

To learn more about the program or to make referrals, please call the Foothill SELPA at (818) 246-3841. Families residing in other areas can call their local school districts or the CaliforniaEarly Start Program at (800) 515-BABY.

--SUSAN SIMON

Speech Infant-Toddler

Coordinator

Foothill SELPA

*

Omitted from your list of resources was John Tracy Clinic, one of L.A.'s oldest and most respected centers for young deaf children and their families. Founded in 1942 by Louise Tracy, wife of Spencer Tracy, whose son, John, was born deaf, John Tracy Clinic offers all of its services free. The clinic offers audiological examinations, parent classes, and parental guidance, and our staff and volunteers perform hearing screenings on over 15,000 children a year throughout Southern California.

The clinic also offers additional educational programs, including weekly parent-infant classes, a demonstration preschool, a Friday Family school, summer sessions, worldwide correspondence courses, teacher training and a masters program.

--JAMES H. GARRITY,

President

John Tracy Clinic

806 W. Adams Blvd., L.A.

(213) 748-5481

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