empowEAR Audiology Podcast

  • Hosted by

  • Frequency

    Two times a month
  • First Episode Date

    August 12, 2020
  • Rating

    "5" Stars
empowEAR Audiology

Listen to empowEAR Audiology Podcasts

empowEAR Audiology

Communication is connecting. Join Dr. Carrie Spangler, a passionate audiologist with a personal hearing journey, as she interviews guests who are navigating their own professional or personal journey in the hearing loss world. If you want to be empowEARed or just want to hear some great hearing and listening advice, this podcast is for you!

Meet our Podcaster

Carrie Spangler

Audiologist, Mother, Wife, Advocate, Podcaster

About Me

Carrie Spangler, Au.D, CCC-A, is a dedicated professional in the field of educational audiology with over 20 years of experience. She also has a passionate personal journey of living successfully with hearing loss in this vibrant hearing world. Dr. Spangler has turned what many view as a “disability” into an “ability”.

In November 2019, she began her cochlear implant journey, which you can follow at  hearingspanglish.blog. Empowering and helping others with hearing loss, families, and professionals is at the core of her daily work.

Dr. Spangler has numerous publications and has presented on topics related to educational audiology, advocacy, and peer supports at the state, national, and international levels. Dr. Spangler is also an active member of professional and service organizations.

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A thriving community

empowEAR Audiology Podcast Reviews

Ben Thompson, AuD
Host of the Pure

I recommend this podcast! Great podcast about hearing conditions and audiology!

Father of a child with hearing loss

I'm a parent of a child with hearing loss. This is an extremely helpful podcast to learn from and be a good parent to my daughter.

Listening Fun
Facebook empowEAR Audiology Group

I had so much fun with Carrie on her EmpowEAR Audiology podcast! We talked about itinerant teachers of the deaf and how we work to support our students with hearing loss! This was my first time being a  podcast guest!! I feel like I could talk about being a TOD indefinitely so it was a really fun experience. Go check it out on Apple podcasts! 

empowEAR Audiology Podcast Transcripts

Episode 67: empowEAR Audiology - Kellina Powell

Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 67 of empowEAR Audiology with Dr. Carrie Spangler.


Carrie: [00:00:13] Welcome to the empowEAR Audiology podcast, a production of the 3C Digital Media Network. I am your host, Dr Carrie Spangler, a passionate, deaf and hard of hearing audiologist. Each episode will bring an empowering message surrounding audiology and beyond. Thank you for spending time with me today, and let's get started with today's episode. I just want to say welcome to Kellina Powell, who is known as the deaf Queen boss. Kellina is a young entrepreneur who loves to help people with their personal growth and educate others about the deaf community. At the age of four, she lost her hearing in both ears. She did not let anything stop her from what she wanted to accomplish. She has received her psychology degree from York University and her Post Graduate Certificate in Mental Health and Addiction. She is also an entrepreneur, starting her online life coaching business, and she is the author of Everyday I Am Just Deaf. Welcome Kellina to the podcast. It is such a pleasure to have you.


Kellina: [00:01:28] Thank you for having me today. Thank you for the lovely introduction.


Carrie: [00:01:31] Yes, well, I know that we kind of connected through LinkedIn, and I am just really excited about this conversation today and to learn more about you. And I can't wait for our listeners to learn more about you as well.


Kellina: [00:01:48] Thank you. I'm excited.


Carrie: [00:01:50] Well, I know we're going to talk a lot about the book, and I want to ask you more about your coaching business, too, but would you mind just giving everybody an overview of your hearing journey and how that started and any other feedback you want to give about that?


Kellina: [00:02:09] Yeah, honestly, I actually became deaf at the age of four. I was not born deaf. So they were things shift for me at a young woman had a baby. So I, a young girl, and I actually became deaf due to an infection due to the daycare not following the infection for the eardrop, unfortunately. So I did became deaf within that same day. So when I went home I was watching TV. My mom tapped me on my shoulder and that's when I realized that I couldn't hear my mom. My mom freaked out. She called my family doctor, actually, before she called my family doctor, she called my grandma, who was the nurse at the time, thankfully, whoa I wouldn't know what I'd be without. My grandma and my grandma knew instantly that I was deaf. She knew. And so over time when I got my hearing loss, I just struggled a lot with, um, being like having mental health in terms of anxiety, nervousness, confusion. Actually, that was a big thing I learned when I was growing up, especially going to a deaf school and a hearing school. And so my family really wanted me to learn how to communicate in two different hearing communities, to let me know who I am as a person. Especially, especially knowing that knowing my familyis deaf. So it was very hard, especially growing up, going into middle school and high school and learning who I am as a person, because I ended up going to the deaf school after grade three, so I actually ended up going to school full time. So it was a very hard, a little bit of struggle, but it was definitely worth it to help me shape who I am today. And, you know, now going to University, it was really great. Um, but yeah, so that's pretty much about me for now. That's the backstory, but we'll get into the rest of the story.


Carrie: [00:03:52] Oh, wow. Wow. Just hearing a little bit of your backstory, um, we definitely have some, some similar connections in, uh, certain ways. So just a little feedback. I, um, was born deaf, but I, they didn't find out who I was four, so that's when I was first identified and fit with hearing aids too. So I can relate, um, about going through, um, a more mainstream school and middle school and high school and some of the challenges that go along with that.


Kellina: [00:04:26] Yeah, yeah.


Carrie: [00:04:29] So as, um, did any of your experiences as an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing help you decide what you wanted to do now in life? And can you share a little bit about your job?


Kellina: [00:04:44] Yeah. For sure. So, um, so what happened was like now growing up, graduating from university and going to college, I did come across a friend of mine who is hard of hearing person, and we were talking about how there is a lot of lack of awareness about the deaf community and how there's not enough professionals in the mental health space field. And that's when I realized that, oh my God, it's so true. Because when I was in high school, I did look up for deaf or hard of hearing therapist for to help me with my anxiety, and I couldn't find nothing in my. For those who probably just wondering, I'm from Canada Toronto, so it's very hard to find, um, deaf and hard of hearing therapists in Canada. So what happened was I realized that I wanted to do something to make a difference in the deaf community walls and let them know that their voice can be heard, especially if those who are struggling with their mental health. And so that's what impacts me to really start my coaching business, and even working as a social worker as well. And that's because I wanted to make an impact on other people and really help those who need a voice and actually help them to get the access and the tools that they need.


Carrie: [00:06:02] Wow. I love how you kind of took your own experiences and were able to kind of further your education, but also help others too. And I would agree with you that there are not enough, um, professionals who are deaf and hard of hearing in the mental health space, whether it's social work or counseling, psychology, coaching, there's just not very many people. And do you feel like your experiences and going into this field has what's the impact that it has on your clients or the patients that you get to see?


Kellina: [00:06:45] Um, so I made a huge impact. And a lot of people I came across, um, I learned a lot more about myself, actually, while I'm doing the job. Right? Because sometimes everybody, every client, every patient you meet with are totally different. And every single one person I've ever worked with, they all think to me, you know, Kellina, you're very open and you are very honest. And you give me a voice. I always ask different question for everybody and let them know, like, okay, well if you can do this, how can we do this? How can we get a solution out of the problem? And that's something I love doing, is solving problems with a lot of the people I work with. And so that's what made me impactful on people to make them realize that their problem can be solved.


Carrie: [00:07:29] Yes. And I know we're going to get a little bit into your coaching in a few minutes. But before we do that, I do want to ask you a couple of things about your book, which I am so excited to have in front of me today, and it is titled Every Day I am just Deaf. So can you just share a little bit about your journey of becoming a writer and what inspired you to write?


Kellina: [00:07:58] Um, yeah. Oh, my God, that story is very funny. A lot of people. So what inspired me to write my book is basically, I realized, not growing up once again, that every time I pick a book, it's not by a deaf author. It's very hard to find that. And I realized that there are not enough books for teenagers or those who are young pre-teen who can relate to their story. So that's why I said no, let me write a book for those next generation, to let them know that their voice can be heard. If I can do it, you can do it as well. There's no way that you can't do it. That's because you are deaf and that's not. And because for me, I never had a role model, I never did. When I grow up, it was very hard. Like, for example, on TV Hollywood, there's nothing, you know, just recently, now they just started having deaf actors, deaf producers. They just started that slowly. It didn't happen when I was growing up, and I wanted that to change so much. And how I start writing my book was actually due to Covid. I was like, what? Yeah, so I actually wrote my book within three months because of Covid. I was very bored. I had to work from home, I quit a few jobs and it was just a lot of transition I have to do because of Covid and just because of the mask. So it was very hard for me to communicate while I was working. So I ended up having to work from home. And so my book took me three months to write because again, I was bored. In Covid, you can't go anywhere. And, um, I find a lot of, uh, resources through, uh, friends. Close friends. They refer me to a lot of editors, um, graphic designer, which is amazing. And. Yeah, and that's really how I started my book.


Carrie: [00:09:44] Wow. Yeah. I think a lot of, a lot of great ideas did start during Covid, even though it was a lot of negativity in it. There's like some positive things that came out of it.


Kellina: [00:09:57] Right, exactly. Yeah. So, um.


Carrie: [00:10:01] So looking at your book, uh, how did you decide to really come the format of your book?


Kellina: [00:10:09] So I always love reading poetry book. That's number one. I always love reading it. I could not read a chapter book. Believe me when I tell everybody that, like, people like, really? And I said I cannot read a chapter book, I just cannot. So what I said was, what is it? I want my readers to get out of this book. That's the first thing I thought right? Then I realized that I wanted my readers to understand what I went through, to let them let them know that they're not alone. So I said, hmm, maybe I can make it short and make it a poetry just because I love poems and make it like a poem. And then I honestly type it in on Google, um, Google Docs and I just type and I like, you know, I think this is it. I think this is my book. And I did have a lot of doubt because I was like, oh my God, who's gonna buy my book? This book going to look good. I was so nervous. Um, honestly, I was super nervous because I didn't know what to expect. And the editor end up reading the book and she said, this book is amazing. I'm like, it is? I think she and she said yes. So that's how I had that idea.


Carrie: [00:11:22] I love it because it is. It is such a great collection of different poems, like you said. But there's you can see, you know, some of your struggles in the poems, but then you also have a great balance of like building your self esteem and empowerment and resilience built into the book as well.


Kellina: [00:11:49] Yeah. Yes, yes.


Carrie: [00:11:52] So do you have, like a favorite, uh, part or a poem within the book? I know I'm putting you on the spot.


Kellina: [00:12:01] It's all good. Um, I would say the poem was one again. Um, so for everybody, there's so many pages in my book. Um, it was a poem about. I was thanking my family and friends for allowing me to be myself without having to second guess me.


Carrie: [00:12:19] Oh, I love that. So we all have our own journey and no matter what it is but and it's great to have that acceptance of who you are no matter what to you.


Kellina: [00:12:30] Exactly.


Carrie: [00:12:31] Yeah. And then obviously all of your personal experiences really influenced the writing process and the themes of the book. Just kind of the switch a little bit. In your opinion, what are some of the common misconceptions about deaf and hard of hearing individuals, and how does that book challenge those stereotypes?


Kellina: [00:12:56] For sure. So then the one data type that a lot of deaf and hard of hearing get is that we cannot achieve a lot of things in life. For example, we can't get a job right, and a lot of people think that they can't work. And to a lot of times people think that every deaf person knows ASL, where some of us don't know. Right. And so I feel like a lot of people assume that they cannot communicate with a deaf or hard of hearing individual, and that if that comes to me and they just look at my face and I'm like, hi, I can help you. And so they get confused when they see my hearing aids. And so a lot of times people don't know how to approach that. And again, it's not their fault. Right? There's a lot of lack of education about the deaf community and a lot of lack of communication like what it is. So yeah. And remember you have a second question. Remember the second question was kind of two question.


Carrie: [00:13:55] Yeah. And then um, you know, how does your book challenge those stereotypes then.


Kellina: [00:14:02] So it was a challenge, honestly, to writing a book as a poem, because I did not want the hearing community to feel like we are attacking them. But we're not right. We want to educate them and say, hey, this is what we go through. And it is true, right? And so I remember my editor saying, oh, there's something that you shouldn't say because some people may get offended. And I said, no, it's not offended. It's it's about education. And it's very important because a lot of deaf people I know go through the same thing, and it's not fair. Why should we shut a mouth so that other person feel comfortable, which is not fair. And so that's a little bit of a challenge when I write my book, because I didn't want it to be in a bad negative way for the hearing person who was reading the book. And I don't want them to think of it negative, but I do want them to know that it can happen to you as well. You could wake up tomorrow deaf too, or a broken arm or anything. Anything can happen. You're 1% away from being disabled as well. Mhm. Mhm.


Carrie: [00:15:04] Yeah. And I think one of the things someone said to me one time is you when you've met one deaf or hard of hearing person, you've met one deaf or hard of hearing person because like you just said, we're everybody is a little bit different. And that's what I really like about your book because you, you do challenge, I think the audience or the readers to kind of be in the shoes, but you have a beautiful way of showing it that, uh, that we are all different, even though we all have a commonality of being deaf or hard of hearing to.


Kellina: [00:15:44] Exactly, exactly. And that's really what I was trying to come across. I did not want people to feel like, okay, only, you know, it's also your truth and anybody else can feel that way as well.


Carrie: [00:15:56] Yes. So I have to ask you, how did you. How did you get your name, Deaf Queen boss?


Kellina: [00:16:05] That's. I get that question a lot. Okay? I get that question a lot. I'm sorry that you ordered that deaf queen boss, but how do you come up with that name? So what I did was, first thing, I just make sure I went on Google type in to make sure that no one had my name. Okay, so I did type in that queen and I actually had a piece of paper beside me also, and I had my little sister with me too. To me, her coming up with a nickname. So my sister wrote down, oh, that queen something, right? But I knew I wanted something in there with the Queen and deaf. I wanted those two words so much. And so we found one person that had, um, deaf, fdeaf queen or something. And then so I'm like, okay, I can't copy that name. And so my sister said, okay, let's change it up to Boss Queen. So I said, okay, well, I don't know. I don't consider myself a boss, but my doctor said, you are because I'm the oldest in my family. So. Yeah. And so I was playing with the words, playing with the names like content consistently for like two hours. And I'm like, I love the Deaf Queen Boss. And I love that. And I stick with it. And I'm not changing no more names because it was two hours. I'm like, yes.


Carrie: [00:17:18] I love it because, you know, it just fits and and the cover of your book and then it gives you that name in the community too. One thing, one other thing about, um, your book, before we kind of move on to maybe a little bit about coaching too, but how do you envision, like, the impact of your book within the deaf and hard of hearing community and then even within the hearing community, what kind of conversation do you hope it might spark?


Kellina: [00:17:52] Um, my hope is really just to inspire people to understand that no matter where you come from, just one, two, that you matter what you have. And number three, it doesn't matter what level you are in life, that you cannot achieve it. And while I wanted to impact, that's the most important thing is the impact. And I know that spark would give a lot of people to really understand. Like, wow, I never read a book by a deaf author. 90% of people I communicate with who I'm hearing, they tell me they're like, you know, you're the first that I've read. I'm like, really? And so that's when I realized that I knew my book was going to spark the hearing community because they never read a book by a deaf author. And a lot of them never interact with the deaf, hard of hearing person. So it's very interesting for the hearing community to see that and be like, oh, wow. So that is what my impact I really, really want my book to have.


Carrie: [00:18:48] Well, I think it definitely will. And I do love that you've targeted kind of I feel like, you know, a teenager or a young adult or an adult could pick this up and, and really gain a lot from it. As an educational audiology audiologist, I feel like there's definitely, um, more and more books for the younger part, like children's books that are coming out, which is awesome because they have that representation in books. But like you said, you know, the adult population or the teen population, there's not a whole lot out there, especially by, like you said, a deaf or hard of hearing author. So thanks to Covid that you got inspired.


Kellina: [00:19:39] Yeah, thanks to Covid. That's the one. Good thing about Covid. Everyone.


Carrie: [00:19:42] Well Kellina I got her book published in three months, which is like a record time for a book, I'm sure. So, but before we wrap up, I also wanted to ask you a little bit about your coaching business, because, again, that is something else that we have in common. I, um, just obtained my coaching certification, and I know you have a coaching business called Kellina Empowerment Incorporated. So can you share a little bit about your journey to becoming a life coach?


Kellina: [00:20:16] Yeah, definitely. So like I said before, everyone, I just spoke about my mental health. So I realized that I wanted to make a change. And so how I started was actually it was because of one of my deaf professors. So I had no idea he was deaf, to be honest. So what happened was he was teaching a lecture and he took one second. I have to change my hearing aid. So I paused for a second myself. I'm like, wait, did you just change your hearing aid in front of the whole lecture? And he and I was like, oh my God, he's deaf. Oh my God, I was so excited. And I honestly spoke to him. And at the end of class, I'm like, how you have the confidence. And we had a really great conversation about confidence and mental health. And he asked me, what did you want to do? And I said, honestly, sir, I wanted to impact people. I want to help the deaf community to get them stuff out there more, just like the way you and I are. And he said, why don't you become a coach or something that in the mental health space. So I said, okay, maybe I'm thinking about it.


Kellina: [00:21:21] And luckily a couple of months later, I met. I met my mentor and she recommended me to be a coach. And I said, okay, this is the time for me to do coaching now. So then I actually went back to school once I graduated from psychology degree to do mental health and addiction diploma or certificate. And so I said, you know what? Let me just go ahead and do it with a six month program. And I did it. And then I started it online. I started using my social media platform to market myself. I had no expectation, and a lot of people realized like, oh my God, you're a coach. Oh my God, you're so good. And I got a lot of referrals, referrals, referrals, like crazy. And I said, oh my God. And so I was very excited. Um, yeah. It was a struggle, especially in the beginning, because you don't know what to do because I was confused. And but I have a great network when I connect with a lot of people, ask them for their advice and how do they market themselves bigger? It was very cool and interesting journey.


Carrie: [00:22:21] Well, that is exciting and I love how you had two important people in your life who kind of directed you and you listened. So you then listen to your heart and you were able to do, um, something that would pass it or pay it forward to others, too. And that mental health space for coaching. I know coaching can be like a wide range of, um, areas too. For you What is your target client base then?


Kellina: [00:22:53] For sure. So I have multiple things in the business side for those who are like, okay, what does Kellina do? So I do one on one coaching for young adults with disability and without disability. So I work with clients from age 15 to 35 years old and had to do a workshop for organization, and I do consulting as well to help others to understand themselves. Um, I do work with organizations in terms of with my coaching. So I do budget with organization. So that's what my company is all about.


Carrie: [00:23:25] Okay and how long do you typically work with a client when you're working with them.


Kellina: [00:23:31] So it all depends on the clients, right. Every clients are different. So I do have two different packets. So I do have a standard package which is the very beginner package for someone who new. So that is the three month program. And then I do have a six month program for those who are interested. Couselor before, who knows what they want out of their goals, especially out of the house. So that is my um. Yeah, that's my 6 month program. So.


Carrie: [00:23:58] Okay. Do you have maybe just a little success story or anything that you can share from your coaching practice that really resonates with you?


Kellina: [00:24:11] Yeah, for sure. Definitely. I actually did coach, um, she was actually, um, a friend of mine who wanted to coach by me, and she did had, uh, struggled with her anxiety. And so she didn't know what to do in terms of how to network and go up to people. And she was afraid of saying no to people. She thought the expert thing. And so what I did was a three month program. We met. We met once a week, and we stood down once a week, and we go through all the things that she struggled through. Who does she have a hard time saying no to? We break it down. And so we practiced with role play. So our role play and she will role play. So that way she has an idea what it is and what may happen next. Because some people were indicted, they have to know what's going to happen next. Right. And they do need to practice. So I did that with her, and I did provide a worksheet for her to work on while she's at home. So this is where she had homework to do. Well, not really homework, but it's like a practice. And it's like activities where I break down, you know, who do I who did I say no to today? Who did I say yes to today? So that way she can visually see how many yeses she's saying in one day for her to realize, oh my God, this is too many. Yes. And I remember she realized and she, she came to me to follow me. She's like, oh my God, there's so many yesterday. This is so bad. Kellina and I just okay, it's practice, right? You learn, you have to register. And she thought about work and she was like, oh my God, this is this is amazing. Because for three months she realized and understood and yeah. And that's one of the story.


Carrie: [00:25:50] That's great. So the teach somebody what is the best yes for you right.


Kellina: [00:25:56] Yes.


Carrie: [00:25:58] We don't have to say yes to everything. But what is your best Yes. Right. What advice do you have for individuals who might be seeking out coaching? I mean, who is coaching for.


Kellina: [00:26:10] Um, coaching could be for anybody. It's really depend what the person needs help with. I always tell everybody, before you get a coach, please sit down with them and ask them questions. What are their success stories? How many clients succeed in your program because you do want to make sure that you're not wasting your money? That's the last thing I want people to do when they're working with me. They feel like we did not accomplish the goal. That's the worst thing I want. I know there are some coach who are overly priced and some people are like, oh, but they're the best. They said, it doesn't matter. Price should not be a guide. Price should not define someone's success. Right. And I also tell people there may be better people who may be affordable. And you realize that you get more than the expensive coach. And you realize that happened to me before I remember I hired, I think it was the Instagram coach and one of them wasn't. It wasn't good, but it was okay. And then I ended up having another business coach, and she was amazing. And she was affordable because I was nervous because I thought, oh no, it's affordable. Am I going to get a different result from a different coach? So always keep your options open. Talk to at least two coach when you're deciding, because that way you have better options and understand where can you go with it and what is your take that most likely will look like?


Carrie: [00:27:33] Yeah, that that's great advice to kind of check out a couple of people and meet with them and see if your, um, your connection's good too, right? Exactly, exactly. Yeah. So Kellina, this was such an amazing conversation between, like, meeting you. Um, I know we've met, like, through LinkedIn, but I can tell just from our meeting today that we would just click and I wish we were in real life in person together as well. Is there anything, as we wrap up that I missed or I didn't ask you?


Kellina: [00:28:12] Um, I think you asked me a lot of questions. However, you maybe did not ask me what is one piece of advice I would leave for someone? So my advice I would love to give to everybody who are listening is you have to remember like it's your life and your decision. Whatever you do, it's on you, not somebody else. You have to live your life like there's no tomorrow because tomorrow is not a promise. You never know when God's going to knock on the door for you to go home.


Carrie: [00:28:41] I love that live for today, right?


Kellina: [00:28:44] Exactly. Yes.


Carrie: [00:28:46] Ahh. Kellina if there if any of our listeners, they want to find you if they want to order your book, which I would highly recommend all of my listeners to definitely order the book because it is such a great quick read, but it has so many high points and advice in it that I think anyone should, whether you have a hearing loss or not, should pick up. Um, and gather more information from from the book. So let me know how people can get a hold of you.


Kellina: [00:29:24] Yeah, definitely. I really can get a hold of me on Instagram, which is Deaf Queen Boss. And second, you can find my book on Amazon. You can just type in Kellina Powell and my book would be right there for you. And lastly, if you want to check out my website it is Kellina empowerment. Com.


Carrie: [00:29:40] Okay. Well Kellina, I just want to say thank you for being a guest and the empowEAR Audiology podcast. It was such a pleasure to have this conversation today. And my listener, thank you again for listening to EmpowEAR Audiology. I really appreciate all of you, uh, giving me a five star review if you can, and sharing this podcast with anyone else that may be interested. So thanks again, Kellina.


Kellina: [00:30:13] Thank you for having me.


Announcer: [00:30:14] Thank you for listening. This has been a production of the 3C Digital Media Network.




Episode 66: empowEAR Audiology - Gil Kaminski

Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 66 of empowEAR Audiology with Doctor Carrie Spangler.


Carrie: [00:00:13] Welcome to the empowEAR Audiology podcast, a production of the 3C Digital Media Network. I am your host, doctor Carrie Spangler, a passionate, deaf and hard of hearing audiologist. Each episode will bring an empowering message surrounding audiology and beyond. Thank you for spending time with me today and let's get started with today's episode. Welcome everyone! I have Gil Kaminski, with me today and she is a product management and Clinical Operations leader with over 15 years of experience in healthcare, artificial intelligence and machine learning. She is the co-founder of Humelan, a public benefit corporation committed to helping individuals navigate the complexities of hearing, health and wellness through its person centered approach, community support, and an AI companion app, Humelan provides a comprehensive solution to those experiencing hearing loss. Her career is rooted in technology, research and development and clinical operations, having contributed to various healthcare and medtech organizations including including Laguana Health, DaVita Kidney Care, Wide Med Limited, and the Israel Defense Force Naval Medical Institute. Gil holds an MBA from the Wharton School and a Bachelors of Science and Biomedical Engineering from the Israel Institute of Technology. Gil, welcome to the podcast today.


Gil: [00:01:56] Hi Gary. So happy to be here. Thank you for having me.


Carrie: [00:02:00] Yes, I'm so excited. And I, I'm excited that the fact that we got connected was through LinkedIn and through a common, um, colleague who was part of the Ida Institute for Person Centered Care. So it just kind of interesting how paths cross.


Gil: [00:02:22] Yes, 100%. Yeah.


Carrie: [00:02:24] Yeah. And I wanted to, um, dive really deep into Humelan today and all of that it has to offer. But as we get started, can you just share with our listeners what Humelan is?


Gil: [00:02:39] Yeah, sure. So Humelan is a public benefit corporation, and we're really focusing on supporting people with different hearing levels. And our goal is to really see everybody, um, getting all the information and the support that they need within the space of, of, uh, hearing loss.


Carrie: [00:02:58] Okay. And I know you have a story and an inspiration behind starting here Humelan, can you share a little bit about that too?


Gil: [00:03:07] Yeah, sure. So my, um, really journey with hearing loss started as a child and um, in my case, it's not my own hearing loss, but I as I was growing up, my mother was losing her hearing and really was growing deaf. And she was hearing using hearing aids since I can remember her. And for a while there, they were just kind of this accessory that was around the house on the drawer, you know, in the kitchen. But I can't say that they were really in use as much as one would have expected. And when I think that all changed when I was about 12. Um, she's also an ENT and a surgeon, and when she was doing her fellowship, that's when she really started to use them. She also continued to lose her hearing, so she needed them more and more. But I think really there was a change for her when she met the right clinician, the right audiologist, who really showed her, uh, kind of the the tricks and the best tips on how to really benefit from hearing aids. Um, and then fast forward, she did her fellowship in cochlear implants. Um, and she's a cochlear implant surgeon. And then fast forward, she continued to to lose her hearing, unfortunately, and ended up using cochlear implants herself. And so really, I was growing up kind of experiencing progressive hearing loss progression, really from hearing aids to then. I'm an expert on the FM system. I've used it everywhere you can imagine. Um, and then all the way to, to her first cochlear implant and then her second. And I've also over the years have worked with my mother when I was younger and she was building her clinic, her private clinic, and and so I've also experienced her as a physician.


Gil: [00:04:52] And so it's really all of those experiences that really kind of brought me back. And, and I would say even the very beginning of deciding to learn biomedical engineering and specializing in AI and signal processing, for me, a lot of it had to do with hearing aids and cochlear implants and getting really excited about what that can do. And to me, cochlear implants are kind of like magic because I've seen, you know, that year before you get them and and how that's like and then a month later and how that felt for, for me as a communication partner to my mom. And so for me, that was really kind of like my professional journey to choosing to, to become an engineer. And then fast forward, I was working on all kinds of other different technologies and kidney and sleep medicine and a lot of other stuff. And so for a long, long time really wanted to come back to the to the hearing space. And over the past about 12 months, I felt like, this is this is the right time. Like things are changing. Awareness is, you know, growing over the counter hearing aids are coming out whether we like them or not. They're they're there. And so that's such an interesting change. And then when you see what the World Health Organization is doing today and the Ida Institute and all of those things coming together, I was really, really inspired to go back to hearing to the hearing space and to collaborate with my mom again.


Carrie: [00:06:20] Wow. I love how you've taken just from a young age your personal journey, and really intertwined it with a professional journey that can really empower other people, which is kind of your your vision, which is powerful for Humelan  to empower human potential through communication, equity. And I know you have a lot of purposes and objectives or not a lot a several main purposes and objectives for Humelan, which include community knowledge and events. So if it's okay with you, I would love to kind of dive into those three areas and  see, um, how you how does Humelan foster these supportive communities. You shared a little bit about your own growing up and and being a support, um, communication partner for your mom, but I would love to hear how this is going to be a support for others.


Gil: [00:07:18] Yeah I know thank you for that question. So I think like for, for us, what was really interesting for me, unlike I think most other people, I didn't realize that having a different hearing evel is, is something that different people look at in different ways. For me, it was so natural growing up with my mom, with hearing aids, and then with cochlear implants, that it was just part of our lives. And I was always, um, really inspired by that technology. But I never thought of it twice. For me, hearing aids is kind of like putting on glasses. And I'm also very fortunate because my mom has so much knowledge about, um, hearing aids, hearing aids and aural rehabilitation. And where do you stand when you're talking to someone who has a different hearing level? And I'm always I'm always used to walking on people's, you know, on one side of everyone. And people sometimes almost find it weird. They're like, why are you moving to my other side? But that's my mom's better side. So that's the side I've always been walking on, and I'm always thinking of where do I sit so the other person can hear me and that I can hear them best? And I think all of those little things, um, when you bring them all together, all that body of knowledge, at some point I realized I'm so fortunate with my mother's hearing loss that she knew so much that she could teach us me and my siblings, my father, everybody in our family.


Gil: [00:08:52] Enough about it that we really have good communication. I mean, we live in different countries. We speak on the phone almost every day, and it's never been the communication aspect. And even in our relationship, it's never been a barrier for us. And. even And I think that that's I realize at some point that's not the norm for everybody, because there's a learning curve that you need to get through, um, to be able to do all those things. And then there's another circle, right, of going out and, um, listening to lectures, for example, or giving lectures and all those other steps and things in your day to day life that you need to do as a person with a different hearing level. And you may not know even that there's knowledge out there and that can support you in that. And so for us, it was really important to put a lot of a lot of different ways to provide that information to people. And you mentioned the communities and different events, and we're building an AI, um, hearing coach that would also be able to help people and enhance what the audiologist is already doing with people. And so all of that is really to provide people the knowledge that they need when they need it in a very personalized way and in different modes of, of, um, models of communication, of information, so that it's easy for people to get what they need out of it.


Gil: [00:10:20] And at the end of the day, the goal is to kind of help you ask what you don't know to ask, because sometimes you don't know, especially with communication. You don't know what you don't know if that makes sense. And so it's so specific to a certain point in life. Like you're you're new to college, you're walking into a classroom. If you don't know that there are certain things that you should be given, you're not going to know how to ask for them. And, you know, an example is. One of the people we were supporting through our coaching recently. That person was new to hearing aids and had no idea that there is microphones that you could use. And for those listening to the podcast who may not know what those are, we can get into that later. But basically, imagine there's a little microphone, um, that the person you're speaking with can use and they talk into that little microphone and that goes directly into your hearing aid. So if you're in a noisy environment, it makes it makes it so much easier to hear them. And. This person. Really, that was a huge help for them. But they would have never, never known to ask for it. And so for us, some of it is just guessing what people are going to need and being able to provide it at the right time.


Carrie: [00:11:40] Yeah, that just in time. Learning is such an important part of the the hearing journey and knowing like what you said to ask for and things like that. Um, one of the things as far as the, the communities go, who should be involved in the communities and know you did mention, um, individuals who are on that hearing journey, but should anyone else also be involved in these communities?


Gil: [00:12:09] Yeah, I certainly think, um, and the way we're building the communities is anybody can open one on our website today. So if you go to Humelan.com, you can just open one or you can join one. The way we're thinking about them is both people who are experiencing, um, hearing loss or have had a different hearing levels for a while, but also people like myself who have a family member who has hearing loss, and maybe they're new to it or they've they've had it for a while, but you need to you want to learn more, or maybe you just want to have a community of people who are experiencing a similar thing. And I think there's just a lot of shared life experiences for both family members and people with hearing loss, and no one else would have had those specific experiences. And I think that's really important. Um, and I also envision at some point having communities for professionals who are responsible at different institutes to make sure that there is accessibility, because I think they must have a lot of questions. And I think people are really, really well intentioned to do the right thing. But there's just so much you need to know around hearing to do the right thing. And I think those communities could be a great place as well for people to go and just ask the questions.


Carrie: [00:13:29] Yeah, what a great way to support so many different people. You also talked about Humelan and creating like a knowledge hub too, that provides a lot of information on hearing, health and wellness. What kind of topics of knowledge would someone be able to find in your knowledge hub?


Gil: [00:13:50] Yeah. Thank you. So we're we're really thinking about what kind of questions someone with hearing loss and their support system might have. And so we started with things that are very, um, very common for people to ask, like, do I have hearing loss? Does my partner have hearing loss? We're having a family dinner and I have a guest who has hearing loss. What do I do? We want to cook together. What what does that look like? And none of it is straightforward. So some of it is just those type of tips. Some of our blogs as well are more kind of touching the semi clinical meaning none of them are going to replace clinical advice, none of them are replacing an audiologist or a physician, but some of them would be on topics like what is sensorineural hearing loss? What does that mean? Kind of like your your guide to sensorineural hearing loss without reading the 80 page guidelines. Yeah.


Carrie: [00:14:52] So everyday language of what sensorineural hearing loss is or other types of hearing loss to. Yeah. Well it's great to have that unbiased information in one place so that people can go to and like you said, probably um, digestible information too. So you're not reading somebodies term paper to figure out something like, how do I cook with somebody that has a different hearing level?


Gil: [00:15:20] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And sometimes we even get questions like, we recently had someone email us with a question about hearing loss and music. And so we kind of put together all the knowledge that's out there on that topic, which is a really complex topic. It's not a straightforward topic. Um, and try to really to really provide like a good, a good kind of summary of that for them.


Carrie: [00:15:46] Okay. And then the other, um, kind of area that you want to focus on is events as well. And I know and I was able to attend, um, you and some others launched an event on World Hearing Day titled um, and I might get it wrong. Is it heart the heart initiative or hear-t initiative?


Gil: [00:16:11] It's a either way the the hear t but with a twist on on heart. Yep. Okay. They hear technology. Yeah.


Carrie: [00:16:19] Yeah. So pioneering the future of hearing health care. Do you want to share a little bit about that recent event that you had.


Gil: [00:16:28] Yeah, sure. So So HearT is another really great initiative that's, uh, um, a few of us, um, women in the space of hearing health and really are the main thing we're looking there at is, again, person centered care, which is really the center of everything that I'm involved with these days. And you mentioned Ida Institute before, which we love, and we look at their resources a lot to HEART is really what we're trying to do there is to bring, uh, both clinicians and, uh, people with different hearing levels to the same events, to the same, uh, place, and also people who might be using hearing aids or might be using cochlear implants or not, might not be using any technology right now and just bring everybody to the same place, because we think in this space of audiology today, um, there's not enough in, in my view at least. So just speaking for myself right now, there's not enough of, um, having all of those people in the same place at the same time. And so we really put HEART together with the thought of, how do you how do we do that? How do we bring everyone together, um, to the same discussions. And so that's where that started. And we're going to have more events, um, coming soon for HEART. So be on the outlook for that as well.


Carrie: [00:17:52] All right. And then I know that you and I have an exciting event coming up. Um, and I'm excited to talk about it on today's podcast. So if you happen to be listening before April 4th of 2024, we are going to be Gil and I are going to be co, um, hosting an event from 7 to 8 Eastern time targeting teachers and educators. Uh, and it's titled Hearing Health for Teachers How to Hear Better in the Classroom. Do you want to share any about anything about that?


Gil: [00:18:26] Yeah, sure. And I'm super, super excited for that event. Um, and I, I don't know if I shared with you, Carrie, just yet, but some of the comments from people who are attending are are really awesome. So, you know, you and I looked at where there is either lack of awareness, which population needs more awareness or who really, um, hearing loss is affecting their ability to work or impacting, you know, their ability to work, their burnout, things like that. And, and just from our conversations with people through the coaching that we're doing, we found out that teaching is and it makes sense, right? You're standing in front of a class and if you don't hear well, um, it's very uncomfortable. And so actually, my dad, who used to be a teacher and also has hearing loss, one of the things he told me when I first asked him, I was like, what made you get your first hearing aid? Because he's a stubborn guy, um, as many people are, but he certainly is one. And he said, you know what it was? I was standing in front of a class and he was teaching high school, and they were all talking, and I could not tell where the voice was coming from, so I could hear what they were saying.


Gil: [00:19:39] I thought I understood what they were saying, but I couldn't tell which which student was saying what. And so for him, that was really impacting his ability to work. And so luckily for him, he's married to my mother, who knows a lot about hearing. So his path to getting the the support he needed was a very fast one. And he was he was on the right kind of path very quickly. But that made me think about teachers in general. And then as you and I were having conversations with different people, I think it was just very clear that it's a huge there's a huge gap there, and people could really use help understanding what kind of accessories they can use and just understanding more about it. And, and really also how to combat, um, burnout and listening fatigue. So we're going to talk about all of that very soon.


Carrie: [00:20:28] I know. And then I think that was there was a statistic that I found that 27% of educators suspect having hearing difficulties, which in turn impacts the ability to connect with those students and the coworkers. So I'm excited, too, because I'm kind of on the other side of it with being an educational audiologist. And I'm always helping kids in the classroom hear and understand better. But then the kind of flip it around and be like, oh, so many of these strategies. We can definitely be sharing with teachers too. And it would be like a full circle to help the kids, as well as the teachers who we will be sharing that information with. So I'm excited about that event. One thing I wanted to ask you, and I don't know the answer to, is these events that you are having, are they available after the event or is it just a live event?


Gil: [00:21:25] Yeah. We definitely our goal is to make all of them available after. So sometimes it takes a couple days or a week or so to get them up there. But yes, definitely. Um, that's the goal.


Carrie: [00:21:39] Okay. And so if you're listening to this podcast today and you're interested in the event, either the live event or afterwards, what do they need to do?


Gil: [00:21:51] Yeah. So the best thing to do is to go on the Humelan website. It's w w w dot m e a n a m e l a n.com. And then if you scroll down, you'll see events and just sign up. So even if you can't make the live event, if you're signed up, you will get a link to the recording later. And so either way is is valid. So just go for it.


Carrie: [00:22:15] Okay. And I will definitely link the website to in the show notes so people can easily access that as well. So thinking about Humelan and some of the key initiatives and projects, um, that you're working on, is there anything looking ahead, what are some of your long term goals and aspirations that you have?


Gil: [00:22:40] Oh man, the long term goals and aspirations are really, really big. I mean, I, I want to get to a point where everybody. Um, in, around the world really is following WHOs recommendation and we're screening everyone, you know, according to the recommendation, over the age of 55, she should be screened. I believe it's every year or so. So I want to get to that point. I want to get to the point where, um, primary care physicians are screening us for for that. And not just blood pressure. I think communication and loneliness and everything that comes with having a different hearing level, that's un, you know, you're not aware of is is big and important. So that's one big goal is to be involved in that, to be the go to hearing engagement platform. And so that's the long term you know vision for us. Then on the short term right now we're doing a bunch of events. We have our communities and we'd love to see more people, uh join. So please feel free to join them. And we're going to have a wait list for our, um, AI hearing coach come up on the website very soon. So if you know of anybody who has hearing loss and wants to try that out, um, please do. It would be on the our website shortly.


Carrie: [00:23:56] And can you expand a little bit on what that would might look like for someone that would sign up for a hearing coach?


Gil: [00:24:05] Yeah.  So there's a lot of different hearing coaches, Carrie, like you're what you're doing and your hearing coach practice is a little different than what we're doing. And, um, I'm very excited for that whole field of hearing health and wellness and coaching in general. I think it's really, really needed. And there's so many of us out there doing really great work for Humelan. Our coaches are via text today only, and so really it's a complimentary service to an audiologist who's providing you with everything else. Um, and then what we do is we come in and help people in different stages. It could be someone who has a spouse and you think, maybe my spouse has hearing loss, but I don't know how to talk to them about it. And so you would be using the hearing loss, the Humelan, uh, hearing coach to just ask those questions and to to understand how to speak with them about this. And so we can help with that. So it's really a texting, um, service or a chatbot on our website right now that can help with that, for example. But we also help people who are new to hearing aids get used to them.


Gil: [00:25:11] We also help people who have had hearing aids for a long time but have a life change. For example, they're going into a new job and they just need support around that. Or maybe they have a new grandchild and they need to figure out how do you what do you do now? Um, and we've had a lot of people who have had hearing aids for a while. And what they want to understand is, is it time for cochlear implants? And what does a cochlear implant mean? For me, there's a lot of a lot of different questions. And so I would make one important point. We're not here to replace clinicians. None of the advice we give is a clinical advice. It's really a peer advice. It's really a hearing coach advice which is a very, very, very different. And sometimes it's just helping people understand. Is it the right time to go to an ENT or an audiologist? Um, if they're not sure, maybe they just need a little push to to go.


Carrie: [00:26:07] Yeah, what a great service. And like you said, it just really goes back to your vision. I think of Humelan to really empower that human potential through communication, equity and having the the community and the knowledge and the events to really, I think, fulfill that mission and vision. So Gil as we kind of wrap up today, is there anything that I didn't ask you that you wanted to share?


Gil: [00:26:41] No. I'm just so happy and delighted that you and I connected. Um, I think it's been, like, great talking to you today and, and prior to today. And it's it's really interesting as someone who has been part of the, this community right of hearing care, but not really for me, um, coming into this community, it is one of the best health care communities out there. And it's really fascinating to see how engaged clinicians and advocates, um, in the hearing space are and how collaborative everybody is. So you're, you're, you know, one of those amazing, amazing people in this space. And so just thank you for being you.


Carrie: [00:27:31] Uh, well, thank you. I really appreciate that. And I'm so excited that we got connected as well. And I could just see that we're just going to have more ideas that really spin off of different events and and collaboration. So I'm excited to see what the future holds.


Gil: [00:27:50] Yes.


Carrie: [00:27:52] Well, thank you again for being a guest today and the Empow

Ear Audiology podcast. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing all about you, Humelan, and all of the important, uh, events and knowledge and growth that you are working on, um, with your team. And I'm excited about that. And listeners, if you want to learn more, the website will be in the show notes. So please, um, click on that, explore the website. Uh, join a community and come to an event and find out what is what it is all about. Um, and if you know of anyone that needs to listen to this podcast, please share with anyone that needs to hear it. Thank you for listening.


Announcer: [00:28:39] This has been a production of the 3C Digital Media Network.




Episode 65: empowEAR Audiology - Dr. Jasmine Simmons

Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 65 of empowEAR Audiology with Dr. Carrie Spangler.


Carrie: [00:00:14] Welcome to the empowEAR Audiology podcast, a production of the 3C Digital Media Network. I am your host, Dr. Carrie Spangler, a passionate, deaf and hard of hearing audiologist. Each episode will bring an empowering message surrounding audiology and beyond. Thank you for spending time with me today and let's get started with today's episode. Okay, I have a very special guest with me today, and I'm going to tell you a little bit about Dr. Jasmine Simmons. She is a deaf blind audiologist and an author. She originated from Columbus, Ohio, and she now lives in Jacksonville, Florida. Inspired by her life journey, Dr Jasmine has created a captivating children's book series that sheds light on Usher's syndrome, a condition causing deafness, blindness, and balance balance issues through her unique perspective, Dr Jasmine Story embodies strength and resilience, teaching young readers how to better interact with those who may be different from themselves. Dr. Jasmine's book introduces a diverse cast of characters that takes children on an incredible journey of understanding and empathy. Her characters, both relatable and inspiring, help bridge the gap between children and individuals with diverse abilities, opening doors to to compassion and inclusivity. So, Dr. Jasmine, welcome to the empowEAR Audiology podcast. I'm so excited for you to be a guest today.


Jasmine: [00:02:03] I am so excited to be here today. Thank you so much for having me.


Carrie: [00:02:07] Well, it's so fun to reconnect with you because we have a lot of history together.


Jasmine: [00:02:14] Yeah, we definitely have. Oh my goodness. We met at University of Akron during, uh, my undergrad. Right. That's crazy.


Carrie: [00:02:24] I that was a while ago. And I still remember the day that you came to my door when I was working at the university and introduced yourself. I think you might have been taking a class that you were, um, not excited about taking.


Jasmine: [00:02:46] Yeah. Oh, my goodness. I just I just remember, you know, you being at Akron and just being my mentor, like, it was such a profound time for me. And it was just amazing just having you alongside my journey.


Carrie: [00:03:04] Well. I am so glad that I could be a small part of your journey. And yeah, I'm so excited for everything that you have become. Um, since we met way back in your undergrad, uh, career. Uh, but every time I have someone on the podcast that has gone into audiology, I love to hear their story. And I think our listeners do, too. So do you want to share a little bit about how you decided to have the pathway to audiology?


Jasmine: [00:03:39] Oh, absolutely. So I was born profoundly deaf, and at the age of two, I received my cochlear implant. And throughout my life, I always knew I wanted to be a helper. I knew I wanted to be in the healthcare. And it was when I was in seventh grade, my mom and I were in the car and, you know, you know, little me was thinking like, what should I do with my life? I want to do something, but I just don't know what. And she was like, Jasmine, like, what about audiology? And ever since then, like, oh my gosh. Yeah. Like it just clicked for me. So I just knew that that's what I was destined to do. And I went ahead and achieved that goal.


Carrie: [00:04:26] Yes, he did, and so much more. Do you want to share a little bit about where you're at right now? Working. Uh.


Jasmine: [00:04:36] Yes. So I currently work at Jacksonville Speech and Hearing, a nonprofit clinic, and it's such a great job because, you know, we work with the underserved populations. And if, um, a patient is, um, under the income means and they live in Duval County and Jacksonville, they are eligible to get a free set of hearing aids. So it's just a very rewarding job. And also they can get free speech therapy services, um, through different grants. So it's just very enjoyable to work at the company I am. And just to help people, you know, be able to hear and, um, for them to be able to communicate with their loved ones.


Carrie: [00:05:22] Wow, what a great service to that area. And I'm so glad you're there. Just, um, thinking about, like, before we get into your book and everything, which I really want to talk about, but I know you said like I was a mentor to you, but I know that you have been an incredible mentor to so many people along the way. And I just remember talking to you about being a part of the campUS experience, which, um, Dr Gail Whitelaw and I co coordinate a overnight camp that was at Ohio State University, and we needed counselors who were deaf and hard of hearing. And I remember asking you if you would be willing to volunteer. And I don't even think I told you what you were volunteering for, but you said yes, and then you volunteered your brother.


Jasmine: [00:06:16] Absolutely.


Carrie: [00:06:18] Yes, I sure did. Yeah. You're like, oh, my brother, my brother could be a part of this too. And then, um, but you and Justin were just, like, such an integral part of, like, the startup and of the campUS program and mentoring so many high school students who were thinking about going to college or going to work and had never met anyone else who was deaf or hard of hearing. So I just wanted to thank you for like, your participation in that, because I feel like you were a counselor for at least like 3 or 4 years, maybe even longer.


Jasmine: [00:06:57] Yeah. It was I mean, it was such a wonderful experience. And that was the first like the start of me being a camp counselor. And it was just wonderful being able to see these teenagers bond. And like you said, some of these teens have never met other people with hearing loss. So it's it's only two days. But those two days were such impactful moments for these teens. So I thank you and Dr Whitelaw for even, you know, hosting camps like these because it is so needed. It is so needed. And I know these kids, I, I am Facebook friends with some of them. I see them, you know, in college and, you know, working. I'm just like, oh my gosh. Like I'm just so proud of these kids that go through these programs. And I know they remember these moments because I remember going through camp when I was younger, and I still remember it to this day, and how it has such a empowering or impactful impact on me.


Carrie: [00:08:06] Yeah, definitely. Especially when you're a one and only and a place and you don't have the opportunity to meet someone else, and then you come here and you realize, whoa, like there's other people like me out there in the world. So which is kind of a great segue into your book. So audiologist and author Dr Jasmine Simmons, I'm so excited for you. Because so and I just have to say, I got my book and I am in love with the extraordinary Jordan and her bionic ears. From the character to the illustration to the storyline, everything is phenomenal. So tell me Just for our listeners, can you just share a little like an overview and then we'll dig deeper into into your book.


Jasmine: [00:09:03] Yeah. So, um, I just what really inspired me to write this book. Um, I remember I was an educational audiologist in North Carolina, and I met this family of a little girl who had usher syndrome. And I just remember the mom, just like I signed her up for everything, and I just. I don't know how to explain this to my kid, like, there's nothing really out there. And at that moment, I just knew I was going to write a children's book. I was just knew. I just didn't know when. But I knew it was going to happen. Um, and this past February, I was diagnosed as legally blind. And I was just, you know, sitting there like, what do I want to do? Like what? What will, you know, help me get through this? And that was the time I decided I was going to write the Usher Syndrome series. I just knew it was time. And, you know, as I was writing this book, I actually met a, um, girl. Her name was Jordan, and she was going through some bullying in school and just. You know, dealing with the confidence issue with her hearing loss. And I just knew that that was going to be my character's name. And, you know, just in honor of her. Um, but yeah, it's just it's a really great story, and I can't wait to talk a little bit more about it.


Carrie: [00:10:37] Yeah, I love that. So you had, like, your own personal background, plus your experience as an educational audiologist and then meeting a family who was kind of struggling with how to explain this, and then another person who kind of was having this bullying experience. So kind of a combination of lots of different things. So absolutely. Yeah. Just a step a little bit backwards for a second. Do you want to share a little bit about your hearing history and how like how it's progressed over the years.


Jasmine: [00:11:17] Mhm. So um, I was born deaf. I got my cochlear implant at age of two. At the age of seven, I was diagnosed with a condition called retinitis pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa. And it affects your, um, nighttime vision and it also affects your peripheral vision. So as I got older, my vision has progressed. So that's, uh, at the age of 25, I was officially diagnosed with usher syndrome and through genetic testing. So that's just kind of what prompted me to write the Usher Syndrome series as well, because many people don't know what Usher Syndrome is. So it's definitely was one of my mission to spread the word. What is usher syndrome? So that way, you know, more research can be done, more people can learn about this, and hopefully, you know, they can find a cure one day for sight loss, you know? So that was really my mission to behind this series as well.


Carrie: [00:12:29] Um, and I love how you said earlier too, that this you you knew you always wanted to write this book, but at the same time, you said this was kind of part of your own healing process, too. Can you share a little bit more about that?


Jasmine: [00:12:46] Yeah. So writing this book has been so healing for me. Um, it's just this became my my distraction. This became my baby. Um, you know, so everybody has to find their ways of coping with, you know, a diagnosis. And, you know, writing this children's book was my way of coping and coming to terms with my vision loss. And it actually helped me gain more confidence as I share my story. And it's just, you know, hearing other people going through something similar or could be a few steps behind me or a few steps ahead of me, and it's just so beautiful to be able to communicate with others and just help each other along this journey.


Carrie: [00:13:37] Yeah. It really I love how you talked about those people in front of you and people behind you. That and walking alongside of you that are on this journey and can help with that process too. So extraordinary. Jordan in the book. Um, what is like the main message or theme that you are trying to convey to those who are reading your book?


Jasmine: [00:14:07] You know, as I read this book, I learn there are so many different messages behind this book and I'm like, oh yeah, this is a great for this and this is great for that. Um, but, you know, overall, I wanted kids to show or kids to be confident in who they are. You know, just you are extraordinary. Like that is the overall message. Just be confident and you know, you are going to have some challenges and that is okay. But you will overcome those challenges if you are confident and who you are.



Carrie: [00:14:47] Mhm. Yeah.And I feel like Jordan can represent lots of different areas of confidence. So whether it is, you know, her um bionic ears as you call them when she calls them in the book or it's another area of challenge that like you can still be extraordinary in whatever challenge you have.


Jasmine: [00:15:12] Exactly, exactly.


Carrie: [00:15:16] Um, so as far as, um, the book goes, I you said, you know, the as you keep reading through it, you have found some other like themes and, and ways, um, that people might be able to, to use the book. Do you want to share a little bit more about your the themes in there?


Jasmine: [00:15:40] I mean, it's a great book for social, um, emotional learning. Um, I think it's just it also it's also great book for kids who aren't familiar with, you know, differences, you know, something that's different from them. You know, like Ben in the store doesn't know what this device is. So obviously he's going to act different towards it. But then, you know, he learns more about it. So it's just acceptance and just understanding. And also it's important to I want to relay that kids aren't mean. They just don't understand. And and that's okay. That's when you want to teach those kids that, yes, there may be somebody that looks different from you or have something different from you and just be able to understand and they are unable to understand what is happening.



Carrie: [00:16:42] Yeah and I know that part of part of the book, and I don't want to give it all away because I know people need to read it. Um, but Jordan remembers that, like her dad had said, you know, that you're extraordinary. And she kind of remembers that as part of, you know, kind of getting empowered to stand up for herself and be confident. Is that another message, like for parents, guardians, like teachers, different, you know, mentors and, um, figures in their life to, to teach this?


Jasmine: [00:17:18] Oh, absolutely. It's. Words matter. Kids pick up on positivity and they also pick up on negativity. So just empowering kids is so important because that really affects alters their confidence and helps them be more confident. So definitely like affirmations, you know you are extraordinary. You know you're hearing loss doesn't make you less than like you are extraordinary.



Carrie: [00:17:51] Yeah. So on a personal level, does Jordan reflect you at all?


Jasmine: [00:17:59] Um, there is definitely some personal moments in that story that I personally experienced that I wanted to convey in that story, and that also was healing, just talking about it, you know? So and just I know I'm not alone in this. And so I want kids other to see this and be like, oh, you know, it actually it has happened. That happened to me. Or, you know, I just want them to be confident. Um, that's just really, truly the overall message I really want to convey is be confident in who you are. Because, you know, my parents instilled that in my brother and I, you know, that is why I am the person I am today. Because, you know, my parents have never made us feel ashamed of who we are and just taught us to embrace it. So that's also with the parents, you know, positivity that also conveys through my parents as well.



Carrie: [00:19:03] Yeah. And I know both of your parents and I can see how they would have instilled that in you, um, throughout, throughout your life too. So I love how that shines through in the book, too. So kind of talking about the nuts and bolts of the book, like, were there any challenges that you had, like getting started writing your book or all of that? You said it was a long process, but what were your challenges?


Jasmine: [00:19:35] Oh my goodness. Um, the day I decided to write a book and I had no idea how much work it went into writing the book, you know, just you have to worry about, you know, copywriting, the book and, you know, getting the ISBN numbers and, um, you know, getting beta readers, like, I didn't know you had to do all that. It was just all trial and error, you know, just learning as I go, asking different authors, hey, you know, what should I do? And one was like, yeah, you need beta readers. I was like, oh, I do. Okay. Um, and it's just beta readers really help shape your book. You know, you have all these different visions and, you know, they help like, whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down. Okay, let's talk this through. It doesn't make sense, you know, put it together. So it was just very helpful. And gain editors, developmental editors, there's a lot that goes through writing a children's book, but it was very rewarding.


Carrie: [00:20:46] But it was. And your illustrator too, was amazing. How did you find her?


Jasmine: [00:20:55] Oh my goodness, I, I truly lucked out with my illustrator. Um, I went on the platform called Upwork and oh my goodness, she was the very first person that actually reached out to me. And I was like, okay. And I did a little bit more research. And then I just saw that, um, what really drew me in was she had a just a person who had, um, an amputated leg. And I just like, wow, okay. So I'm like, you know what? Let me check her out. And she exceeded beyond my expectations. She just I love her, and she did an amazing job.


Carrie: [00:21:42] So did you ever meet her in person or. This was all, like, visual, like videos or virtually.


Jasmine: [00:21:49] Um, I have not met her in person. She lives in California, so I hope to meet her in person one day. And I hope we can work together on other projects as well.



Carrie: [00:22:04] Yeah. And you kind of mentioned, um, when when I read your bio too, that this is the Usher Syndrome series. So what did that mean for Jordan?


Jasmine: [00:22:17] So actually, Jordan is I actually want to do different people for my books. However, Jordan will appear in my final series. Um, so I my vision is to as I meet people, I want to name my characters after people I have met. Um, and so that way those kids can see them in the book and feel inspired.


Carrie: [00:22:49] Ah, I love that. So what is, um, the real Jordan that this book is named after? Has she, um, given you any feedback about the book?


Jasmine: [00:23:02] Yeah, she absolutely loved it. And I remember the day I told her that I was naming my character after her. She, her mom was was telling me that she was so excited that she went and told everybody at her school saying, you know, I have a character named after me. And it was just heartwarming just to see how her face lit up when she found out that her her name was being used.



Carrie: [00:23:32] Uh huh. Well, that sounds like you need to be doing a book launch at that school.


Jasmine: [00:23:38] I'm working on it. I'm working on it.



Carrie: [00:23:42] Yeah. And so at the time of this recording right now, um, for our listeners, I mean, your book is just gone out, like, you've kind of released it, like people are receiving it. What kind of feedback? What kind of feedback have you received so far?


Jasmine: [00:24:00] Um, people have mentioned how much they loved the illustrations. The illustrations are phenomenal and they love the message behind the story. Um, uh, they also just love just the characters and the how, the ending, the how it ties it in at the end. I can't give it away, but they just love the ending. Um, and lastly, they love the, um, five ways to be More Inclusive. Um, so yeah, great. Great feedback so far.



Carrie: [00:24:39] Yeah. As an educational audiologist, I just got this book this week, but I can see how this would be an extraordinary teaching tool, um, to do with, you know, to read with students and just reread and, and go back and really dig deeper and ask questions with them, like, how has this ever happened to you? Or can you relate to Jordan anyway? So this has so much application for, um, teaching and empowering students with any kind of differences, but specifically our deaf and hard of hearing children.


Jasmine: [00:25:18] Absolutely. I, I really want to write this book to target kids with hearing loss. However, I also wanted to target just kids in general, so that way they can learn about hearing aids and cochlear implants because, you know, some kids don't. They don't know what it is. So I just want them to understand that not everybody is going to look like them. So it's it's yeah.



Carrie: [00:25:47] Yeah. And so you you touched on it, but you talked about five ways to teach about inclusivity. How did that come up as far as like a great way to kind of finish off your book?


Jasmine: [00:26:03] Yeah. So originally I wanted to end off with, you know, affirmations. You know, I just wanted to figure out ways to help empower children. And but I feel like it was very popular. Everybody was doing affirmations. So I wanted to do something a little bit different and leave it off as a teachable moment for not only the kids, the adults to like, oh, how to be more inclusive. Um, so that's just the idea I came up with. I was like, oh, why not figure out a way to teach them how to be more inclusive? And that's how I came up with it.


Carrie: [00:26:45] I love it because it really does kind of, um, make you think a little bit deeper about the book, I think, too, and then apply it.



Jasmine: [00:26:58] Yeah, I definitely wanted to, um, you know, just adults to teach kids. Okay? Like, if you have to be kind, um, you know, just actions, like at your actions matter. Like, you know, showing that adults, kids are watching. So if you implement it, they are going likely model what you're doing. And, you know, reading my book helps, you know, teach kids to be more inclusive. So I just I just thought that was a very important message.



Carrie: [00:27:33] Yeah. And that is a great way to, um, like, kind of wrap up everything in the book with a nice bow at the end. Right. Uh, is there anything that I forgot to ask you that you were hoping I would ask about? Whether it was you personally, or the book or your process.


Jasmine: [00:28:02] Um, you can if you always. If you have any questions, you can always reach out to me. Um, you know, I'm an open book. I always like to share about my experiences as a deafblind individual. Um, and you can always reach out to me on my Instagram at Dr Jasmine Simmons. Uh, it' DR and then my full name or also Dr Jasmine Simmons. Com on my website. And I'm always available to us answer some questions.



Carrie: [00:28:37] And what I can do is I can definitely, um, put that information in the show notes so that people can click on it and go directly to your social media and your website and, um, order your book as well and get that shipped directly to them.



Jasmine: [00:28:57] Absolutely. And I really, truly hope you guys enjoy this story. And this was my baby is is my baby. And I just hope you guys enjoy as much as I did.




Carrie: [00:29:11] Yeah, well I know just reading this book, um, and getting it. I cannot wait to share this book with the students that I get to serve, um, throughout my work. And I'm already thinking about the ones that I really want to share it with. So I'm going to be ordering some more copies, um, in the very near future. And, um, with that, I also want to just say thank you, Jasmine, for everything that you do and everything that you are. I'm just so grateful to know you, um, for such a long time. And you just hold a special place in my heart. So thank you for being part of the EmpowEAR Audiology podcast.


Jasmine: [00:29:55] And I just want to say thank you as well. And you've been instrumental. So thank you for having me. And it's it's an honor.


Carrie: [00:30:06] All right so listeners, make sure that you hop on to Dr Jasmine Simmon's website, her social media, and be sure to reserve your book of extraordinary Jordan and her bionic ears. And if you love this podcast, please be sure to share with anyone who would also enjoy listening. Thank you.


Announcer: [00:30:33] Thank you for listening. This has been a production of the 3C Digital Media Network.




Episode 64: empowEAR Audiology - Dr. Andrea Warner-Czyz

Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 64 of empowEAR Audiology with Dr. Carrie Spangler.


Carrie: [00:00:15] Welcome to the empowEAR Audiology podcast, a production of the 3C Digital Media Network. I am your host, Dr. Carrie Spangler, a passionate, deaf and hard of hearing audiologist. Each episode will bring an empowering message surrounding audiology and beyond. Thank you for spending time with me today and let's get started with today's episode. Okay, today I have with me a friend and colleague, Dr. Andrea Warner-Czyz, and she is an associate professor in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas in Dallas. Her research investigates communication and quality of life in children and adolescents who are deaf and hard of hearing, and use cochlear implants. Her primary, um professional goal centers on a whole person approach drawing and speech language, pathology, psychology, and audiology to develop data driven recommendations to improve social well-being in patients who are deaf and hard of hearing. So, Andrea, welcome to the podcast.


Andrea: [00:01:29] Thanks so much for having me.


Carrie: [00:01:31] I'm excited. I know we've been trying to coordinate our schedules for this podcast for, I don't know, some time now.


Andrea: [00:01:39] It's been a while. Yes, but I'm excited to be here.


Carrie: [00:01:42] I'm excited to have you. And I was kind of trying to figure out when we met. I felt like it was at an ASHA convention initially.


Andrea: [00:01:51] That sounds about right. Yeah, that was a long time ago, too. I think we met through a friend of a friend, but I can't remember who the intermediary was. But thank you to whoever it was they.


Carrie: [00:02:02] Were, they were great, whoever it was. So, um, but I am so glad to have you today. And one of the things that I usually ask my podcast guests who have gotten into the field of, um, hearing sciences or audiology, do you have a backstory of choosing audiology?


Andrea: [00:02:23] I wish I had something like there was someone who was super inspirational when I was a kid, and it really wasn't that. When I was in undergrad, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. I thought I wanted to do journalism, and then that wasn't for me. And I went and talked to my advisor and and she asked me what I wanted, and I said I wanted to work with something that would let me work with people that I could do psychology and something science wise. And she told me to take this intro class to speech and hearing, and that was it. I was completely hooked after that. It was that one little introductory class at University of Illinois, and I. It just made sense. It was one of those things that just clicked. And, um, and then when I started my master's program in audiology, which I didn't know if I wanted to do audiology or speech, to be honest, which probably makes sense why I do what I do, because it's not all hearing, like all audiology, and it's not really speech and language, and it kind of has psychology mixed in. And that's just the intersection that makes me happiest. I think that's where you really get to see where things come to fruition in the real world.


Carrie: [00:03:30] Yeah, yeah. No, that is great. That one person, an adviser, just said, take this class and it changed the whole trajectory for your profession. So that is awesome. And, um, yeah. So one of you kind of going into that, that research around that quality of life and your passion for that research to, uh, as it relates to cochlear implants and quality of life, you also run a lab at the university called the CHILL Lab. Can you share a little bit more about that?


Andrea: [00:04:07] Absolutely. So, um, it's called the Children and Infant Listening Lab. And so when we started it, it was all about the infants and we were studying babies. And that was really fun. Um, I loved the babies. But then I realized as my kids were getting older, the age of my participants also got a little bit older. Um, and then I got to adolescence, and it was absolute heaven, which I know nobody says that because who likes adolescence, but I actually really, really do. Um, but what we have done, we've looked at speech perception and music perception. We've looked at speech and language outcomes, and then quality of life has really been the stalwart for like the last 15 years. And really, like I said before, that's where I feel like everything kind of comes together. Um, and part of it came from what I was hearing from the parents, where the parents were telling me their children were having this issue, or they're having trouble making friends, or they didn't feel like they yeah, they just didn't feel like they were fitting in or how they were communicating. And I think all of that from getting the information from the parents and then just talking to the kids themselves, that really has changed what I look at, just really listening to them, I think that's the most important part, is learning from them what what they want or what they're experiencing helps change what I do as well.


Carrie: [00:05:27] Yeah. And I know today for the podcast, we really wanted to take a deeper dive into the role of social skills and emotion regulation and relation to children and adolescents who are deaf and hard of hearing. So how do deaf and hard of hearing children or adolescents, their social skills compare to their counterparts who have typical hearing?


Andrea: [00:05:51] Yeah, so it's been really interesting. There's not a ton of work on that. Um, in looking at their social skills, I think part of it really stems from language. And do they have the language skills to be able to communicate with their peers? And I think one of the most striking, um, pieces that I got was actually from a parent who said that their child was communicating that their best friends were always 1 to 2 years younger than they were. And so then it made me think, is that a language issue? Is it a social skills issue? Um, so a lot of the research has been trying to really disentangle what's going on with them. What we know about social skills is that the they have more difficulty making and maintaining friends. They tend to report more peer problems, like they're getting picked on more, or they're just more socially isolated or lonely. And that's kind of been what's what's been reported for the last 40 plus years. And that didn't matter if they were using hearing aids, if they were signing, what kind of residential school they were in, you know, was it general education or residential? It didn't really matter. Those were the types of things that kept coming out. So that's still the case. Even with as good as our technology is and early identification of hearing loss, we're still seeing some issues that kind of need to be teased apart, in my opinion. Yeah.


Carrie: [00:07:16] And it's interesting because like what you just said, we have early intervention and newborn hearing screening and technology, and a lot of these kids are probably graduating from like a more clinic program for their maybe speech and language skills. However, how does that translate into the real world then? Do you have anything to say about that?


Andrea: [00:07:41] I, I do, I think we prepare them really well to respond to us when we're when we're in the Audiologic booth and they're, you know, responding to questions. And it's really kind of a contrived situation. So even if they have noise, it's a really controlled and they know what to expect. They know exactly what's coming. And in speech and language testing, they can do really well on those tests, but they get all the time in the world, they can have as much time as they want, and that's not what real conversation is like. So even if they do really well in the clinic, I don't think those skills are always 100% transferring over, especially when they're communicating with people their own age versus adults who are going to fill in those gaps for them. So I don't want anyone to think that I'm saying they're doing horribly, and I don't mean that at all, but there is a little bit of a disconnect between or there can be a disconnect between how they're performing in clinic and how they're performing with their peers in day to day. Interactions.


Carrie: [00:08:44] Yeah. And does their level of auditory status impact that at all? I know you said, um, you know, as far as, like peer victimization and things like that, it really, you know, was kind of the same. But is there any evidence with that?


Andrea: [00:09:05] Do you mean like if they're deaf and signing versus using hearing aids or cochlear versus cochlear implants? Is that.


Carrie: [00:09:11] Yeah, that or like unilateral or mild versus more severe to profound.


Andrea: [00:09:17] So that's a really good question. Most of the kids in my studies are ones who are have severe to profound hearing loss, who use cochlear implants. So in our peer victimization study, we also had children who used hearing aids. So there was a broader degree of hearing, um, access for that particular study. But most of what I do is is working with children who have and adolescents with cochlear implants. Um, so is there a difference in in our study for peer victimization? There wasn't a difference. If they used hearing aids versus cochlear implants, there didn't seem to be a big difference between them. Um. I can't answer that question. I'm not trying to avoid it. I just can't answer it.


Carrie: [00:10:01] Maybe there isn't an answer for that. Um, right now, I was just curious if there there happened to be anything, you know, related to that challenge or whatever. Um, well, you know, we kind of shared about, like, the difference between clinic and then going into the real world setting. Um, and you mentioned how, um, communication is really different outside of the audiology booth. So what are some of those common challenges that you've heard from parents or from students, um, facing, you know, the real world situation for those social interactions?


Andrea: [00:10:40] So I think one of the big ones is with when we as adults are working with these children, if they're struggling, if they're if they need a moment to process that information, we are willing to be patient and wait for that. And that's not necessarily what you're going to get. So I think the timing is a big part of that, that temporal, um, access to the information and response time. So if they're taking a little bit of time to process what they've heard, especially in a noisy environment, that's going to throw off the timing of the conversation. So I think it's partly that, um, I think communication breakdowns for them to recognize the problem there, a breakdown has occurred and to know what to do about it and to do something about it. That's a three part task that they don't always do. Sometimes they just don't feel comfortable. They're worried about what other people are going to think about them, and so they're more willing just to let it slide and not get the information they need to participate in the conversation. Um, I think the other thing is opportunities for them to have to practice those skills.


Andrea: [00:11:46] So there was a a kid, he was in ninth grade, and I just remember him telling me point blank that the first five years of his life he spent going to therapy and and getting his device, he had cochlear implants and working with his audiologist and his speech language pathologist and this therapist and that therapist. And he spent all the time doing that, and he didn't spend the time in playgroups and learning how to play with others his own age and, and how to navigate the social situations with his peers. And for me, that was, you know, coming from a ninth grade boy who would have thought I'd ever say I really learned from from this ninth grade boy, but I really did, because it was such a huge aspect that we spend so much time with them in, in clinic and in therapy that they need to be kids also, and, and making sure that they're really fostering that aspect as well. I think it's important to emphasize that to parents, too. Um.


Carrie: [00:12:44] Yeah, that's a really good thing to learn from a ninth grader. I mean, that's huge to learn that. What are some. So, you know, you talk about the clinic and going to the real world, but what are some techniques or strategies that parents or educators or, you know, maybe related service providers that are working with these students in the more inclusive school environments? What could they be doing to maybe help build this in a different way?


Andrea: [00:13:20] So I think one of them is to make sure that there are those social activities with other kids their own age. And there was a mom years ago, and she said she felt like she had to be the concierge, so she would be the one that would arrange for the play dates or the Or when they got older, to go to the amusement park or go to the mall or whatever it was, because then, number one, she always knew that her kids were going to be included. And number two, she could also, um, make sure that, you know, those things were happening and that she could kind of be around in case they needed some help with those interactions. So I think making sure that they're involved in those activities, if they can be involved in some type of group, seems to be another one. Um, so that could be a sports team. It could be, um, band if they like music, you know, there are different ways that you can do that. It could be in any other type of group. Um, the other so those are things that parents can do, what clinicians can do. I know that there are certain groups, um, certain cochlear implant teams or teams for children who are deaf and hard of hearing, and they have social groups for their kids. And so they let them all get together. And that way they get to be with other children who are deaf and hard of hearing. They get to do something together, and they get to see that they're not the only ones also, but it gives them a kind of a place away from clinic that they get to practice those social skills.


Carrie: [00:14:47] Yeah, and it's such an important part of the whole person picture when they realize that they're not the only one and that they can kind of develop some positive self esteem in that way, too.


Andrea: [00:15:01] I think that's also oh, sorry, something that you see with the a lot of the kids in general education is a lot of times they don't have other peers who are deaf and hard of hearing in their class. And so having that reminder that that they aren't the only one that you can get that through those local groups. There's also lots of camps. And I know you, you have a camp, um, where you are, and I've been working in camps in Dallas and in Colorado as well. And I think that's another place not just for the kids, but also for the families to get more information on. And, and just, I don't know, learn, learn from each other. I think they learn from each other sometimes better than they learn from us, to be honest.


Carrie: [00:15:43] Yeah, well, I think that's true. No matter, um, whether they are deaf or hard of hearing or typical, um, they're going to learn from, from their peers more than they're going to learn from adults. But, you know, you're saying that and I love that you are so involved at your place as well with that social groups and connecting teens and kids together, because I that was a huge part of what I was missing, like growing up as someone that had hearing aids and going to a general or, you know, my neighborhood school, never knowing anyone else. Um, and it really impacted me, um, socially and emotionally through especially those transitional years of going, you know, trying to figure out who I am as a teenager and then thinking I'm the only one in the entire world that has to wear hearing aids and really kind of propelled me into making sure that the kids that I get to work with are connected in some way. And I feel like even if they're connected once with someone just realizing that they're not the only one one time, it could make a huge impact.


Andrea: [00:16:59] It can. And I think also with those camps, they forge those relationships. There are some kids that have gone to the Dallas camp since they were itty bitty like toddlers, and now they're in their 20s and they are still as I there are some of them and they're just still a super close knit group, you know, almost 20 years later, which is pretty amazing that they have just developed that so early. And I think it's it's that bond of having that commonality. Is that why you did that camp? Is that why you guys started the camp up there?


Carrie: [00:17:32] Yeah, I started a program more like a local program. That was a day kind of a thing or a half a day that we would meet a couple times a year, and we would bring middle school and high school kids together and do just self-advocacy, development. So our group was called Alps Now, advocacy, leadership and peer support for deaf and hard of hearing. And it's like, um, I want to say it's where the magic happens. I mean, you cannot. Replicate what happens in this group any other way, but by bringing them together and you come up with a couple of activities, but you give them the space to be who they are and connect with the others. And like you said, they make these lifelong connections. And with social media and different, you know, things like that, they stay connected. Yeah.


Andrea: [00:18:33] I agree that it is magical. I know we're not supposed to say that because in a way we're setting it up to be that way, but it just is.


Carrie: [00:18:41] It is? Yeah. And I have kids who were, um, you know, dragging their feet. They didn't want to go. And I'm like, just come one time. If you don't like it, you never have to come back. And I would say 95% of them have come back.


Andrea: [00:18:59] Yep.


Carrie: [00:19:00] So the hardest part is getting them there.


Andrea: [00:19:04] I agree I agree.


Carrie: [00:19:07] Yeah. So we talked a lot about like the adolescent phase too. But how important is it to address this early like early intervention and preschool for social skills.


Andrea: [00:19:24] So I think that's what we're looking at right now, because a lot of the research that I've done is really focused on the adolescence. Um, just because they will tell you anything you want to know or things that you don't want to know. Um, which again, is why I like them so much. And I think some of the things that we see. Are things that could be addressed really early. I think a lot of times what we do is as audiologists, we want to make sure they're getting the best signal and speech language pathologists that they have nice, clear articulation and that their language is on par. And that's great. But then that social piece doesn't always fit into the, you know, as far as those high priorities. And I think those early play groups, I think there are things that we can work on in clinic to make sure that they know how to self-advocate early on. I mean, they can tell you when their device is working versus when it's not, or if they're having trouble. I think those are things you can work on really early and teaching them to know how to interact with other people. I think Theory of Mind and some of the not not just being able to identify their own emotions, but to identify emotions in other people. And that's that's a skill that as parents, we need to talk about, too. As you know, when you're reading books or if you get mad about something to explain it and, and explain to them how you're thinking, I mean, you don't have to say I, I'm feeling mad right now, but, you know, but but I'm feeling upset and this is why. And, you know, then they can see this is how someone shows it, either in a movie or a book. Like, I think there are lots of ways that we can address it really early. Um, and there's lots of books on emotional intelligence. I think that's one of my favorite things right now to even in preschool books.


Andrea: [00:21:11] My, um, I mean, I, I vividly remember there's a book called my, My Many Colored Days by Doctor Seuss, which I didn't remember until my kids were little and someone gave them the book. And when you first read it, you think it's all about colors, but it's actually all about emotions, and it attaches the emotions to the different colors. My son read the cover off that book, and I think those are things that I mean, then that was a board book. So those are things really early to have those conversations and if they can recognize it, I think sometimes the children who are deaf and hard of hearing need to be explicitly taught some of those things, and I think those are really good avenues to do it is you can take those little opportunities. It doesn't take a lot of time, but it has a huge impact on how they interact with others, whether they're their own age or whether it's an adult. That was a really long answer. Sorry.


Carrie: [00:22:01] No, that's great, but I know that, um, you know, to add on to that, you have been doing some research kind of in that area, um, with what is it like, more like visual recognition. Recognition and emotions. Do you want to share a little bit about that?


Andrea: [00:22:20] Sure. So what's really interesting when you look at visual emotion recognition. So we show them different faces. And and there was no difference between the groups for visual emotion recognition at all. It like for accuracy or reaction time, they looked exactly the same whether, you know, for static photos. But then when we use dynamic videos and they looked at the image and they had either part of the image or all of the image, there was a difference between the groups. And what I mean by that is that the group with typical hearing, these are all adolescents. The group with typical hearing was faster and had higher accuracy when they had 80% of the video. So they didn't have all the video. They could make the decision and be accurate faster than the group with cochlear implants. So even with visual emotion recognition, they just need a tiny bit longer for the cochlear implant group to be able to get the right emotion identified. Um, for auditory emotion recognition, it's all over the place. But we included, um, kids with typical hearing, with hearing aids, and with cochlear implants. So, um, and we didn't have we need to collect a little bit more data on there. So there's a lot of variability in the deaf and hard of hearing group. But overall they aren't as good as emotion recognition at emotion recognition compared to their peers with typical hearing. And I think Monita Chatterjee has been showing the same exact thing that, um, it's just hard, especially with a cochlear implant, to pick up some of those emotion cues auditorily. And that's when everything's straightforward. But what happens when you have sarcasm and you have a mismatch between what's going on visually and auditorily? And I don't think we've actually nailed that down for how well they do as good at recognizing things like that. When there is a mismatch, I think that's the next thing we need to look at.


Carrie: [00:24:23] Yeah, which kind of makes sense when you think about, um, cochlear implants aren't as good as giving a lot of low frequency information. And when you think about emotions and inflection of people's voices, right, that it would be harder to recognize that, especially if it's a nuance and somebody's being sarcastic and their face doesn't match what they're meaning to say. Right?


Andrea: [00:24:51] Right. And some I mean, there are some people with typical hearing who aren't savvy at that either. They miss it all the time. So you have to pay attention to that too. But I think that's really important for kids who are in middle school and high school because sarcasm and making jokes, I mean, that's that's the bread and butter for that age group, right? I mean, whether they're talking to their parents or to their friends, there's always jokes or sarcasm going on. And so it's really important for them to know how to navigate that as well.


Carrie: [00:25:23] Yeah. Which kind of is a great segue into um, I know you've done some work and some, uh, research in the area of like, bullying and that kind of, uh, you know, written about it. Is there a higher incidence of, um, bullying or peer victimization in this population when compared to, um, typical hearing or other populations?


Andrea: [00:25:54] There. There is. So in the general population, it's about a third will report that they've been picked on at least once. Um, when we look at special populations. So any kids with Exceptionalities, regardless of what that exceptionality is, it's somewhere between about 47 and 70%, depending on the group that's included. Um, and so we ask the same exact questions of children who are deaf and hard of hearing, who used hearing aids or cochlear implants and half of them. So 50% of them said that they had been picked on at least once. So that's compared to it was 28% in the typical hearing population. And the way that they get picked on the most is they they're excluded. They're socially excluded. I should say they feel socially excluded. Now, it doesn't really matter if they were or not, but it's their perception because it's the same sense for them. Right? Um, so yeah. So, uh, it was 20 I think it was five, five times the rate of feeling socially excluded in the group with cochlear implants and hearing aids compared to typical hearing. So 25 versus 5% or something like that. It was crazy. It was it was I was unbelievable how high that was.


Carrie: [00:27:13] Yeah. Which is really important for providers for parents to to recognize that. So how would we as professionals really, um, capture that or make sure that, you know, you have an adolescent coming in and you're doing their annual checkup and then you oh, everything looks great and you have them leave or what else? What else should we be doing?


Andrea: [00:27:44] Well, I'm nosy, so I'm always going to ask about, you know, do you have friends? Do you, do you get along with people? Do you have a boyfriend? Girlfriend? You know, but that's kind of just my personality. I don't think we have to do it from a nosy standpoint. Um, but I think those are questions you can ask. Um, you know, how how are things going at school? Do you have friends? I think those are really valid questions to ask. And if they say they don't have friends, then that's when you can maybe probe a little bit more like, oh, like, you know, are you getting picked on? Is everything okay? I think there's an easy way to do that. And actually, there was a group you were involved with, right? With Carol Flexer and Jane Madell years ago. Um, I remember I think it was Kris English.




Carrie: [00:28:30] Kris English. That's right. Yeah, yeah. And we looked at like and actually had like a bullying questionnaire that you could use in the clinic just to ask some of those questions. And if, like you said, if they said, you know, no, I don't really have any friends. And here's a follow up question, how can you kind of expand and get more information too.


Andrea: [00:28:52] Yes. And I think it's also really important to know, um, that one of the things that came up in our research, we would have the kids complete the surveys on an iPad and sometimes the parents would be around. And some I mean, of course we got consent. Don't worry. Sometimes the parents would, you know, look over their kid's shoulder to see what's happening. And one I remember there was this one parent who came and said, she said that she has lots of friends and that's not true. She only has 1 to 2 friends and the others are acquaintances. And I think that's something else that we need to kind of pull apart. Is are these true friends? Do they have true friends or are they just acquaintances? And do they have someone to kind of share their inner thoughts with, to share time with, to do things after school? And I think sometimes you can dig a little bit more into that, but I think it's more than just do you have friends? I think kind of digging into are these is it a true friendship or not? Is it and is it bi directional? Right.


Andrea: [00:29:51] Do you want to be with each other or not?


Carrie: [00:29:54] Yeah, exactly. Well, and I think that's a bigger like conversation in the general like population for this, this next generation, because they're so involved with their phone and texting and Snapchat. So yeah, you have how many people following you or snapping you. But you could say I have 400 friends, but you haven't talked to anybody in real life.


Andrea: [00:30:22] Oh I yes, yes. I mean it's the same thing for us old people on Facebook, right? Um, I'm friends with lots of people on Facebook, but I'm not really friends with them. I mean, I am, but some of them are really acquaintances at this point. I'm friends with a lot of them. Don't be offended if we're friends on Facebook.


Carrie: [00:30:42] You're going to get all these un friends in a minute.


Andrea: [00:30:44] I know, please don't unfriend me.


Carrie: [00:30:48] Oh, but I think, you know, I when you ask that question in a clinic, it makes.


Andrea: [00:30:57] Yeah. But I but I think those are questions that we can ask. And it doesn't have to be like it's a prying. I mean, these are kids. These are adolescents that you're spending a lot of time with. You know them sometimes they know you and they're more willing to confide in you than maybe there are their parents, because sometimes the parents can become kind of helicoptering and they're so concerned and they, um, push their concerns onto what they're they think their child is thinking, too, right? They, um, what is that called? Do you know? Oh, there. Anyways, so they think that their kids have the same exact concerns that they do, and that's not necessarily the case. So sometimes I think the kids will hold in and not tell the parents if something's going on, but they're more willing to tell you, kind of as a trusted outside adult who is safe to tell things to.


Carrie: [00:31:47] Yeah. And sometimes they might not want the parents to worry or go into the school and maybe make it a bigger deal. I mean, there's probably a lot of that that might be going on as well.



Andrea: [00:32:04] Exactly, projecting. That's a word I wanted.



Carrie: [00:32:07] Yes, projecting. Thank you. I was thinking like executive functioning, but that wasn't it either. Oh, so it's been a long week, right? So we're getting through. Um, but just I guess, you know, we've talked a lot about, like, social skills and and bullying and you know starting early, but are there any other specific strategies or supports that you can kind of think about that we may want to be? Teaching our students or clients.


Andrea: [00:32:47] Um. I do think making sure that they're they're involved in something. Um, when you're on a team and this is kind of across the board, whether it has nothing to do with hearing loss. But basically, if you're on a team or you have, um, some type of group, intramural group, whether it's with the school or outside the school, that kind of gives them a little family where those kids are going to have their back and they have each other's back. And that's something that's been shown in the friendship literature. Um, for kids, with typical hearing in the general population. And I think the same is true for these kids. Um, I do think that's, you know, I expect it to be better in the future, kind of as we go forward, as we have earlier identification, we have earlier fitting of devices and better communication and a lot of these, these kids. So I think kind of the next generation, I would expect that to be better. I think the other thing is this generation, um, is more accepting and more inclusive than I think some past generations. And I think that's something that's going to bode well for these kids, that those things that were viewed as huge differences, you know, when you and I were growing up aren't necessarily as big of a deal. And I think, you know, making them aware. You talked about self-advocacy before, um, having them where they're not necessarily hiding their devices and they're proud of them and they can talk about them. I think that openness really opens up a lot of avenues for them as well.


Carrie: [00:34:25] Yeah. And like you said, that can start in preschool with just like reporting whether or not their devices are on or not working and then building those, you know, developmental self-advocacy skills, which is going to help with their self-perception and identity of who they are and hopefully help with the lesser peer victimization, because they're going to be very confident.


Andrea: [00:34:52] Exactly, and knowing how to describe their hearing loss or their hearing aid or cochlear implant and how it works. You know, these are like glasses for my ears. I think there are things that we can give them the language for, to help them kind of figure out how they want to handle that as well. But it's going to differ. Just like everyone, you know, adults are different. All kids are different too. And so trying to match that strategy with who the child actually is from a temperament standpoint is important to do as well.


Carrie: [00:35:23] Yeah, but what a great skill to develop and be able to role play. Or just like you said, give them some of that language that they would be able to build within themselves and then personalize it as they grow.


Andrea: [00:35:37] Right, absolutely.


Carrie: [00:35:40] So is there anything that I didn't ask you that you were wanting me to ask you.


Andrea: [00:35:50] Oh, I feel I like how this conversation went. It was a little organic and how it evolved, but I feel like this was covering exactly what we had talked about before is just giving a little bit of a shout out to looking at things beyond just speech, language and hearing and how they actually implement those skills in the real world. Um, I think that's just important for us to think about.


Carrie: [00:36:14] Yeah. And I just applaud your work and your passion in this area because it really is the end result, right? We as human beings, we want to be able to interact and have meaningful relationships with other people. And if we're not addressing this, um, and helping support this, then it's going to the outcome isn't going to be the same. So to be able to just, I don't know, have a way to really strategically look at it and then, um, implement it into the clinic setting into the school setting is really important for us. I children who are deaf and hard of hearing because they need that extra support in social and communication a lot of times.


Andrea: [00:37:05] They do, they do. And I think we're the right people to help. But I think it's also important to get the parents involved and sometimes the siblings too. The siblings know a lot more than we give them credit for so yeah.


Andrea: [00:37:17] They're a big key to this as well.


Carrie: [00:37:20] They are. And just to kind of wrap up, are there any like specific resources that you would recommend or networks that you would recommend? I know you talked a little bit about your camp and things like that, but anything that you can think of that people might want to look into.


Andrea: [00:37:41] Sure. So there are camps all over the United States? I'm sure there are around the world too. I just haven't looked into the global global camps. But I think looking into camps is one thing. Looking into local resources for support groups. The Dallas Hearing Foundation, for example, has a teen squad that they get together. And I know you you mentioned that that you have one up in Columbus as well. Um, I think there's also some websites that are really helpful. The supporting success for kids with hearing loss is and I know I'm sure you've talked about that a million times. Um, and there are websites like that I think just provide great resources for the families so they can kind of get what they need and connect with others. There's also lots of groups on Facebook for the parents, and sometimes there's also ones on Reddit. I haven't looked at those in detail, but I think there's good information there as well. But, um, I think pretty much anything online, lots of social media platforms will have different resources for the families.


Carrie: [00:38:48] Yeah, well, Andrea, I thought this was an incredible conversation and a very important conversation to have, um, on the Empower Audiology podcast. And I just want you to I want to thank you for being an incredible guest today. And it was an amazing conversation.


Andrea: [00:39:06] Thank you. It was fun connecting with you, too.


Carrie: [00:39:09] All right. Thank you, listeners, for listening to the Empower Audiology podcast. If you like this, please give a five star review and share it with, um, those who may also benefit from this conversation today. Thank you.


Announcer: [00:39:25] Thank you for listening. This has been a production of the 3C Digital Media Network.




Episode 63: empowEAR Audiology - Dr. Kari Morgenstein

Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 63 of empowEAR Audiology with Dr. Carrie Spangler.


Carrie: [00:00:14] Welcome to the empowEAR Audiology podcast, a production of the 3C Digital Media Network. I am your host, Dr. Carrie Spangler, a passionate, deaf and hard of hearing audiologist. Each episode will bring an empowering message surrounding audiology and beyond. Thank you for spending time with me today and let's get started with today's episode. The airing of this episode also marks the beginning of 2024. Happy New Year, everyone! This episode that you will be listening to was recorded a little while back with Dr. Kari Morgenstein. This episode actually motivated me to sign up for her energy leadership, assessment and personal coaching session. Wow, what an insightful investment to dive deeper into ensuring that I am the cause rather than the effect of my life. These sessions with Dr. Morgenstein also propelled me into exploring becoming a certified coach. As you listen to this episode today, take inventory of you. A certified coach can help you redefine your career goal or personal goal, overcome obstacles, help you clarify and make difficult decisions, increase leadership and energy, and become confident as well as develop deep self knowledge and awareness. Tune in today with Dr. Kari Morgenstein and stay tuned for future empowEAR Audiology episodes as I will be sharing my coaching journey as well. Okay, before we dive into today's episode, I wanted to take a moment to give everyone a background about my guest that I have today, Dr. Kari Morgenstein.


Carrie: [00:02:08] Dr. Kari Morgenstein is an experienced, genuine, and goal oriented certified coach and speaker. She received her coaching certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, or iPEC, and is a master practitioner of the Energy Leadership Index Assessment. Dr. Morgenstein is the co-owner of DB coaching Group with over 15 years of experience teaching, mentoring, presenting and coaching and her coaching group, she helps early career to mid-career health care professionals find their voice so that they can lead with confidence, courage and she began her career at the University of Miami Department of Otolaryngology as the founding director of the University of Miami Children's Hearing Program. Under her leadership, she designed, developed, and led a multidisciplinary team of healthcare hearing healthcare professionals. In this role, she managed a multi-million dollar budget while gaining international recognition. Dr. Morgenstein was the youngest individual to have served as the president of the Florida Academy of Audiology, and sit on the American Academy of Audiology Board of Directors. She is a proud member of Women in Academic Medicine, and was chosen in 2019 to attend the AAMC Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar. Dr. Morgenstein has a passion for supporting women in medicine and challenging the status quo. I am so excited to have you today. Thank you for joining me.


Kari: [00:03:52] Oh, I'm so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.


Carrie: [00:03:56] Well, I love your passion statement, supporting women in medicine and challenging the status quo. And that's another reason I'm excited that you're going to be on the EmpowEAR Audiology podcast. And I'm sure all of the guests listening today will really enjoy everything that you have to say. But as I read in your bio, one of the things that you started out as a career in audiology and I just love to hear how people somehow get started in that direction. Do you have a story behind that?


Kari: [00:04:32] Yeah, I do have, um, I do have a little bit of a story. So, you know, just like many people, I was trying to figure it out in undergrad. And, um, at the time, I really knew that I wanted to help people. Um, from a very young age, I knew that I wanted to be in a profession that helped, um, others, whether that was children or adults. And, um, you know, so through that one thing kind of led me to another. And I was at home in Chicago and was able to do, uh, shadow a pediatric audiologist. Um, her name is actually Beth Dr. Beth Tournis at um Children's Hospital of Chicago. And I give her a shout out because she she forever changed my life. Um, I was able to shadow her for a couple days. She was mostly pediatrics, a little bit of, you know, audios and hearing aids, and then a lot of cochlear implants. And just getting to see a kid hear for the first time, and how it has the ability to forever change the life not only of the child, but also of the parents and the extended family. Um, I was sold, I was I was like, I, you know, I could do this. And I was super excited about it. So I'm forever grateful that, you know, they let me come in and observe. And that Dr. Tournis was so willing to let me learn and just be a part of her days for a couple days.


Carrie: [00:06:12] Well. Wow. And then you landed in Florida, obviously, and had a career at, um, with children who have hearing needs too in Florida. So how long were you there?


Kari: [00:06:28] Yes, I did my graduate work at University of Florida and then did my last year externship at the University of Miami, and I was there for about ten years. I ran and directed the children's hearing program there, and, uh, it was awesome. It was a really neat opportunity. I was able to step into leadership early in my career, which had it was amazing and awesome, and it had its own struggles. So it was really, really neat to be a part of a large university and to just be part of such a well rounded, incredibly smart, amazingly supportive team.


Carrie: [00:07:17] And I'm sure all of those stepping stones in your early career with leadership kind of got you to where you are now. And in your bio, you mentioned that you're a full time with DB coaching group and that you wear many hats in your own family. You're a survivor of several life threatening health conditions. You're a former Division one college athlete. You're a TEDx speaker alum, and a recovering workaholic, as you call it. Did any of these personal characteristics, characteristics that you mentioned with you and your website lead you to pursue what you're doing now, which is coaching?


Kari: [00:08:01] I, I think yeah, it's a good question. I think in many ways, um, for all of us, like our, our past experiences, especially our past hardships, often mold and shape the direction that our lives lead. Um. And I was no different. I, um, I think a big part of, uh, for me was being always an athlete. Um, growing up, I was always involved in athletics, went on to Indiana University to play college volleyball. And it was through that experience that I, I remember at any given time, just having six, seven coaches surrounding me, and there was coaches there for conditioning and strength and your mental health and you know, your your specialty coach. Right? So if you play defense, you had a specialty coach, then you had the head coach. And it just felt like an environment that was so rich in supports and, um, grace and compassion and also people there that were willing to challenge you to make you better. And when I got into the real world. I guess I was a little naive because I felt like, yeah, like this, this sports bubble is going to be, you know, in, in, in the real world. And I remember just kind of like looking around and being like, wait, like, where are my coaches? Like, where are my people? And I remember thinking that like, wow, like this is really hard to navigate without a coach, without a playbook, without kind of guidelines to, you know, boundaries to kind of work within. And then you had mentioned I, I battled a few health conditions that were life threatening. And I think through that experience, you just see the world completely different, you know, for good or bad. And I remember through one of the conditions I was battling, um.


Kari: [00:10:23] A colleague had a coach and part of that part of that of having a coach. The coach, um, met with me and talked to me just to get input. And I'll never forget, she said to me, like, have you ever thought about coaching? And I was just sitting there like, no, I'm just trying to get through the day, you know? Like, I am just trying to survive. Like you have no idea, like what's going on in my life right now, like coaching? And I remember getting off the phone with her and saying to my husband, like, do you know that there's like, professional coaches? Like it's not just, you know, on a field or arena or a court, like there are people that are coaching professionals. And I remember thinking, gosh, two things. Gosh, that makes so much sense. And the second thing I thought is, could I do that full time? Because that sounds amazing. And, you know, through my illnesses, it was just always it was always on my mind. And then I, you know, I, I when I got healthier and stronger, I looked into different programs. And that's kind of what led me to IPEC and, uh, started the coaching group with my business partner, Dr. Amy Badstuber. And it's it's just been so much fun and such a neat experience. And so, yeah, I think the answer is, yeah. Like my lived experiences being an athlete, battling health issues, having different leadership roles early in my career, and then also being a mom and transitioning to that role and wearing that hat. I think all of it kind of led me to where I am today.


Carrie: [00:12:11] Yeah, that makes so much sense about your college career and coaching and having all of these people supporting you. And then you get out into the real world and you're like, wait, I need to have these people to kind of get me to the next level or to keep me going and whatever path I want to go, or thinking bigger however that might be. And I feel that coaching is really kind of a growing certification or a career pathway in different areas. Can you you you mentioned professional coaching and can you just maybe share a broaden a little bit more about how professionals and individuals might view coaching? Because I think what you said coaching typically you think about athletes, right? But you don't think about, oh, wait, there's a whole other world out there that people can benefit from coaching.


Kari: [00:13:10] Yeah, totally. I always I always say this line, I always say professional athletes have coaches. Professionals need coaches. and the so coaching really you're right Carrie. It really has taken um it's become more popular and it's become almost like a buzzword that people talk about. Or some companies, you know, say, oh, we offer coaching. Um, and I think it's important to recognize that. True coaching is very different than, let's say, consulting or mentorship. Um, so consulting, right. It serves a purpose. It's great. But it's really hey, here's a roadmap. This is how you're going to do it. And here's our advice. Mentoring also serves a purpose, right? I have incredible mentors that supported me and my career and still support me. But the issue that can happen with mentors is that sometimes it's a let me show you how I did it and hey, come with me, which can be okay and it can be really helpful. But if your path and your desires and your interests are a little bit different than your mentor, that can be kind of how you go on a path that might not be a good fit for you. Um, and then the other one that gets thrown in with coaching a lot of times is therapy or counseling, and that is a bit different too, than, than coaching.


Kari: [00:14:41] Um, therapy really is something that kind of stays in your past. It looks at your your past experiences. What about your past is showing up today. It often takes people from dysfunctional to functional and with true coaching, the coaching that we do with our group, it really gets at the core of who you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. And the neat thing about coaching is that it's a true partnership so we don't guide it. We're not telling you do this, do that. It's really having that person to ask the right questions, ask the tough questions so that you can kind of go inside and say, hey, you know what? For the first time, I'm listening to myself, my heart, my head, and I'm choosing to move forward a certain way. And so coaching, they often say, takes people from functional, right? They're they're doing pretty good. They're functional and makes them more optimal. So that idea of taking someone good to great. Hmm.


Carrie: [00:15:53] I love that and I, I think I know your answer, but why? Or who should get a coach or want a coach?


Kari: [00:16:05] I mean, obviously everyone.


Carrie: [00:16:08] I thought that was going to be your answer.


Kari: [00:16:12] You know, and we laugh about it and we joke about it. But man, like, it's so true. Like, everyone could benefit from a coach. Um, you know, I guess I guess there's three things that stand out to me. Um, I think besides everyone, I think somebody who's. Looking to be to show up, like to just show up in their life and show up authentically and show up in a raw form. And it's just like, okay, bringing all of themselves to the session or to the appointment, the good, the bad, the otherwise right. They're just ready to, to be, to, to show up all of themselves. They don't want to put a mask on anymore. They really want to dig deep and show up. Um, I think the second thing is someone who is just open to growing. You know, I think a lot of times lately we hear about this growth mindset. And for me, it's just having the ability to to have the courage to self-reflect because my goodness, it is way easier in this world to just go, go, go work, work, work and not stop and think about your feelings, your emotions, your actions. It is your thoughts. It is so much easier to just hit fast forward and go, go, go. I'll worry about that later. I'll worry about that later.


Kari: [00:17:54] That's not my problem. I worry about it later. And so I think someone who's ready to have a mirror held to them, which is not always easy, you know, and to do to do the work of reflecting and being willing and open to grow. And then I think the third thing is they're ready to accept a partnership. You know, we know in health care that there's many professions, one of which is audiology that is dominated by women. And women often struggle with asking for help and asking for support. And so it seems like such a. Simple thing, but we often have clients that'll say, like, I just had a client last week who said to me, wow, for the first time in my career. I'm asking for support, and it finally feels like I'm not alone in my career. And so I think someone who's ready to accept that support and they don't have to be like, oh my God, I'm ready, you know, let's do this. Yeah. Give me all the help. But just like has an openness to it that like getting support and having a partnership in your career and your leadership journey and your transitions that happen in your life and in your career. They're open to getting support and collaborating in a true partnership that is coaching. Mm.


Carrie: [00:19:33] That's a great explanation of the everyone but drilling down to really, who you know, may benefit being open and ready to kind of, um, have that mirror held to them. Is that the person that you've probably looking for in that partnership? So if there's someone who's out there who's listening and thinking, yeah, maybe this is something that would be beneficial for me. Can you share what maybe a coaching session might look like or how does that work?


Kari: [00:20:09] You want to do one now?


Carrie: [00:20:12] We could I don't know how good it would be. Yeah.


Kari: [00:20:15] We'll do that for the next podcast.


Carrie: [00:20:17] Okay. There you go.


Kari: [00:20:19] Um, yeah. What does it look like? So. Logistically it is typically 60 minutes. We um, with our coaching group, we have two different programs. Um, we have a program that's three months or 12 sessions and then a program that's six months, 24 sessions. And the reason that it's the three month or six month commitment is that it in order to see sustainable changes for yourself, it's really requires a good amount of sessions, you know, to look at things, to kind of pull back the layers and get to that core of what your blocks are, what your limiting beliefs are, what your assumptions are. Because we all show up with filters and baggage that we see the world with. And coaching, you really need that time and that commitment to identify those blocks and those limiting beliefs and to break through them. Um. Outside of the logistics. And of course, we have people who are like, I just want to work on this problem. And so we offer some smaller opportunities where there's 2 or 3 sessions where we might do an assessment and then offer 2 or 3 sessions. And that's really for people who are like, I have a meeting in a month. And I, you know, I want to ask for a promotion. Can you support me with that? So it's really specific to a specific issue or problem that they want to work through. And then, like each session, looks a little different. The client really guides the sessions and what's on their mind, what's showing up for them personally, professionally. And it's kind of becomes this harmony, this like beautiful, beautiful song that just comes together with the client and with the coach, and you just harmonize through your journey together to figure out how you can best support them to achieve whatever their goals may be.


Carrie: [00:22:27] Mhm.And how do you is there ever like a determination of who would be a good client or that kind of thing. I know the harmony and I can't imagine anybody not clicking with you because you have this personality that just shines. And I feel like I could just spill out anything to you right now, and you would be such a great listener. But I'm sure there's just different personalities. And how does that work?


Kari: [00:22:58] Oh, that's a great question, Carrie. So we do, um, we do offer, uh, complimentary, uh, 45 minute intro call. And in that, in that call, like, we can, we can figure out, you know, is coaching right for that person? Um, maybe they need some other support. Maybe coaching is not the right fit for them. Um, and then, like you said, you know, if there's. You know, different. You know, everyone has different styles, right? Just like different athletes click and resonate with different coaches, right? I know even for me there's some coaches I had that like it just it just worked. You know it was I appreciated the how they gave me feedback. Um, I appreciated the way that they they connected with me, the way that they coached me. And so you yeah, you see that a little bit with clients as well where maybe it's not a great fit. Um, but I most of the time, people that reach out and jump on these intro calls with us, most of the time it does work, it does click. And the reason for that I think, is, well, two things. Um, we're unique. We have more than one coach, so we have myself and Amy. And so Amy and I are both different, right? She has a different personality than me. And so maybe they click with her and they don't click with me. So we're really unique that it's not just one person. If they feel more connected with her or they feel like her skill set might be better for them, then she can see them, or I can see them, you know, vice versa. And so we're really, really unique in that sense that most of the time, like whether it's either a good fit for me or it's a good fit for Amy. And like I was saying, most people that jump on these calls like they're ready, you know, they're just they're tired of feeling drained and overwhelmed and anxious and they're ready to show up with having more peace in their life, finding more joy, and not being that workaholic that I can so relate to.


Carrie: [00:25:13] That. Yes, that makes a lot of sense. And I can see how when somebody sets up that 45 minute call with one of you, they've already done a lot of thinking and research, and they're just ready to take that next step. So I can see how that would click really quickly to. In your bio, you also mention that you are a master practitioner of the Energy Leadership Index Index. How does that play into your coaching?


Kari: [00:25:46] It is. It is plays in a ton. Um, so the ELI so the Energy Leadership Index is a really cool, really powerful assessment. It's different than a personality test. So I think many of us are used to personality tests, maybe a disk or a Myers-Briggs. And it's different because this is an attitude test. So it looks at the attitude and the filters that you show up with on a day to day basis. And then what's really cool is it shows how you show up and what energy you bring when you're under stress.


Carrie: [00:26:36] Mm.


Kari: [00:26:37] And what's really important about having this assessment for us in our coaching group is that we know that many people in health care are kind of living in that constant state of stress.


Carrie: [00:26:49] Mhm.


Kari: [00:26:50] And so we, we care of course, how you're showing up on day to day. But we really want to know how you're showing up under stress and what stress is doing to your energy and to your attitude. And the other thing that's really neat about this assessment is that, you know, with a personality and you have kids Carrie like I think in a lot of ways, like they're just kind of born with their personality. Wouldn't you agree?


Carrie: [00:27:18] Like, oh yeah, both my kids are so different. And I'm like, they've been raised but under the same roof. But I'm like, they definitely were born with their personality too. They're enhanced by us, but they're definitely different kids.


Kari: [00:27:38] Mhm I love that I love that word enhance right. You're right. So like it's almost like a work with approach. Mhm. Right. Like this is your personality. Like let me do all that I can do to enhance that. And so. Well, it's it's kind of difficult with a personality test. You're like, well, that's your personality. And like, we're going to do our best as the, the, the leader here to kind of work with your personality and enhance it, like you said. And the neat thing about attitude is that we can all change the way that we it's a choice, right? The attitude that we show up with on a day to day is a constant choice. And so what's neat about the ELI and the debriefs that we do is that it just you just gain a lot of awareness, a lot of clarity about how you're showing up. And then you can choose if you want to change that. And so we're, we're, we're it's a really, really, really neat, really powerful assessment. And. Yeah, it's. I can't say enough about it.


Carrie: [00:28:43] Well, I know that you had put that bug in my ear a while ago about the, um. ELI. And you're making me excited to, uh, connect with you about doing that and kind of pulling, seeing what filters I have and what I bring to stressful situations. Because, as you said, in health care and in our jobs, we just are under the, you know, like under a lot of stress. And what you said earlier, we don't take the time to think about anything. We just kind of get up and go and never have that reflection time. So I'm sure that shows up too, within the assessment, too, of how we look at life.


Kari: [00:29:31] Absolutely. I'm ready for you. Let me know.


Carrie: [00:29:33]  I know you are. I know you are. We'll set this up for sure. This would be like a whole another reveal after, um, see what's happening. But I know that you said that it's Amy, right? Is your, um, the other coach. And tell me a little bit about your name. Do you dB coaching group and where did that come from?


Kari: [00:29:57] So D is my married last name. So Dermer and Amy's last name is Badstubner. So there's the D, there's the B, but it's of course lowercase and capital like decibel. And it's done on purpose. We both Amy and I met in graduate school at University of Florida, and Amy went on to, um, build and run her own audiology practice, which she recently successfully sold. And I obviously had a very fruitful, amazing career in audiology on the academic university side. And it was really important as we were creating our business, to have a tribute to audiology and kind of where we came from. And for me, I'm forever grateful for all the people in audiology that shaped me as a person and as a professional and ones that continue to to I mean, just last week I was talking to a mentor of mine, um, and, and it was just really important to both of us to just kind of give a shout out to where we came from and to not lose our connection with audiology, which, as you know, is such an amazing profession and has given me so, so much. And then the last thing was dream big. And I think, Carrie, when we first started, I think you said like think big.


Carrie: [00:31:27] Mhm.


Kari: [00:31:29] Um, which I was like, oh like I totally yeah think big, dream big. You know, Amy and I live by that. We really try to challenge each other within our business and on our team to challenge the status quo. To what? No idea is too big, no thought is too crazy and just kind of see where it lands. You know, life is too short to play small and to, you know, be timid. And so it's a reminder of, hey, you know, building a business might be hard. It has its own ups and downs, but never to forget that dreaming big is important.


Carrie: [00:32:11] I love that with it. Keeping your roots in audiology with the with the name, and then having a partner that happened to be in grad school with you. So that is so cool. And I know on your web page you and within your bio, you said you focused a lot on supporting those early career to mid-career professionals in healthcare. Why did you kind of use that as a focus?


Kari: [00:32:40] I think it was, you know. I think because that was the area that we found that we needed the most support, and it wasn't always available or easy to find. I think that group is interesting. Um, you know, early career, you're trying to figure things out. You're trying to figure out your professional fingerprint, mid-career. Sometimes your personal life changes, things get a little crazy, and that might show up professionally and I think. It's a group that needs a lot of support. There's a lot of things happening, a lot of transitions, again, personally in people's lives or professionally and or professionally. And Amy and I really wanted to be support to that group and make sure that. You know, I don't believe that you need to learn things the hard way. A lot of people say that, that you just got to figure it out yourself and that you got to figure things out the hard way. And it's I don't believe that. And so I think that if you know someone is in their early career or mid-career and just trying to figure it out, if we can make it a little bit easier, that feels incredibly rewarding. Mm.


Carrie: [00:34:20] Do you have any other target groups that you have besides health care professionals? And I know you like women is a big part of of your group too. And supporting women who are in leadership positions too. But outside of that, do you have focuses?


Kari: [00:34:37] Yeah. We're really focused right now on health care. You know, there's such a need, especially post-pandemic. We have clients that range from nurses to audiologists to speech language pathologists to physicians. And there's a lot of patterns, you know, that they're showing up with. And there's a ton of burnout and a ton of just kind of reflection happening. And so for right now, our group is really focused on health care. You know, who knows, maybe in a year from now or two years from now, you know, Amy and I have different interests and different passions. We both have pretty diverse backgrounds and we have ideas in mind. Um, but for right now, we're really focused on supporting those early career and mid-career professionals in healthcare.


Carrie: [00:35:29] Well, that's where your dB comes back into play, right? Your dream big.


Kari: [00:35:34] Exactly.


Carrie: [00:35:36] If listeners wanted to get connected where they're like, hey, this sounds like something I would like to explore or get more information about, how can they get in touch with you or with Amy?


Kari: [00:35:49] Yes. So they can go to our website. Our website is dB coaching Group. Com, or you can find us on LinkedIn. Uh, I'm on LinkedIn. Kari Morgenstein Dermer, you can send us a message. Um, Amy, is Amy Badstubner. Um, and you can send her a message. We love just talking to people. You know, we do, like virtual coffee dates and things like that. And, you know, I really encourage any of your listeners that if they just are, they just want to chat or want to hash something out, or they heard about coaching, but they don't really know what coaching is and they want to just talk about it, reach out. We're we're we're super available. We want to have conversations. It's really fun to meet new people. And, um, yeah, just send us a message and we're we would love to connect.


Carrie: [00:36:42] Well, I can definitely link the website or the your website in the show notes too Kari. Is there anything that I forgot to ask you that you were hoping I would ask you?


Kari: [00:36:56] No, I think you covered it all. It was so fun. It was so good to talk to you.


Carrie: [00:37:01] Thank you. I'm so glad that we had this conversation. And I'm sure there are a ton of listeners out there who are just feeling that burnout, whether it's if they're the healthcare or the schools or whatever. But as professionals who are, um, in this focus in speech and hearing, who just really want to kind of see what their next step might be or just kind of make it a little bit easier. And I hope that they reach out to you guys. So I just want to say I am amazed at what you guys have done to, um, with dB coaching and just kind of, you know, taking, I guess, that, um, dream big that you both had together and just making a move and, and going in that direction. I know that takes a lot of courage too. But obviously it was the right thing for both of you and how exciting to kind of have your roots in audiology, but really go in another direction to, to to help more people in a different way. So thanks for all that you do.


Kari: [00:38:08] Oh, absolutely. That's so kind of you. Thank you. Thank you for all you do, Carrie. You're incredible. And yeah, and you're changing so many lives. So I'm really grateful for the opportunity and to be able to chat.


Carrie: [00:38:21] All right. Well, thank you, listeners for listening to the Empower Ideology podcast, and I hope that you will visit Dr. Kari Morgenstein at her website and reach out to her in the future. Thank you.


Announcer: [00:38:34] Thank you for listening. This has been a production of the 3C Digital Media Network.




Episode 62: empowEAR Audiology - Sydney Bassard

Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 62 of empowEAR Audiology with Dr. Carrie Spangler.


Carrie: [00:00:15] Welcome to the empowEAR Audiology Podcast, a production of the 3C Digital Media Network. I am your host, Dr. Carrie Spangler, a passionate, deaf and hard of hearing audiologist. Each episode will bring an empowering message surrounding audiology and beyond. Thank you for spending time with me today, and let's get started with today's episode. Okay, today I am excited to introduce to all of you Sydney Bassard and she is an ASHA certified Speech-Language pathologist. She received both her Bachelor of Science and Public Health and her Master of Speech Pathology from the University of South Carolina. Sydney is licensed in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Her clinical focus areas are working with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, and those with literacy challenges. Her motto of listening, learning, and advocating stems from the three principles that guide her clinical practice. Sydney, I want to welcome you to the empowEAR Audiology podcast. Thanks for being here.


Sydney: [00:01:29] Thank you so much for having me, Carrie. I'm really excited.


Carrie: [00:01:32] I'm excited to have this conversation with you, too. Before we dive into today's topic of health literacy, I would love if you could share with our audience a little background of how you ventured into the field of speech-language pathology, and then your interest of working with children and individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.


Sydney: [00:01:56] Yeah, so I have like an unconventional way that I came into the field. So I actually went to school to be a pharmacist and thought that that was going to be what I was going to do. And then over time, my brother, who's younger than me, got diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. So I ended up working for a literacy intervention company and loved the work that I was doing there. It was far better than the hard sciences that I was having to take in order to try to become a pharmacist. So I ended up switching my major and became a public health major, and then ultimately went to grad school to become an SLP. So that's kind of how I got into speech language pathology. And then specifically with the deaf and hard of hearing population, I met a professor who does research in that area, and she was looking for people to help volunteer in her lab. I signed up and said, sure, I'd love to. Like I want to make connections. And that's where I started learning a lot more about this particular population, specifically looking at listening, spoken language and literacy outcomes. And ever since then, I've been here.


Carrie: [00:03:03] Well, yeah. That's exciting. I love hearing everybody's stories of how they kind of venture into it, because everyone has such a lot of people have an unconventional way that they get into it. I also wanted to ask you a little bit about your listeningSLP. I feel like that's how I know you because of a lot of your social media, which is amazing what you put out there. But can you just share about your work experience and your business?


Sydney: [00:03:32] Yeah. Thank you. So I used to work outpatient pediatrics on a cochlear implant team, and I loved what I was doing. But coming from a public health background, one thing that I always was able to notice is when people had a good grasp and understanding of some of the things that they were being asked to do for their child with following up for audiological appointments, whether it was going to weekly speech therapy sessions, charging the device, all of those different things. Right. And so when people had a good understanding, you saw that they did them pretty naturally versus when people didn't have a great understanding. Sometimes it came, it could come off to professionals as if they didn't care. They weren't trying when really it wasn't any of those things. It's that they didn't have a good understanding or knowledge of what they were supposed to do. So I was like, you know, I have all of this knowledge about hearing loss and working with the population from grad school. I would love to just share like little tidbits and things that people could do at home. So it really started on. I just wanted to share about listening and spoken language on Instagram, and it's kind of morphed since then, as my own thinking has morphed a little bit too. And now our goal is really just how do we support language development for deaf and hard of hearing children, and then also to how we can find different resources and supports that families may not know about.


Carrie: [00:04:59] Yeah, well, I know your little tidbits are just like those little bytes of information kind of stick with people. So it's nice to have that. And I know today we had talked ahead of the podcast and wanted to dive deeper into a conversation about health literacy and how that can impact a lot of the families that our listeners are working with. And I can see now that your combination or your background with public health and Speech-Language pathology really kind of tie into this. So on a general level, can you just share with the audience what is health literacy and what are some of those key components of health literacy?


Sydney: [00:05:45] Yes. So health literacy just actually got a new definition. So we can think of it as two kind of constructs. You have personal health literacy. And that's just really more so about the degree to which an individual or a person is able to find, understand and use information in order to make health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. And then the other one is about organizational health literacy. So that's being able to understand how to navigate and work within a system in order to make those informed healthcare decisions for themselves and for other people. And both of those are based on the CDC definition of what health literacy is to this point. So when I think about health literacy, there's the three A's that we can always have. And this is what I encourage people to think about when we are looking for information or creating information. It should always be accurate, accessible and actionable.


Carrie: [00:06:46] I like that acronym or the accurate, accessible and actionable and. For having those three A's. How can how does that impact the well-being for families and and individuals? How can we make the three A's come alive for families?


Sydney: [00:07:09] Oh, I mean, I personally think that having a good understanding of whatever is going on is like the driving force to really committing to care, but also understanding the importance of it. So when we think about like information needing to be accurate, right, we know that sometimes pseudoscience is excuse me, we know sometimes that pseudoscience is out there. So that just means like information that's not accurate. So whenever we're sharing things we want to make sure that it is accurate. It's based on evidence that's based on the science that we know is there. So that we want to share with families like things that they're actually able to understand from that perspective. Then it should be accessible. So accessibility sometimes is not always in like just the print form. That may be multimedia. It could be video. And then we should always think about the fact that the average reading rate is around eighth grade for adults across the US. So when we are looking for resources, if they have a higher reading level and in order to understand them, meaning that they're filled with professional words and jargon that may not be accessible for people, like for the general public or population and then actionable. So one thing that we know, like coming out of the field of public health, is that information alone is not enough. So it's great that they have accurate information that it was accessible for them. But if there's no actionable steps based on what's being presented, what exactly are they supposed to do with that? And so sometimes too, when we don't talk about what is actionable, that's maybe where we see like a breakdown in communication and fall off with care.


Carrie: [00:08:53] Yeah. Which is kind of leads directly into my next question is like, what are some of the challenges that families face as it relates to health literacy, too? I mean, you talked about this breakdown with actionable items, but it probably breaks down on all of these three A levels.


Sydney: [00:09:17] I think the biggest one that I've seen is like lost to follow up with care. So we see a lot of people who we know in the US. We're really fortunate that we have a newborn hearing screening program that's universal in all 50 states, but people go through that, right. And then there's no sometimes kids have no follow up and no follow up can happen for many reasons, right? The parents just don't follow up. People move. Things happen. Like somebody may be feeling overwhelmed with having a newborn and then also having to do an additional appointment. In addition to like the well-baby appointments, there's so many things that can happen. But when we're talking about after the screening, if it just says your child, you know, did not pass, this is what we want you to do. But it's not like written in a parent-friendly way. If it like the steps are not actionable in the sense of like you just told them that they should follow up, but like a list wasn't provided or hyperlinks to a website for them to make the appointment online weren't provided. Is that actually actionable? Maybe. Maybe not. So we see that, I think on the early end, but then even to his kids kind of progressed. I mean, sometimes people have difficulties where they don't go to mappings or they're not able to make it to mappings. Do they understand the importance of like why we do CI mappings, why going to those appointments are important? Do they understand the importance of speech therapy and not just being like, oh, so my kid can talk, but to have like a better and more accurate understanding of exactly what they're supposed to be doing in order to benefit their kid. And if they're not provided with that information, maybe they just don't know, especially if this is their first encounter with like, children, or if it's their first encounter with like navigating the deaf and hard of hearing space.


Carrie: [00:11:09] Which is statistically about 90% of our families who are kind of navigating through that space. Because a lot of times that the child is the first person that they've met who happens to be deaf or hard of hearing. Do you see? Um. Any other barriers as it relates to maybe cultural differences or language differences that kind of contribute to the health literacy challenges too.


Sydney: [00:11:44] Yeah. So we know that these kind of what sometimes are called disparities in the field exist across the board. And so we see it even with health literacy and how it comes into play, is that information being presented in a way that is culturally mindful. So just because I have an infographic, maybe knowing that, like a family might have distrust of the medical system or people is like giving them a handout and sending them out the door. The best way to do it? Maybe not. If I have a video version of the same thing that shows real people talks about real experiences, maybe that would resonate more, especially if we know that there are people that like, look like them or that are within their culture kind of represented within those spaces. Um, I think too, sometimes, like we as professionals tend to be some of that barrier when it comes to health literacy and health information. We want to think that we're not gatekeepers of information, but I've sat on many different sides with many different families, and sometimes it's the professionals like we are not freely sharing all of the different resources in a responsible way. We might just start rattling off about 5 or 10 things, but what we never did was spend time to send a follow-up with actionable hyperlinks that people can go and look for more resources, or even sometimes to like after you give people information, asking them what questions do you have and not do you have any questions? Because most people will be like, no, no, no, no. Like what questions do you have? Most times somebody at least comes up with one and it kind of opens that door for a conversation.


Carrie: [00:13:23] Yeah, those open-ended questions are really important in that kind of a situation, and probably giving some wait time to just let them process and think about all of that. You shared a lot about some of these barriers, especially as professionals that we kind of, you know, put up, I guess, are kind of gatekeepers of information. Do you have some specific strategies that could be employed in order to enhance health literacy for families, especially our families who have children who are deaf or hard of hearing?


Sydney: [00:14:02] Yeah. So I always think that before you provide anything, you need to have gone through it yourself. That sounds a little silly to say, but in being transparent, I've done it like I have done the thing of like, you just pick up a resource, you skim over it really quick and you're like, okay, this looks good enough. And you, you hand it to somebody because we know that we're busy and sometimes things happen, but really making sure that we take the time to read this through, is it riddled with a bunch of technical terms that may make it difficult for a family, that maybe that's not one that I'm going to share, or I might modify it in a way and like on my own, make notes on the side for somebody to be able to follow along with it. So looking at it from that standpoint with accuracy and making sure like the readability of the information is good, I think with accessibility, especially with individuals who are deaf and are hard of hearing, not just always providing things in printed form can be helpful. And then even like an aside, thinking about where the printed materials are. So if they're readily available but they're, you know, not in a place that's easily seen, that can be challenging.


Sydney: [00:15:14] So having them in multiple different places around the office could be good. But then also thinking about the way that the media is presented. So printed form tends to be the way that we do things. But we know that like the reading rates for adults are low in this country. We also know too that most people don't actually read. I mean, think about when your doctor gives you something about your health, or even better, when you get medication from the pharmacist. And it's like, here's this pamphlet for you to learn all about it. And you do what? You rip it off and you throw it in the trash. Same thing is happening with most people. So if you can provide something in a video format, and then we know that with videos we always want to make sure like captioning is available. So looking to see if those things are kind of out there as well. And then always, always, always there's something actionable that there's a website or even a statement like, you know, call your pediatric audiologist now or contact your local speech-language pathologist for questions. Here's how you can find one. If you don't have like, give the people something for them to have to do after they've soaked in that information.


Carrie: [00:16:20] And you talked about the different ways of presenting it, like print and like video and different ways like that. Do you feel that actually sitting there with them is helpful too, or that's just probably not always. A way to do it or it's not available. You're not with them?


Sydney: [00:16:44] Yeah.I think sitting with people as they watch it is really beneficial. Well, one, you can assure at least if nothing else, they got the information right, but two, then you're there for whatever questions they may have. I think the internet is a beautiful place. I don't know what I would do without the internet. It provides lots of great resources, but the internet is not a replacement for a professional. So sometimes if we give somebody a resource and we're not there to help guide and scaffold their understanding of what is available, they turn to the internet. And sometimes they may get really good responses and advice, and sometimes they're getting advice and responses that were going, oh no, that's definitely not where we need to be. So kind of handholding. I don't see it as hand-holding. I see it more so as like you're ensuring that people at least have the baseline of what they should.


Carrie: [00:17:45] And. Going off of that. You know, I know all of us use like social media, whether it's, you know, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, all of that good stuff that is out there. How how can families really discern reliable and accurate health information because they're getting it from these different avenues?


Sydney: [00:18:12] Yes. And I think that's where the tricky part comes in. Right. Because as professionals, to a certain extent, we have a little bit of training of how to evaluate for this information of being good. But if you're a family and you're like, I'm just grasping for anything, you may not have the skills to do that. So the one thing that I look for when I'm looking for any type of support is, is this citing other resources? Right. So one person should not be like the sole idea bank, even when you look at the CDC website, which is very helpful when looking at different information, they are citing research articles or other places for where they got some of the things that they're supporting. So for families, I think always looking to see like are they referencing some other bodies of work in some aspects is going to be good because you know that they're not just relying on themselves, they're using something else. To kind of seeing like across different things. And now this is going to take a little work. Sometimes we like having that one stop shop of I got this and I'm good to go and I'm walking out the door, but especially if you don't know a lot of information about it, I think getting a couple of different things. And pulling from multiple places is going to be beneficial and helpful, because then you're able to do a little bit more of a comparison of what this particular resource says, that this resource says and what this resource says as well.


Carrie: [00:19:41] Yeah, which can kind of be overwhelming for families. As we shared at the beginning, you know, 90% of families, this is the first time that they're going through that. And if they have these different resources that they're looking at, how can families really make that informed decision as far as like, which one should I be? You know, I guess believing or kind of investing so that they're making the best decision for their child.


Sydney: [00:20:16] Yeah. So I think that doing your own research is good. I am a big personal believer in, like, we are our own health advocates. Like we have to have understanding, but that's where professionals come in too. So like, even if you've kind of looked at a couple of different resources and you still have questions, reach out to reach out and get professional support and help. And I know that sometimes that comes with a cost, but there are definitely opportunities out there that are not as expensive. Um, or places I think where you can like basically phone in a question and see if you're able to get a response. I think that that helps alleviate a little bit of the burden on families like your goal is to be informed, but your goal is not to become the doctor. So you may have to do a little bit of your own research, but you don't have to take on fully understanding and comprehending everything on your own.


Carrie: [00:21:10] And kind of on the flip side, to help families along, what can we as communication professionals, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, teachers of the deaf, anybody kind of related in our field? What role can we play in educational programs or initiatives to really address health literacy with families?


Sydney: [00:21:33] Yeah, I think the biggest thing is looking at the readability of text and start curating resources. So I always like to have multiple resources that talk about the same thing, but they might talk about it in a slightly different manner. So depending on who's in front of me, I'm not just constantly saying like, here's here's this information on this, it's no, you're able to modify and adapt for the individual and the needs that are in front of you. And then I think we have to spend time. And I know that time is limited. Like, this sounds lovely. And in a perfect world, we do this, but we do need to have time within our days and our schedules to look for these resources we do not know at all. Like I love audiology. If I could, I would be dual certified, but there's so much that I don't know and it would be an injustice to the people that I serve to try to like, give them all of this information and say, here you go. Like, no, no, maybe I have 1 or 2 pieces of information about audiology, and then I'm putting it back on, like referring to the professional helping to direct them and kind of guide them back. And then we as professionals too, can whenever we see some of these initiatives or things take place, like reach out and figure out how we can support and help, and then also to kind of learning from these other people that have started doing some of this work, how to present information that way. I mean, 90% of the things that have come from the Listening SLP are because I couldn't find it somewhere else. And but these were things that I needed or things that I wanted for people to know or to be able to share. So being able to kind of create your own is also something that you can do too.


Carrie: [00:23:24] Yeah. And kind of looking forward. I know you're you have creative mind and the comment that you just made of like I couldn't find it anywhere else. So I did some of that accurate research myself to put something accessible together that might be actionable for someone else. But how do you envision the future of health literacy as a whole?


Sydney: [00:23:51] Oh, I see health literacy coming into play more and more, and I'm really excited to hear that more grad school programs are doing a little bit more with public health and realizing, like the impact of public health within our field, public health impacts every aspect of an individual's life. Being able to have good understanding, like the decisions that we're asking people to make when it comes to health-related things, are going to impact them or their child for the lifetime. So we can't take these things lightly and just be like, okay, well, you're making a decision like, no, people should be able to make well-informed decisions, and the only way they can do that is by fully understanding and grasping all of the information there. So as we see like the not the invention, but like more prevalence of people using video as a way to communicate and things like that, I think we're definitely going to see more of an increase for all populations, but especially like this population, about what exactly like initial steps look like, what follow up looks like and supports that are there.


Carrie: [00:25:04] You. And hopefully, with all of that, we will have more informed parents who, like you said, that have the direct impact on the outcomes of children who are deaf and hard of hearing because they are the number one advocates and they're always going to be there for them.


Sydney: [00:25:25] Yeah, absolutely.


Carrie: [00:25:28] So Sydney, as we kind of wrap up today, is there anything I didn't ask you that you wished I would have asked you?


Sydney: [00:25:37] I don't think so. Um, no. I was just so happy to be here and kind of chat about health literacy. Like, this is definitely been my first love. Um, long before doing anything like super speech-related. I've always loved health literacy and just have seen it as such an important thing that we as professionals just don't talk about enough. But we are now. And so that, I think, is the the best thing that we can do.


Carrie: [00:26:12] Well, Sydney, if there are listeners out there who would like to get a hold of you, how can they do that? How can they find you?


Sydney: [00:26:26] Uh, so you you can find me at the Listening SLP on all social media platforms, dot the listeningslp.com. Or you can send me an email at hello at the listening slp.com.


Carrie: [00:26:41] Okay, well, I will definitely make sure to put those links in the show notes so that people can directly link and follow you and all of your social media platforms, as well as get a hold of you through email. And Sydney, thank you so much for being a guest today on the EmpowEAR Audiology podcast. It was a great conversation about health literacy and where how we need to be thinking in order to be advocates and in our profession, but also for the families and children that we work with on a daily basis.


Sydney: [00:27:20] Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Really appreciate it.


Announcer: [00:27:24] Thank you for listening. This has been a production of the 3C Digital Media Network.




Episode 61: empowEAR Audiology - Valli Gideons

Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 61 of empowEAR Audiology with Dr. Carrie Spangler.


Carrie: [00:00:14] Welcome to the empowEAR Audiology Podcast, a production of the 3C Digital Media Network. I am your host, Dr. Carrie Spangler, a passionate, deaf and hard of hearing audiologist. Each episode will bring an empowering message surrounding audiology and beyond. Thank you for spending time with me today, and let's get started with today's episode. All right, welcome to the empowEAR Audiology podcast. I am going to read a little bio about a return guest that I have on the podcast today, and I'm really excited about our conversation that we are about to have. I have Valli Gideons with me, and she is an author, speaker, and mother of two teenagers who were born with hearing loss with a degree in journalism she transitioned from everyday stories to sharing her family's hearing loss journey to date. Her work has reached millions of people across multiple platforms with an engaged community. She is passionate about her role as an advocate for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Valli is also the author of the children's book Now Hear This Harper Soars with Her Magic Ears, which she co-wrote with her daughter. Um. And you can also follow her journey at mybattlecall.com. So, Valli, welcome to the empowEAR Audiology podcast.


Valli: [00:01:47] Thank you for having me back.


Carrie: [00:01:49] Well, I'm excited to have you. And for all of our listeners out there, I actually had the opportunity to interview Valli, and she was a guest for episode 29, and we talked a lot about her, um, social media and her blog called The Battle Call. And since that time, she has become a author of the book Through the Fog Navigating Life's Challenges While Raising Kids with Hearing Loss. So I just wanted to encourage all of our listeners to go back and listen to episode 29, which I will link up in the show notes today, and you can hear a lot more about her story of raising her two children with cochlear implants, and also about her social media reach with my battle call. But again, welcome. Thank you for being a return guest. I was excited that your book was published. I know it was in the works the last time we were together. Um, and I'm still bummed we haven't met in person yet.


Valli: [00:02:55] I am also bummed because I see you in pictures at conferences, and when one I'm always sad I'm not there, I have the biggest FOMO. And then also you're always in other. You're in pictures with other people who I may know virtually but haven't met in person, and I just get very jealous. So someday.


Carrie: [00:03:15] Someday it's going to happen. It's going to.


Valli: [00:03:17] Happen one day.


Carrie: [00:03:18] Going to happen.


Valli: [00:03:18] Yes.


Carrie: [00:03:19] Well, I know that people can go back and listen to episode 29, but just to give everybody a frame of reference for Through the Fog and what we're going to talk about, is there anything you just want to give a background about for your kids or your backstory?


Valli: [00:03:38] When was episode 29? What was the date? I couldn't goodness.


Carrie: [00:03:43] I'd have to go back and look. I want to say, I mean, it was before you had your children's book. You were just releasing it and remember I had just ordered it.


Valli: [00:03:58] Okay, because that was February 2020.


Carrie: [00:04:01] Okay. So I think it was right after that because you talked about having to cancel all of your, like, book. You know, you were going to go on your tour with Harper and then we shut down.


Valli: [00:04:14] Yes. Wow. That seems like yesterday. And it seems like a lifetime. So, yeah, I mean, I'm not going to bore your audience. You're my bio. My gosh, that's embarrassing. It's kind of long, but, yeah, I'm just, uh. Now my kids are. Well, now a junior and senior in high school. Battle and Harpe;  Battle’s the oldest. He's who the blog is named after. And I started writing about kind of what it was like raising two kids with hearing loss and being a military wife and, um, all different aspects of my life, but particularly, you know, focused in on what it was like to raise two kids with hearing loss. So.


Carrie: [00:05:00] Yeah. And so you went from this blog and social media presence to, hey, I'm going to write a book. So how did that what prompted you to go from that blog to a book?


Valli: [00:05:14] It probably depends on what day you asked me if the story changes. Um, because it's a blur. It's a bit of a fog, but I didn't actually have any motivation to write a book, so it's just kind of still baffles me that one came to fruition. That was my story. I thought our next book would be another children's book, this one about B attle, because the first one is about Harper, and we're creatively that one's in the works. But. I think what it how it initially came to be was I was doing a lot of speaking engagements, and I thought it wouldn't it be nice to have something when I am there to, for people to leave with? There was more about my story, not my kids. And so I talked to one of my best friends from college, Vinnie. She writes the opening, the introduction in the book. She had helped edit my children's book, and I asked her if she'd be willing to help me edit some essays that I'd already written together, and just I was going to self publish and it wasn't going to be a big to do. Oh my gosh, I think it must have been getting Vinny involved because what she did, she does nothing.


Valli: [00:06:36] Halfway. She printed out everything that she dug and dug and printed out everything I had written. And she's like, I'm going to send this to you. I want you to print it, and I want you to lay it out on your dining room table. And when I did that first I was overwhelmed. It was like 25,000 plus words. And the themes were just jumping off the pages, which was navigating, navigating through the fog. It was just I didn't purposely have that metaphor. It was just all over the place. And then she's like, I think this is more than just putting some essays together. I think you really should rethink this. And then that's kind of where we started adding, you know, I added more stories, lengthened stories. It if I had been more patient, the book probably would have been fleshed out even more because, you know, you put these kind of deadlines in your head. And so I was trying to really make that deadline. Um, so and at a certain point, you think, okay, I'm done, I need to just stop or it'll never. You hear people or spend 20 years writing their book.


Carrie: [00:07:49] Right.


Valli: [00:07:50] So that's kind of how it evolved.


Carrie: [00:07:53] Yeah. So you were talking about spreading everything out on your dining room table, and then the theme kind of popped out like through the fog. Do you want to expand any more on the title and.


Valli: [00:08:08] Well, I think I realized that in every experience in my life, I had gone through, like most people, like, periods that felt like you're kind of in a fog. You don't have your footing, you can't see clearly. And then after the fog comes the light, the rainbow, after the storm. And like I realized that pattern was just kind of throughout every experience I had had. And it I mean, it was really profound. During the initial hearing loss, when Battle was identified with hearing loss at birth, it literally felt like we were living in a fog. I mean, like I can remember like yesterday and he's 18. Like I can remember just feeling a fog and then just realizing how we got we got through that. And then there's another fog and then we get through that and it's just a constant all. And so the theme for me is just always keep looking for the light like fog was going to come and go. It'll be dense sometimes it'll be hazy sometimes, but there is always light. You just have to believe. Yeah. I mean it's so corny, but it actually, no.


Carrie: [00:09:22] It's not corny.


Valli: [00:09:23] It was an actual pattern in my life that I didn't ever really put together.


Carrie: [00:09:30] I was thinking about you. I was just sharing that. We drove down to Charlotte from Ohio a couple of days ago, and I would say 80% of the trip is going through West Virginia and Virginia, and you're driving through the mountains. And it was I knew we had this podcast coming up about through the fog. And I'm like, this is so true, because that's exactly what I was going through, through the mountains. I mean, it's just a good visual. And you're driving through the mountains and it's clear and then like one second later you can't see in front of your headlights because there's such dense fog. And then you get through and there's little patches of fog and then there's sunlight. So it is a very good visual for your book. And I was thinking about you as I was driving.


Valli: [00:10:15] I love that, you know, I just hadn't thought of this either. But we live. I write about it. I think in the opening chapter about we have settled in our favorite little beach town in Southern California that's known for what they call June Gloom. It's a coastal fog, and we kind of live up a canyon, but we can see the ocean like I'm looking at it right now, but the fog rolls in. It's just part of what living here is like. And then almost always, you can it's guaranteed that eventually it's going to part and you're going to see the sun. And I've never stopped appreciating like that. Cool coastal dewiness reminds you where you live. You know, you can smell it, you can feel it, but you can't see the ocean. And then it clears and it. And I'm grateful for it every time. Like my kids are annoyed by I'm. It's my favorite sun. It's my favorite sunshine day. Like, because the sky gets blue. The air is crisp. It's like it's so perfect and I live. This is where we live. We live in a fog of coastal fog.


Valli: [00:11:27] Yeah.


Carrie: [00:11:27] So again, a great analogy for the title of your book. So and so when you had all this on your, on your table with all of these papers and different stories and essays that you have written, can you share how you really thought about your chapters and how they were set up that collection?


Valli: [00:11:53] My process was kind of an interesting one. I think initially it would seem that it would have made sense to start in chronological order, but then somewhere along the way, I just left that whole idea and kept adding stories from childhood. Or as when I'm a newlywed or.


Valli: [00:12:20] Um.


Valli: [00:12:22] Because what that really and one of my editors was not such a fan of that. She's like, I think it would be, you know, here we are in chapter 15, and I'm talking about my marathon before I have kids, and I got hypothermia and went down. And it's a whole kind of signature kind of part in my running journey. She's like, I think if that came before, it would make more sense about some of the feelings you're having once you have kids. And I'm like, but for me, what makes sense is. I didn't learn the lessons in life linearly. And so I didn't want the story to read. I didn't want to say. For you to be reading it and go, oh yeah, that makes sense. Oh, it makes sense that you married someone in the military because your were military child, it's like, um. Because I think even talked about my childhood. Being in a military family comes somewhere in the middle, middle of the book, where I start with meeting my husband in the beginning of the book. So I feel like it was just organic how that kind of came together. It did annoy a couple people who wanted those, you know, to be more of an obvious, I shouldn't say, annoyed. But, you know, they wanted the metaphors to be more obvious. And I was like, but it hasn't been obvious.


Carrie: [00:13:53] And probably some of those stories, you didn't really know what the message was until you were later on and reflecting on it. You didn't know what that was in the moment. So it makes sense that when it kind of was clear to you to put it at that point in your life or the book.


Valli: [00:14:12] Yeah. And I would I would be curious. My daughter just reread the book this summer.


Valli: [00:14:18] Oh, did she picture.


Valli: [00:14:19] Of her sitting in our backyard in our pomp? What are the pompous chairs?


Valli: [00:14:24] Oh, yeah.


Valli: [00:14:25] A papasan chair. It's like those big cushion chairs, outdoor chairs. And she's sitting in it reading. And first she was like, mom, that's a really good book.


Valli: [00:14:39] Which I thought was cute.


Valli: [00:14:40] She complimented me, but she said, yeah, I didn't even realize like some of the the themes till I reread it the second time. Like it made more sense and I thought, oh, that's kind of cool. She knows me. And she still picked up on something different.


Carrie: [00:14:56] And that was one of my questions later on too, is did your kids read the book and what what was their reaction reading about themselves from your point of view.


Valli: [00:15:10] Yeah, so battle hasn't read it. I think he might have read his one chapter. That's like kind of a love letter to him. I left it on his bed with a little note and said, I know you're not going to read the whole book, but, you know, I think it was on his birthday. And I was like, but this is for you. Like, I don't know if he read it, but Harper was my first reader. She read it when I got my a proof copy, and she read it when it first came out, and then she just reread it. So like a year later. And her reaction, she's like, it's really weird to read because I know you, but you're you're you're a mom. But then you were like a you were like a person. You were a child.


Valli: [00:15:52] You were.


Valli: [00:15:53] A newlywed. Like I you know how kids don't really see them, their parents that way. And she's like, and you're talking about me. And it's weird because I was there, but I don't remember that. And so it was I think it just a lot of light bulbs went off for her.


Valli: [00:16:11] That's so neat.


Carrie: [00:16:12] Well, hopefully that's supportive. Yeah. Well Battle read it like when you know he's 35.


Valli: [00:16:20] Yeah.


Valli: [00:16:21] And if he doesn't want to read it I think he's not not reading it for any reason other than just. Hasn't made the time to do it, so.


Valli: [00:16:31] Yeah, but.


Valli: [00:16:32] She's more, you know, she's my writer, so I think. It was more interesting for her because she's. And she probably likes that she's, you know, the star of a book.


Carrie: [00:16:43] Well, throughout the book, you also write a lot about what you were so vulnerable and open, sharing different stages of, you know, grief and shock and just kind of coming to terms with things. What was. How was it to write about all of that, knowing that anybody can buy this book and read it?


Valli: [00:17:09] I think the only way you can publish a book that's so personal is you can't think about that. You cannot be self-conscious. Like sometimes. Now I'll think, oh my gosh, what if I decide I actually don't want to share that? I can't. That's out of the, you know, the genie's out of the bottle, but I just didn't think of it that way. I just was telling my story. And I'm not telling anyone else's story. I think that's the key is to stay true, to like my siblings see certain things differently than I do. My mom sees things differently. Sure, my husband would. My kids. I'm not very careful not to tell their story because I didn't.


Carrie: [00:17:58] Ask you about your husband. Did he read the book?


Valli: [00:18:01] I don't think he's read it completely either. I think his fear. Is it'll make him feel bad for. Are guilty for so much of the time not being there because of his military career. And I think he already feels guilty about that. And I think he fears that this will make him feel certain way. And I'm like, well, don't flatter yourself. It's not. It's not that much about you.


Valli: [00:18:35] It's about my experience.


Valli: [00:18:36] But that is a. That was a big part of what made it so hard. I was often doing it alone. Yeah, it was hard.


Carrie: [00:18:44] Yeah, well, I mean, putting those words out for other people who are going through the fog in their own journey, I'm sure is helpful to know that, hey, there's other people that have gone through the struggles but have seen the the light too.


Valli: [00:19:03] Yeah.


Valli: [00:19:05] I, I just love storytelling, I always have, I love reading and hearing other people's stories. And so probably the most meaningful thing that's happened besides having this for my kids, for them someday, is having people who connect in different parts resonate parts you would never expect, like the story I shared about being on my yoga mat and having a complete breakdown. I've had quite a few people say I have had that moment over something different, but literally come to Jesus moment on a yoga mat. And runners of the parts of my marathon training have resonated with runners. A lot of people about grief, of losing people because my dad and he. It's not a I'm not giving anything away, but he dies when he's 50 and that really shapes me. And people who have lost loved ones particularly young, that really resonates. And I love that because it just connects us.


Carrie: [00:20:18] Yeah, well I had I'm going to ask you if you have a favorite chapter, but I picked out a couple of points that kind of resonate, resonated and I thought would resonate with listeners too. So do you want to share your favorite chapter, or do you want to hear some of the things that I picked out?


Valli: [00:20:37] Oh, really excited and curious to hear what you have to say, and I would. I have some chapters. Like every once in a while I'll skim through it when somebody refers back to something because it's almost like it's a big blur. You would think I would know where every single word was, but like someone will say, I loved this part and I have to go digging for it, and sometimes I'll skim and. And there are still parts that make me cry. And I would say one of the most. Poignant moments.


Valli: [00:21:13] Um.


Valli: [00:21:14] There's a lot, but. I love the story I shared about my dad in the van, my mom backing into his car. With her custom van. And then I also love the description I use sharing me and my son snorkeling together and seeing that sea turtle and him putting his hand on my shoulder and giving me like a thumbs up that you've got this mom, because that visual is still crystal clear in my head. And now I have it in like an essay. So, you know, when I'm, you know, God willing, 9500 years old, that memory will still be there. But they're like your kids. They're all your favorites.


Carrie: [00:22:04] Okay, well, I have a couple of things that I thought I would ask, so. And I and I wrote something down. So I'm going to read a couple of things because like you said, you probably need to jog your memory. Right. So in chapter 16 it was titled I Am here. And you talk about throwing up the white flag and dragging yourself into a therapy room. And I think as women, as mothers, as caretakers, we sometimes think we need to carry all of that weight and be strong at all times. Can you share how you came to the realization that we, whoever is listening, also need to throw up that white flag in certain situations?


Valli: [00:22:48] I hope I have friends that write about it. They write about therapy. They write about depression, mental health. Like a lot of my online circle of authors and friends write a lot about it. And I think the more we normalize. These discussions that motherhood. Parenting is hard. A military. Being a military spouse is hard, like losing a loved one is hard. Having a child identified with something out of the ordinary that requires extra medical is hard and just being allowed and safe to say. It's hard. It's both. I think I do write about it can be both. It can be hard and amazing and it doesn't make you feel. It shouldn't make you. Anyone think you're a bad mother. You're complaining. You don't. You're not grateful. Um, I think therapy. I'm a huge fan of therapy. I am a huge fan for my kids, for my marriage, for myself. Like I think it's so even when things are good. To just reflect and make sense of things. I think it's just I think it's really healthy. So I went a long time in life thinking I just needed to suck it up and put on this. I don't know, perception that I was just so strong. And I had a moment. I'm not going to go into it, but where I was walking my dog when it happened, and I just felt the weight of what I had endured on my shoulders like. This has been hard. This has been really hard.


Valli: [00:24:43] We need to talk about the hard more. So people don't feel as alone because most likely someone else is going to throw their hands up and say, oh my gosh, me too. Like, I had a my first piece I wrote about military being a military spouse and deployment.


Valli: [00:25:30] Went.


Valli: [00:25:31] Viral.


Valli: [00:25:33] And.


Valli: [00:25:33] I could not believe how many people were saying, oh my gosh, me too! I've always wanted to say this, but I was afraid I was going to be judged. People were going to say, well, you knew what you were getting into or you're not, you know, you're not supportive, you're not patriotic, you're not this, you're not that. And it was like alm