JENNA CUNNINGHAM

Did you know that hearing loss currently affects more than 50 million Americans?   Most Americans associate  hearing loss as a condition that only affects older people; however, with the increased usage of ear buds, hearing loss is growing in the younger population.

Hearing loss can be caused by several different reasons:  birth defect, exposure to loud noises, medications, trauma, ear infections, and normal aging process.  Hearing loss has a huge effect on developing speech and language, which ultimately involves communication.

Jenna Cunningham, a 7th grade honor roll student at Lincoln Middle School, has lived her life with a hearing loss.   Jenna was diagnosed profoundly deaf as a toddler and later received cochlear implants(CI).  Cochlear implants are electronic devices that bypass the damaged portion of the ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve.  CI’s provide Jenna with access to speech and environmental sounds; however, she has had to learn where each sound or word was coming from and the meaning of each.

There are still certain situations that make hearing difficult for her … for example, background noise or music in a restaurant while trying to listen to table conversation.  Needless to say, the cafeteria at school is not Jenna’s favorite place!

Even though hearing loss may put some bumps in the road for Jenna, she does not let it stop her from doing what she wants to do.  Jenna loves riding horses, spending time with her parrot, drawing, reading, camping, swimming, and watching movies.  Jenna also helps with the Alexander Graham Bell Association (AG Bell).  AG Bell is a non-profit organization that provides support and resources for hearing impaired children and adults.  AG Bell promotes spoken language.  For more information on AG Bell, you can visit agbell.org.

Hearing loss can be treated, but not restored.  So protect your hearing by wearing hearing protection when around loud noises; turn down the radio and TV volume or anything going through ear buds; limit your exposure to loud environments (concerts, movie theaters, power tools, motorbikes, etc.).  If you suspect you may have a hearing loss, make an appointment to see an audiologist.