Teenager Takes Hearing Loss in Stride

Aimee-Brunk-Hearing-CenterAimee Brunk remembers receiving her first set of hearing aids at four years old.

“It was a little overwhelming,” said the now 16-year-old AC Central High School sophomore. “Before, I couldn’t hear birds or even air conditioning. All of the sudden, I could hear cars rushing by and everything else.”

Aimee had been a frustrated toddler, throwing fits and not listening or speaking clearly. Her mom, Billie, knew there was something more than the “terrible twos” going on. After visiting a speech therapist and their primary care physician, she took Aimee for testing at the Hearing Center at Memorial Medical Center.

“They were so good with her,” Billie said about the audiologists at the Hearing Center. “They played games and put her at ease. I could tell they were used to working with kids.”

Aimee was diagnosed with mild to moderate sensorineural (permanent inner ear) hearing loss and fitted for hearing aids. While newborn hearing screening is mandatory in Illinois, hearing loss can develop later in childhood. Victoria Blount, senior audiologist, MS, CCC-A, and Jamie Purdy, AuD, CCC-A, have worked with Aimee for the past 12 years.

“We referred Aimee and her family to the Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC), an organization that provides services and equipment for children birth to age 21 with hearing loss or disability,” said Purdy. “Aimee met their criteria, and they have paid for both sets of hearing aids, batteries, ear mold tubes, hearing tests and all other hearing-related expenses.”

Today, Aimee sports a pair of funky colored hearing aids—the latest in a long line that started with pink and moved onto neon, school colors (red, white and black) and now her favorite color, blue. She doesn’t get much reaction from her own age group—it’s just another ear accessory—but senior citizens love to check out her hearing aids.

“I’m not even sure how they work, but older people always want to show me theirs,” Aimee said with a grin.

Like any typical teenager, Aimee loves to sleep in. She sleeps without the hearing aids, though, so her mom installed a cordless doorbell by her bed so that she can roust her for school.

“We have never looked at her hearing loss as a disability,” Billie said. “It’s always been something you learn to cope with. The Hearing Center has been wonderful through all kinds of situations. They bend over backwards to help.”

The Hearing Center at Memorial Medical Center is celebrating Better Speech and Hearing Month with free hearing screenings in May. To schedule your screening, call 217-788-3767 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.