Finding Confidence & Helping Others: Dominique’s Story Of Growing Up Deaf
Dominique Smith grew up with hearing loss, but because of her amazing family and friends she sometimes forgot she even had to wear cochlear implants.
Having a support group around helped her know that she had nothing to worry about when it came to her future or learning abilities.
“Growing up with hearing loss in some ways is very much similar to someone growing up with the ability to hear.” Dominique says that the only difference would be “the amount of responsibility.”
She had to learn to be responsible for herself at a younger age than her friends, as she had to remember to bring batteries for her battery holders and remember to charge her rechargeables every night. She says eventually it became just another routine in her day.
“It takes time and practice to take care of everything in order for you to hear properly, but it’s my normal now, so it doesn’t bother me as much as some may think.”
Dominique’s Greatest Achievement
When we asked what her greatest achievement was, Dominique said simply: the improvement of her speech. She doesn’t notice it herself, but is always happy when people tell her how much she has improved since she started in CCHAT.
“It’s always great when someone tells you they can see better clarity in your speech - even when you don’t notice it!”
Dominique credits her time at CCHAT as a real boost to her speaking skills and confidence.
Dominique’s Time At CCHAT
During her years as a student at CCHAT, Dominique says her experience really helped her develop her ability to talk without anybody even knowing she was deaf. Dominique earned her high school diploma at Laguna Creek High School and now works at CCHAT as an instructional aid for the toddler class.
“I used to attend CCHAT as a student. I started in the toddler class with Stephanie when I was about 18 months old.”
She learned how to manage school by writing down what homework she had, what projects or assignments were due and by keeping a regular schedule for her days in school.
CCHAT is a unique opportunity for young deaf or hard of hearing children to be able to develop their speech and build connections with other hard of hearing people.
“The unique thing about CCHAT is how intimate it is. The teachers and the speech therapists take the time to get to know you and your whole family. They do everything in their power to help the students and build a beautiful connection with them.”
Dominique remembers seeing herself and fellow students learn to adapt to life as a hard of hearing individual. During our talk, she spoke about her time in first-grade at the CCHAT center and the struggles she and other students encountered when playing sports.
“We had many times where our hearing devices fell off when we used to run, flown off when we tumbled or swung across the room - but we all eventually figured out a way to work it out so it didn’t stop or limit us from playing the sport(s) we love.”
The CCHAT center helped Dominique learn to live happily with her hearing loss and helped her to speak clearly and confidently to people as if she wasn’t deaf at all.
“They are the most compassionate, kind and hardworking people I know.”
She now feels like she’s come full circle, helping the next generation of deaf children, just like her class leaders did when she was that age.
Dominique’s Advice To Other Students, Parents & Friends
Dominique stresses how important it is to treat deaf students the same as any other kid their age.
“If a parent is constantly picking up their child, their child will never learn to walk on their own or be their own individual. At first, they will fall - but they get back up every time until they find their own way to get there.”
She advises students to keep going and not to give up and that they “should be able to do what every other kid is doing” and learn all there is to learn. Some kids may need to be pushed in the right direction or be given more time than others when it comes to learning certain aspects of the program, but this is only natural.
Dominique’s time at CCHAT has given her life long friends, helped her through education and given her the confidence to live life to its fullest. Dominique plans to go on to teach students of her own how they can work through their hearing challenges and learn to live their lives exactly the way they want to.