Published Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hearing expert: Get rid of earbuds

By MARIANNE THOMASSON

marianne@newnan.com

Throw out those earbuds immediately; they’re probably damaging your hearing.

This word came from Debbie Brilling, director of the Auditory-Verbal Center in Atlanta. She addressed the Kiwanis Club of Coweta County at its meeting last Thursday at the Newnan Country Club.

“I had an incredible little girl who slept through anything. At 18 months, we found that she was born profoundly deaf. They told us to use a hearing aid when she was outdoors so she wouldn’t get hit by a Mack truck, and to start teaching her sign language,” she said.

“When you sign, there are words missing. The state legislature gives $14 million to the two schools for the deaf in Georgia. When they graduate, they read at a third grade level, can’t get jobs and land on Medicaid,” Brilling said.

Her son was also born profoundly deaf.

“Ninety percent of kids with hearing loss are born of hearing parents. My son had hearing aids at six weeks. Like every 6-week-old child, he thought they were toys and he put them in his mouth. That’s when I discovered duct tape.

Language development was slow for her daughter.

“At age 3, there was still nothing from my little girl. One time we went to Red Lobster and, like all 3-year-olds, she played with her food,” Brilling continued. The child picked up some food and began pulling it apart and said, “Puulllll.” Brillling said, “I wish it had been ‘Mom,’ but I took puulll and ran with it.”

Both children started going to AVC an hour a week and now they are doing well. Also, now all infants are tested for hearing loss before they leave the hospital. Last year, 278 youngsters were found to be deaf through these tests, she said.

AVC is not a school. It is a center, Brilling emphasized. Children will attend for two to five years where they will be bathed in sound. Then they will be mainstreamed into kindergarten.

“We should not isolate these children,” she said.

Some of the children are fitted with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Hearing aids cost $5,000 and insurance doesn’t pay, Brilling said.

“Collect hearing aids for us. We can re-use them or trade them in for new ones,” she said.

The Kiwanis Club of Coweta County makes donations to AVC. “If it hadn’t been for you, my kids would be living in a silent world,” she said.

“More and more adults between the ages of 40 and 50 are suffering from hearing loss because of those concerts and boom boxes we listened to. Antibiotics can be detrimental to hearing,” she added.

And those ear buds that everyone has with their iPods? “They send too much sound for the ear drum” and can also harm hearing.

Brilling presented the club with a patch, certificate of appreciation and a thank-you letter from AVC.

In other business, President Brenda Rich announced that the next meeting, Jan. 24, will be a tour of the Cancer Centers of America.

-- Margaret Tyre was presented with her two-year pin.

-- Several members of the Peachtree City Kiwanis Club attended the local meeting to sell tickets to their pancake breakfast. The event is Jan. 26 from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. and they are expecting 2,000 people. Tickets are $6 at the door.

-- The club made $783 from pecan sales over the holidays.

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