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Jasmine: Racing Against the Odds

March 27th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

Jasmine is a young adult cochlear implant recipient who was born profoundly deaf due to Usher Syndrome.  She is currently training in track and field to participate in the Deaf Olympics in Sofia, Bulgaria.  She is also currently studying to become an audiologist.


What is the cause of your deafness and when did your parents first learn about your deafness?

The cause of my deafness is Ushers Syndrome.  Because I have an older brother who is two years older than me who is also deaf, I was immediately tested when I was born.  However, since it was during pre-mandatory infant screening days in Ohio, I was tested by an audiologist who was not used to testing newborns and misdiagnosed me, and I was sent home with my parents as a hearing baby girl.  Because my parents had been through all of that two years earlier with my brother, they started noticing some of the same behavior and when I was 3 months old.  They took me to Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio for more testing.  It was then that they were told I was profoundly deaf too.

Why did your parents choose to get you cochlear implants and teach you to hear and speak? Are you grateful for their decision?

My brother got a cochlear implant when he was 24 months old.  At the time he was the youngest recipient in our county.  Even with early signs of success for him, my parents said they still went back and forth on the decision for me to get my cochlear implant.  However, they ultimately decided to go for it, and I am so grateful that they did.  Having my cochlear implant does not cure my deafness but it does give me more opportunities.  I see myself as a deaf person who happens to be oral and uses a CI to hear.  Because of my cochlear implant, I am who I am today. and I cannot picture my life without it.  Each day, when I wake up and put on my cochlear implant, it feels like it is the first time I am hearing and I am always thankful and grateful.

What obstacles did you face while growing up with Usher Syndrome and how did you overcome the challenges?

I have been fortunate taht my vision has been pretty stable for the past few years.  I do have night blindness but manage fairly well with planning and occasionally relying on a friend in extreme situations.  My deafness is managed with my cochlear implant.  I have always has good results with my implant and it has been hugely important in my life.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

To date, my proudest accomplishments are making on Deans List during my first semester of college followed by being selected to be a part of the Deaf Olympics Track and Field Team and going to Sofia, Bulgaria this summer.

What aspired you to pursue in track?

My parents have always allowed and encouraged my brother and I to try various activities and find a sport that we enjoyed.  My father and brother were trying to convince me that I should do track because they thought I would be good at throwing.  At first, I was hesitant, but I decided to try it in  7th grade.  Once I tried it, I instantly fell in love with the sport.  I am the record holder for shot, discus and shot put relay at my old high school.  During my senior year in high school, I was chosen as the most valuable player on out track team.    It is a great sport.

Could you tell us in details about your exciting opportunity to race at the Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria this July?

I will be representing the USA on the Deaf Track and Field Team.  I will be competing in the discus and shot put events.  It will be my first time outside of the country, and I am so excited.  Unfortunately, deaf athletes do not receive financial support from the government, and we have to rely on donations and fundraisers.  I have an account on Razoo and would appreciate anyone who would like to make a tax deductible donation.

ThrowingWhat tips do you have for teenagers with hearing loss who aspire to compete in sports?

I have done so many different sports during my life, and my hearing loss didn’t stop me.  I would tell any aspiring deaf athletes not to fear participation in any sports just because they have a hearing loss.  For whichever sport they have a passion, they can most likely receive accommodations for hearing loss.  For an example, I have played basketball for years, and the issue I had with basketball was trying to understand my coach and teammates while I was on the floor.  Once I explained to the coaches that I didn’t understand what was happening, they created hand gestures to make sure I was involved and could understand plays.  My teammates would also help make sure I understood what was going on as well.  It is important for deaf kids to try any sport in which they have an interest because they should not let hearing loss to hold them back but use it to make thrive.

What aspired you to study audiology and what do you hope to accomplish when you become an audiologist?

I have always known that I wanted to be in the medical field for as long I can remember.  When I was in 8th grade, I was trying to figure out what career I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  All I knew was that I wanted to help others.  One day my mom suggested audiology.  I thought about it and I realized it’s what I wanted to do ,and it would be perfect fit for me. I have since decided that I want to be a pediatric audiologist.  I have been so fortunate to have a great audiologist and a great support system.  Because I have been given opportunities, I want to give back to the deaf and hard of hearing community by helping other children to be successful.  I also believe that I will be able to relate to my patients because I have been through the same journey that they will currently be going through because we are traveling the same journey.


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