A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Selective Hearing

In Hearing Loss, late deafened, Relationships on July 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Every so often when I’m having a great time with friends, somehow we get onto the topic of other people they know who can’t hear– maybe a parent or an elderly uncle or someone like that.  Invariably a comment will be made that this person can really hear.  He or she isn’t as hard of hearing as they make out to be.   They have “selective” hearing.  HAHA.


Selective hearing.

This never fails to make me cringe.

It’s not selective hearing at all.  It’s normal hearing loss.

Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but at that moment I usually feel the need to explain the speech banana.   How one of my low tones is normal and how I’m deaf in the high tones and that hearing aids can’t offer enough amplification so that I can hear s,f,t, or k– but that without hearing aids I can hear the m and b sounds.  And that this means if someone says, “Kate took the cake” I won’t understand, but if they say “Bob’s bringing mom home,” I will.  And also if there is a lot of background noise, like someone coughing while someone else is talking, I might not even hear that much.

The speech banana

If you are close to someone with hearing loss please try to familiarize yourself. The only thing worse than having hearing loss is being accused of pretending to have hearing loss.

And WHY would someone DO that anyway? Especially someone who never pretended to have hearing loss in the past??

  1. This is a great post, Kim. Hearing people have a hard time understanding why those with hearing loss hear some things and not others. Also, those with hearing loss can experience fluctuation in hearing, making for some inconsistencies that are erroneously labeled as “Selective Hearing”. There are so many reasons that lead people to believe those with hearing loss can actually hear better than they are letting on, but it just ain’t so!!!

    I love the speech banana diagram, it really takes the complicated nature of an audiogram and presents it in much simpler terms. The sentence comparison is great, too!! ~~ Michele

  2. Fantastic post Kim. Ditto to Michele’s comments

  3. […] Here is a post worth reading on Say What Club, which I’m sure many of you have experienced this yourselves. Click here to read more. […]

  4. Thanks for this. It’s definitely needed.

    I’m less patient than you are. Whenever I or someone else is accused of selective hearing loss, my reaction is not to say anything while I silently talk myself out of slamming his/her head on a desk/wall repeatedly until they too are able to experience the joy of “selective” hearing. I fear it’s less productive than your method though, so I’m going to try and do that in future.

    • I don’t know that my method is more productive. It bores people and puts a damper on their laughing, but I just can’t stand it when they start talking about selective hearing.

  5. “You only hear what you want to!”

    As an experienced non-hearing person, I wish that was true, because there are so many things that I don’t want to hear!

    Having a hearing loss is unique to each individual, and depending on the degree of the loss and the frequencies that are lost, we may hear something.

    The “something” we hear isn’t always what we want to hear. We want to hear what other people have to say—but not annoying noises in the background that drown out the spoken word.

    We want to hear little bits of news or stories from our family and friends. We want to hear what our fellow card players are bidding, or what number the bingo caller has announced. We want to hear TV and the punch line to jokes. Most of us want to hear our favorite kind of music.

    Kim’s brought the graph to our attention and explains so-called selective hearing. Sure it’s convenient to not hear everything all the time, but it’s lonely to not hear the people we’d love to hear. But, by golly, we keep trying!

    • Oh yeah! I had that accusation on many occasions. The person who said that the most to me was convinced that I could hear, I just didn’t want to listen. I wonder if he’s experiencing the ‘joy’ of selective hearing now that he’s older.

      It most certainly is lonely to not be able to hear and understand our friends and family’s conversations!

  6. Excellent post, Kim. You have really explained this situation well. With all the effort we hard of hearing folk put into listening, it can really hurt to be accused of selective listening. On the other hand, before I experienced hearing loss, I would not have understood about the difference in speech sounds.

  7. Amen to that! Thanks for posting the banana, I am going to save that to show others. The low tones are bad for me. Large crowded rooms are horrible for me

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more!!!

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