Shameera was born in October 1996. She was our second child. Both my wife and I quickly realized that she was not meeting her developmental milestones. Testing revealed that she had a rare chromosome abnormality called Partial Trisomy 18. In addition to having a significant cognitive delay, Shameera also had a mild to moderate hearing loss which was diagnosed at the age of two. She started wearing behind the ear hearing aids soon after. Then came the challenge. How to keep them on!
Shameera's developmental delays made it hard for her to understand that the hearing aids helped her to hear, as the hearing aids chafed, buzzed and were uncomfortable. It was a battle to get her to wear them. The minute we turned our back, Shameera would rip the hearing aids off her ears and we would spend hours looking for them. We turned to the audiologists at our local hearing clinic for a solution. They were aware of a few products that could possibly help so we tried a couple of them, but for one reason or another the recommended retention devices really didn't work. It seemed the best solution was to keep a constant watchful eye on her.
As Shameera got older, the situation improved. She began to wear her hearing aids on a more regular basis but we still had problems. As an active toddler, the hearing aids would fall off while she was playing. Sometimes she'd take them off because the hearing aids made the skin behind her ears raw and sore. At other times, Shameera would simply decide that she didn't want to wear her hearing aids and she'd hide them around the house.
Digital Hearing Aids
At the same time, hearing aid technology was evolving. Digital hearing aids were becoming the standard in hearing aid technology. We, like all parents, wanted Shameera to have the best so we upgraded from analog hearing aids that cost about $1500.00 to digital hearing aids that cost almost $4,000.00. Suddenly, the thought that Shameera could lose these aids became very frightening.
Then it Happened
Shameera was visiting at Grandma's house (6000 sq ft) and decided to take off her hearing aids. When it was time to go home, we realized that she wasn't wearing her hearing aids. We searched everywhere - upstairs, on the main floor, downstairs and outside. We asked Shameera numerous times what she'd done with them but she couldn't tell us. Those hearing aids were lost. Three weeks later, just when we had given up, the hearing aids were found. Shameera was going through her pirate stage at that time and had decided to bury the hearing aids in a treasure box hidden under a cushion in the hideaway sofa.
Ear Gear was Born!
That was the final straw. I decided enough was enough! I knew there had to be some way to keep Shameera's hearing aids secure and safe. After giving the problem a fair bit of thought, I came up with the idea of a colorful pair of spandex sleeves that would cover her hearing aids and essentially lock them in place. The sleeves would be attached to a cord and a clip. Now, if Shameera took her hearing aids off, they would hang safely on her body. Difficulty removing the hearing aids from their sleeves was an added bonus! In a nutshell, this new product kept Shameera's hearing aids more secure. They also looked great and reduced chafing on her ears. Shameera loved them! Our audiologist loved them and felt they were a valuable hearing aid accessory that others could use! EAR GEAR was born!