Lately I've been thinking about what school was like for me. When I was in (a public, mainstream) elementary school, I wore analog hearing aids. My teachers wore an FM system around their necks and I was always seated at the front of the classroom. Two times a year or so, I was called out of class to be taken to an audiologist and do some hearing tests. I don't remember anything about the tests themselves, which is odd because normally things like that stuck with me. In fact, my first memory is of my first audiology test, when I was four years old. I remember a stuffed animal in the top corner of the booth, adorning a speaker, and being held in my mother's lap.
What I liked best about trips to the audiologist was that the woman who drove us kids had a backwards facing seat in her car. It faced the rear window, and riding in it was a trip. I loved seeing how different the world looked "backing away" from it instead of approaching it.
I don't remember much about feeling as though I was disabled as a kid. The thought rarely entered my mind. I was a tomboy, who liked being outside, climbing trees and reading Goosebumps books. I had friends in the neighborhood and we would play in each others' yards and in the park down the street. I don't think most kids really processed that I was any different. A few times I was teased, but not that I can recall for my hearing problem. There was one time in fifth grade when a group of kids discovered I could lip-read - they promptly stopped speaking and only mouthed their words, until I had to get the teacher.
I do know now, looking back on it, that there were things I missed. Instructions in the classroom, and social interactions on the playground. As a child, though, I noticed none of it. It wasn't until I hit middle school that I felt self-conscious or that I was missing out on conversations. At the time, my parents looked into putting me into a charter school that had a program for hearing impaired (maybe Deaf?) kids, but decided that I should go to the public middle school. It was right near the house and my grandmother taught at the high school next door. I very much appreciated having the chance to meet kids in elementary school who would remain my friends throughout high school, but of course, I can't say how my life would be different had I gone to that charter.