My New Hero

Iron Man with 5 year old Anthony Smith

Iron Man with 5 year old Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith is five and is hearing impaired.  One day he refused to wear his hearing aid.  “Why not?” asked his mom, Christina.  “Super heros don’t wear hearing aids.”  “Of course they do!” she lied, as any good mother would.  He put them in his ears and after he went to school she scrambled in a panic Googling super heros and hearing aids.

What happened next is truly impressive.

She contacted Marvel Comics about her son and his dilemma and they partnered with Phonak to create a super hero who wears hearing aids, giving him Super Hero ability to hear others in need of help.

Now that’s impressive.  I spoke with her recently about this.  Here is a brief excerpt from our conversation:

“How did this whole Super Hero thing come about?”

“Anthony has hearing loss due to a genetic disorder and although there was great technology out there with blue ear hearing aids, sometimes is a struggle to get the kids to take the leap with you.  One day he refused to wear his blue ear.  I was baffled and asked him why.  ‘Mommy, Super Heros don’t wear hearing aids.’  So I did what any mother would and I lied.  ‘Of course they do!’  ‘OK.  Which one?’ ‘Oh no,’ I thought and then said, ‘Captain America.’  ‘How do you know?’ I had to pull out all my Mom Mojo to pull it off but I convinced him saying, ‘Because I know it’s under that mask.’  And then I really had to scramble because I knew he would call me out on it.”

Anthony with Blue Ear

Anthony with Blue Ear

“What did you do?”

“I Googled Super Heros with hearing aids and then finally sent an email to Heros @ Marvel Comics.  I told them Anthony’s dilemma and said I knew this email would probably end up in a spam folder but fortunately it was read by someone who also had a young son and he was able to get two artists to create the Super Hero with hearing aids.”

Super Hero Hearing Aid

Hearing is Believing Poster

“That’s incredible!   So Iron Man presented the picture of the new Super Hero to Anthony.  How was that?”

“It was awesome.  He was just staring in awe at Iron Man and he got an Iron Man costume.  It was presented to him at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York City, in front of a room full of students with hearing loss and it was magical to watch.  Iron Man really resonates with people.  The Educational Hearing Loss Tool is being used in pediatric offices and some schools are even using it as an anti-bullying too.”

“That’s phenomenal. How have hearing aids helped Anthony?”

“His hearing loss prevented him from communicating.  He was not acquiring language.  But once he got his hearing aids suddenly this amazing personality began to emerge.  It can be hard for a kid to wear them, but now he can say, ‘these help me.  They help me hear better.'”

“Kids will ask about anything, but once their question is answered they move on.  What message do you have for other hearing impaired kids and for their parents?”

“All these kids are heros.  We know more about hearing loss, because that’s what our kid is dealing with, but everyone has their own struggles.  Advocate for your kid.  Hearing loss is sometimes called the unicorn of special education because the kids require such specific help.  Get as much support as you can.  Find your local providers the earlier the better.”

Iron Man with Anthony at Center for Hearing and Communication

Iron Man with Anthony at Center for Hearing and Communication

“Well, Iron Man is a hero but I just want to say Mom to Mom you’re a hero too.”

“Oh, thank you!”

“It’s amazing what you went through for your son and how so many kids will be helped now because you were willing to fight for your son and share his story with us.  Thank you for speaking with me today.”

Here is a video clip of Iron Man presenting the poster to Anthony at school.

If you ever said to yourself, ‘What can I do?  I’m just a normal person,’ Christina’s story answers the question for you:  Sometimes normal people can become Super Heros too.

Lisa (c) 2013 Lisa Traugott.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.

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