I wrote this email recently to an audiologist. Maybe it can help you find the words to describe something you struggle with too.
Hi Dr. ***,
I’ve been trying to find an audiologist to help me because I have a hard time understanding people when they talk. My dad suggested I talk to you about it and I really appreciate that you’re willing to take the time. I figured I’d start out by explaining what I struggle with and why I think an audiologist might be able to help.
I’m generally able to understand people okay until the environment becomes even mildly noisy. When that happens, I feel like I correctly understand around half the words anybody says. I can get by most of the time because I’ve gotten very good at filling in the blanks from context clues. If I don’t have context to help me fill in the blanks, it’s pretty hopeless. When I listen to music with English lyrics, it sounds like a foreign language because I can’t depend on the cadence or tonality of everyday speech to clue me in to what the singer is saying.
I regularly have to ask people to repeat themselves, and earlier this week I had to ask someone to write down what they were trying to tell me!
My general sense is that I don’t struggle to hear sounds, but rather struggle to distinguish words from background noise. It can also be difficult to translate the noises that make up speech into actual words in my head. If there’s such a thing as dyslexia for spoken words, I think I’ve got it.
I don’t think that I have hearing loss. I’ve had normal audiograms throughout my life. I think my most recent one was 2016 with you! I also don’t think I have any language development delays. I enjoy reading books and professors always described me as a strong writer.
I think an audiologist can help because I’ve read experiences of people with similar difficulties who benefited a lot from hearing aids. They usually describe “low-gain” hearing aids which end up easing the burden of picking out words in a cluttered soundscape. They also describe them as being helpful for both filtering and masking irritating sounds. As somebody who is easily overwhelmed by mundane noises, that alone would be life changing!
I want to do something about it because I’m tired of struggling every single day. I’m tired of all the work it takes to keep up with normal conversations. I’m tired of doubting myself or feeling down on myself when I can’t understand people.
Do you think I’m looking in the right direction wanting the help of an audiologist and hearing aids? Is it something you’d be interested in exploring with me, or do you know of any resources I should look into? Let me know if there’s any more information you need. I left out a lot for brevity.
Thank you again for taking the time,