Children can feel different when they have to wear hearing aids and cochlears, but knowing that they are proud to wear these makes it all worthwhile

Freddie was our first child. He was born via emergency section at 35 weeks after a very difficult pregnancy. He was only 3lb 9oz and covered in spots. These spots turned out to be a sign of CMV (cytomeglavirus) a very common viral infection that sadly is unknown to most. It can cause many development and physical issues when passed to an unborn baby, one of which is deafness.

At two months old we found out that Freddie had moderate/severe hearing loss in his left ear and was profoundly deaf in his right. He had a hearing aid in his left from three months old and made good progress until at the age of three he started to slow with his language. He was assessed for a cochlear implant in his right ear December 2013. Something we had never even considered. And we got approval almost straight away and he was implanted in Feb 2014.

There can be some stigmas attached to wearing anything different and we always worried about how Freddie would cope and how he will in the future. But building his confidence with it now is definitely the key. A friend's little girl who also wears hearing aids didn't like them because it made her different to her friends. So I gave her some nail stickers I had at home to decorate them to see if it would make a difference - and it did. She loved them and loved the fact that she could have fancy designs and her friends didn't. I knew from this that there must be other children in a similar situation so I began my research.

I found there were already great websites that showed how to decorate hearing aids with crafts, but there weren't any pre-made kits that were simple to use and that would fully decorate devices.  I wanted to keep costs low so the kits were accessible to everyone. After a lot of trial and error - a lot of error - Lugs was born. I knew we were lucky that Freddie kept his devices on, but there are a lot of families struggling with children that don't wear theirs and I felt I had to help, as I knew I would want to find something out there if we were in their position.

 

The most difficult part was building the website. It took a lot of evenings after the children were in bed and many late nights! I have some IT knowledge but this was a whole different level. I was very lucky to have moral support from my husband and a few friends with basic IT knowledge to guide me through.

The best part about Lugs is the feedback and emails we receive. Knowing children are not just happy to wear their hearing aids and cochlears, but that they are proud to show them off makes it all worthwhile. And when I get emails from professionals to just thank me for what I am doing it just amazes me. Knowing that people all over the world are wearing the little kits that I make in my living room is unbelievable!

We just hope that we can help as many children and adults (as they have been popular with them too) as we can, so everyone who has hearing difficulties can have devices that they are proud to wear.

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