Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
During the month of September, Healthy Hearing will be featuring different bloggers in the hearing loss community. From those across the ocean to parents of children with hearing loss, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top blogs and resources available to you! Today’s article is part of our ‘Flashback Friday’ series, and reconnects with a blogger we featured last year!
Shanna Groves learned at an early age that the written word was her friend. After she was misdiagnosed with normal hearing as a child, Shanna relied on the written word as her primary way of getting information.
Shanna’s progressive hearing loss was finally diagnosed at age 27 after the birth of her first child. She admits her first reaction was to dismiss the diagnosis – even though it explained many of the problems she’d been struggling with her entire life. Two years later when her son began to talk, Shanna accepted the diagnosis and was fit with her first pair of hearing aids.
“I grew up thinking it was my brain and not my ears,” the pretty blond-haired, blue-eyed mother of three, said. “I had to get the written word – that’s how I learned. I realized I was going to have to work harder if I was going to do well in school and in life.”
Today, Shanna is the published author of four books and writes about her journey with hearing loss on her blog, LipReadingmom.com. “I am Shanna Groves,” she states on her website, “but you can call me LipReading Mom.”
Shanna’s first two devotional books, A Cup of Comfort for Sisters: Stories that Celebrate the Special Bonds of Sisterhood (2005) and A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers: Daily Inspiration for Christian Mothers (2007), were published on the heels of a successful newspaper journalism career in Oklahoma City. Her first novel, Lip Reader, won the 2008 Top Prize in Fiction at the Heart of America Christian Writers Awards. Confessions of a Lipreading Mom followed in 2013. Both books were cathartic – Lip Reader was her way of understanding and accepting her own hearing loss while Confessions of a Lipreading Mom allowed her to explore her bouts of depression, grief over the loss of her younger sister and realization that she’s not a typical mom
Shanna began blogging in 2009 to promote Lip Reader and discovered it was a great way to communicate openly with her readers. She launched LipreadingMom.com in 2011 – the title a homage to the skill she learned as a child to cope with her undiagnosed hearing loss. It’s there that she shares her experiences as an author and mom with hearing loss and dialogues with her readers.
“My goal is for readers who have a hearing loss to know they are not alone, that there is hope and joy to be found in sharing our stories,” she said. “I know in my heart with conviction that I’m a 3-dimentional Shanna Groves human being and if I don’t share the other aspects of my story, then I’m not telling my story.”
One of the ways she engages readers is with her Show Me Your Ears campaign, which celebrates its second anniversary this month. In the campaign, readers can submit photos of their ears, hearing aids and cochlear implants.
“I began Show Me Your Ears as a bold way of embracing my own hearing loss,” she said. “The first dozen photos were submitted by my close friends and family members. In two years, the campaign has grown to include more than 300 photos submitted by individuals from around the world.”
Yet, if there’s one aspect of Shanna Groves that shines in all of her work, it’s her role as mom to her three children. Her 13 year-old son is in 8th grade, her 10 year-old daughter is in fifth grade and her six year-old son is in first grade this year. She freely admits she’s hyper-attentive – she’s the designated watcher for the kids in the cul-de-sac and she limits her overnight speaking engagements to those which allow her to bring at least one family member.
“I’m a full-time, hands-on mom,” she said. “I made the mistake of traveling without my family when I was promoting Lip Reader. My family started to come unglued when I didn’t involve them. I’ve had to turn down some really amazing opportunities because I now insist upon involving my family and it wasn’t allowed.”
Today, she can see how each life experience has been part of a bigger picture – becoming skilled at lip reading at an early age, choosing a Communication major, learning basic sign language skills from deaf education majors in college. All of it was designed to help her become a better mom and advocate for the hearing impaired.
“I consider it a blessing and honor to be part of spreading hearing loss awareness,” she said “It’s so important to embrace what we have – don’t hide, don’t bluff – it’s who we are. And it’s all good.”
In honor of blogger month, we want to celebrate our awesome followers! We’re giving away a set of Shanna Grove’s books, Confessions of a Lipreading Mom and Lip Reader, and a special autographed memento to a very lucky winner! For a chance to win, comment below this article using your Facebook account and tell us which book you can’t wait to read and why!
For a second entry, participate in the Show Me Your Ears campaign by snapping a photo of your ear (even if you don’t wear a hearing device or implant), uploading it to your Facebook and tagging Healthy Hearing!
A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, September 19!