Tag Archives: Personal Listening Device

Monday 8th January 2014 – My First Lecture with a Personal Listening Device

Meh. That is how I felt today.

After a very busy few weeks, I was feeling mentally bedraggled and less than enthusiastic about my first Plant Physiology class today. It was going to be a long afternoon- a double assault of two-hour long lectures, detailed to the molecular level.

It was the ideal day for my first experience of a lecture aided by a Personal Listening Device.Thanks to my college’s brilliant Student Support system, the SAAS Student Disability Awards, and Ron from iHear Ltd, I have a Personal Listening Device on loan for a trial.

A great thing about my college is that they always have powerpoint presentations to go with the lectures. However, there is only so much I can absorb from the screen. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) has its name because the Disorder is all to do with Processing, not hearing ability. I have no hearing loss, but had been dreading this new topic. I worried that I would sit in the lecture theatre and hear everything, but not process, understand or remember it. Thanks to Johansen IAS therapy, my Auditory Processing abilities are 100 times better than they used to be, but I still struggle in some areas (I had pretty serious problems with Auditory Processing to start with!) . The testament to the improvements in my life because of Johansen IAS therapy is that I have managed to go to college in the first place.

Auditory Processing Disorder can be roughly summed up with the phrase,

“In one ear, Out the other”.

Someone with Auditory Processing Disorder can be listening with every ounce of concentration, but lose track of almost all meaning of a conversation because of background noise, or simply a bad Processing Day because of tiredness or stress. Camilla the Johansen IAS therapist once likened APD to listening to a conversation in a foreign language you can get by in, but are not fluent with. Except that for people with APD, what can seem like a vague, jumbled string of words is actually their own first language. Even if you manage to hear everything clearly and understand it, Auditory Processing Disorder can seem to wipe your memory clean, and by the next day the information is new again, still to be learned.

Personal Listening Devices like the one I had for a trial period (The Comfort Audio Digisystem iHear) are designed to cut out background noise by transmitting the speaker’s voice directly to the device-wearer via earphones or hearing aids.  

And it works!

After switching on the small black transmitter to my lecturer, and explaining what it was for, (he was very helpful and supportive) I turned on my receiver and put in my earphones. The difference from my other lectures before I got the Listening Device was stark. My lecturer’s voice was in my ears, clear and sharp. The background noise of rustling and chatting in the lecture theatre was very quiet, as if the sounds were coming from underwater, and no longer distracting.

The lectures were intense. I felt like we covered more plant biology in those four hours than I had learned over  year for Higher Biology. Thanks to the Personal Listening Device, I  was able to mentally keep up with the lecture. Cutting out the background noise took most of the effort out of listening and all my brain’s energy could be devoted to Processing.

I’m not saying that having a Personal Listening Device transforms me into an academic whiz. It doesn’t. I know that I will struggle with this Module. However, I expected to walk into that class, pay attention and learn nothing. Being able to take in spoken information from the lecture feels encouraging. Thanks to the Digisystem iHear, I have a chance to pass a difficult module which would otherwise be hopeless and impossible.

For more great personal listening equipment, please check out iHear’s website using the link below.

iHear Website

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Friday 21st November- Failure Cake

Last night’s trip to Glasgow to see The Pretty Reckless, Heaven’s Basement and Nothing More at Glasgow O2 was amazing.

I revised on the homewards train, but was still not properly prepared for today’s exam. It didn’t go very well. I was tired after a busy week, and a few commutes this week to Glasgow, one for last night’s concert, the other for band practice. My hearing was a bit wonky, mainly from tiredness. I’d had a few late nights.

I take responsibility that I’ve not been 100% dedicated to my course, but there’s also my Auditory Processing difficulties. I find it very hard to learn in class, especially with long spoken lectures. Because I probably won’t retain much of what is said in class (although the fact I can actually hear what my lecturer says is a huge improvement from school) I listen hard and take really good notes. This means that I do most of my actual learning outside of college. This makes the learning process twice as long.

On really good days, I can remember some of what the lecturer says, while taking notes at the same time.

This is part of the reason I’m getting a Personal Listening Device. My hope is that with reduced background noise, and the lecturer’s voice directed into my ears, the effort will be taken out of listening and concentrating in class. Then I can take notes and learn at the same time.  Ideally I will learn more quickly, have more energy, and also have more free time out of college, not having to that day’s notes as if they are an unfamiliar topic. 

My exam did not go well. I knew barely any of the answers. Some of this I blame on my Learning Difference. For the most part though, I can only take responsibility and blame myself.

Back at the flat I sat in my room, hiding from another flat party, eating what I like to call Failure Cake. It regularly cheers me up after tests which could have gone better.

I’m always trying to improve my writing skills for this blog, so here is a Haiku of how I felt.

Passed exam unlikely

Eat defrosted Failure Cake

Rock concert worth it.

Thursday 20th November- The Pretty Reckless, Heaven’s Basement and Nothing More Concert at Glasgow O2

At College I came in early to try out a Personal Listening Device. This piece of equipment should help me to listen in lectures. If all goes well, I will have my own Personal Listener to use soon. Even in the small Learning Support room, where we tried the equipment, voices sounded clearer, directed straight into my ears, minimising background noise. My Learning Support teacher said that she may also look into getting a Personal Listening Device for someone with ADHD. It may help him concentrate in lectures too.

In the afternoon my class had a Weed, Pest, Disease and Disorder identification exam. Pests, weeds and diseased plant material was numbered and laid out on tables. We had to write the names of each problem on an exam sheet.

Tonight was something I’d been looking forward to for ages! I went straight from college to Glasgow for a concert. Way back in the summer I had booked a ticket to see Heaven’s Basement at Glasgow 02. They are supporting The Pretty Reckless.

I had never been to Glasgow 02 before. Until Johansen IAS therapy helped me with my serious Auditory Processing Disorder, I was scared of loud noise and didn’t go to concerts apart from the classical events which were part of my music school experience. This was the third of fourth rock concert I have been to.

I still have some difficulties with Auditory Processing, which is why I was trying a Personal Listening Device this morning. Back before Johansen, everything was deafeningly loud, even fairly quiet sounds such as people talking could feel painful, and sound distorted. Without Johansen IAS therapy, I would never have learned to play drums. Instead of being my favourite thing, the loud sound would still scare me.

Hearing the words in songs for the first time was a revelation. I had no idea that songs were also stories. Music had so much more meaning and I could hear each instrument. It used to be so unclear, any vocals being a mush of vowel sounds with instrumental backgrounds blending together like runny paint. After seeing Camilla at Johansen IAS, individual colours and shapes started to separate from a mush of sound.

As soon as I can, I’ll post a before and after drawing of my hearing in the Synaesthesia section of this website.

I have always loved music, but now it is INCREDIBLE. Able to hear clearly, I found the kind of music I like. I love Heaven’s Basement. They were the first band I saw after my Auditory Processing Disorder got better. They played at Glasgow Cathouse, somewhere else I had never been before. It was an amazing experience.  

The line was huge, stretching all around the side of the Glasgow O2 and down the road. Inside, I had to put my backpack in a ticketed cloakroom. Only handbags were allowed in. My folders of plant malfunctions and baked potato dinner wouldn’t fit in a handbag. I remembered to get my earplugs out my bag just in time. Now that I have clear hearing, there’s no way I want to start losing it. Backpack ransomed for a  ticket, I found a balcony seat.

The 02 is bigger on the inside. As crowds filled the building, speakers played Audioslave. I like Audioslave. They were also being played at Paisley Bungalow just before our first gig, which was last week.  My parents might say that  going to another city to see a concert on a college night means that I’m not focusing on my education. This is musical education. I would love to play music for a living. Tonight was an amazing field trip.

Nothing More were first on stage. They were astonishing. Their drummer was amazing and at one point, three of the band played one bass guitar on a specially made stand. The sound of three people playing one bass (one of them using drumsticks) was incredible. They got a huge tune out of it, which sounded like multiple instruments. One of the coolest things I’ve ever heard or seen. Their music is out of this world. I’m really happy to have seen them tonight because I have a feeling that before long, tickets to see Nothing More may be quite expensive.

Heaven’t Basement introduced themselves to the crowd as “We’re a legless band from England!” They were a bit legless, but still brilliant. I love their music. They played the same songs I heard at their last amazing gig I went to. One of the albums I’ve bought where I like every song on it. Their music was loaded full of energy, at the end they looked a bit like they wanted get back on their bus and pass out.

The headliners, The Pretty Reckless, were great. They have a huge sound. Songs I hadn’t heard before and really want to hear again. At the end there was a long drum solo. Incredible to watch. What an end to the night!