Ingrained Habits

Chloe and Denise at Fidos For Freedom on the training floor…

Being a hearing assistance dog, Chloe has been taught to do automatic retrieves in case I drop something I do not hear. She loves to do directed retrieves as well, but the automatic retrieve is something that is more ingrained for her. It is literally automatic… like 2nd nature, and most definitely an ingrained habit.

This week Chloe and I are testing 3rd graders for CCA with a national standardized test. Want to know something I discovered? Third grade students drop a lot of stuff.



And never notice.

Chloe DOES notice. Even though I am not the one who dropped it, her first impulse is to even break a command like a down/stay and go and get it for me. During the first test, I had to remind her a couple of times to stay put out of harm’s way and let the child get the pencil, paper, or water bottle lid that fell to the floor under the desk.

It was really tough for her. Automatic retrieves are a default setting for her. On the trip home, I thought about my morning and Chloe’s responses. What is MY default setting? What ingrained habits do I have?


Geesh. Don’t you hate reflective moods? (GRIN) It was a 45 minute trip home, so I had nothing better to do. Stuck in traffic on the way into town this morning meant I had already listened to two full hours of Christmas music. I couldn’t take anymore of that! So I decided to reflect!

Ya know? I’m not proud of all of my default settings. Some of them are rather negative.

1. As long as I’ve been a “late-deafened” adult, or hard-of-hearing for those of you who prefer that, you’d think I’d be use to people getting frustrated at having to repeat things for me from time to time. If I get a long-suffering sigh, I’m usually ok. No reaction and I realize it really CAN be tough to have to repeat something so often… especially if we are in a noisy environment. If I get an eye-roll or condescending attitude, however, I want to strangle the life out of someone! And well? Murder is still a crime in the U.S. (sigh). So, yeah! I’ve got to work on that default setting. There is an operational procedure that is much more beneficial to me. Patience, understanding, empathy, and even forgiveness may be some things I need to make sure are activated when someone’s response to repeating themselves is not what I’d hope.

2. When I’m tired, I’m a monster and don’t care. Ask my family. A cranky Denise is a mean, critical and onery Denise. I try so hard not to be, and now that I’m in my 40’s I certainly succeed some. But… ideally? I need to make sure I get enough rest. I plan my sleep schedule like it’s something important. Now… I don’t exactly have it entered on my Google calendar, but folks? I make sure I get plenty of rest. I try to make sure I always get at least eight hours of sleep a night. And you know what? As a person with a hearing loss, I have learned that if I can get nine hours of sleep I am really at my best. Hearing takes work. At the end of a really long day of conversations, meetings, and communication… my brain feels like mush. If I’m not getting enough rest, I get to that “mush” place much earlier in the evening.

3. The sky is NOT falling. I’m a bit of a pessimist. Some who know me well might argue that I’m a wee bit more than a “bit” of a pessimist. I work on that a great deal. I consider it a very poor default setting. When something bad happens, I tend to believe that something else bad is going to happen in addition to that first “chunk of sky that clunked me on the head”. I will likely have to work on changing this default setting the rest of my life. It is THAT ingrained. I have to work on being more optimistic.

4. Agree to disagree. I’ve actually changed in this regard to some degree. In the past, I use to think that two people could agree to disagree, but then I’d have to STOP LIKING THEM! (When this is your spouse… that is not altogether a good thing!)  Sure! I’d think, “Ok… we can’t agree here, so we will just agree to disagree!” But then in my mixed up thinking, because they were WRONG (grin), we weren’t “ok” until they came around to my way of thinking! Whew! At least there has been some major growth in this area. I am actually good friends with numerous people whom I do not see “eye to eye” with on every little thing.

What are your ingrained habits? Especially those that may pertain to an acquired disability? Are they positive or negative? More important, are they things that you can change?

Something else I discovered today: Chloe thinks 3rd grade boys have an amazing speech pattern. After all, they don’t actually use WORDS. They use sounds! For example:

“So… I threw the ball and it went WOOOOOSH, right by my head! It clocked me right in the head, BONK! So I started yelling for mom… “AAAARGH” I could hear her coming down the stairs, CLUMP, CLUMP, CLUMP. I could tell she was mad!”  I think Chloe would like it if I talked a little bit more like a 3rd grade boy!

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

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