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Helen King: breaking the sound of silence

Wendy Johnson

‘I became an audiometrist to help people once again enjoy life’s special moments—help them to hear conversations clearly, enjoy kid’s laughing, listen to birds singing or the waves of the ocean hitting the shore. Silence is only golden when it’s a choice.’

Nothing pleases Helen King more than helping someone break the sound of silence.

After taking a major break to have a baby, later in life, she’s back in business. The business of helping people regain quality of daily living through her services as a professional audiometrist.

Helen King Hearing Solutions has just thrown its doors open for business once more in a brand new office in the medical precinct in Barton. It’s ‘once more’ because Helen operated her own audiometrist centre in Canberra for 14 years, which she sold to a national hearing company after settling into life as a mum.

Although it’s hard to pinpoint precise stats, an Access Economics study concludes that one in six of us has difficulty hearing. And loss of hearing is no longer just a ‘senior’s problem’.

‘We live in a world that is getting noisier by the minute,’ says Helen. ‘There’s clatter all around us—constant traffic, busy offices, cranked-up music. It’s all having an effect on hearing, including with younger and younger people. Baby-boomers, for example, need to be aware of the importance of addressing their hearing concerns earlier rather than later, unlike their parents and grandparents who typically allowed hearing loss to affect their lives for too long.’

Helen comes from a family of audiometrists. Her father was in the business for 40 years and her sister has her own hearing business in Tamworth. Helping is a big part of Helen’s personality and so it was natural for her to fall into a ‘caring’ profession.

You would think it would be relatively straightforward being an audiometrist. Someone has a hard time hearing. They visit a professional, get tested, fitted with a hearing aid and live happily ever after. Right?

‘Not quite’, says Helen: ‘Conducting hearing tests and presenting results is straightforward but dealing with the psychology of someone getting a divorce from their hearing, no matter what their age, isn’t. Clients go through the full range of emotions, including denial, anger and, finally, acceptance. Those around them need to take time to understand this.’

‘Some people get there faster and more peacefully,’ says Helen. ‘Some realise they have an issue and just deal with it. They might not like that they need a hearing aid, but understand they’ll live a better life with one. Others are forced into having a hearing test by someone close to them and if they’re not ready it can be challenging.’

But what if you’re a family member living with someone who has a hearing problem? You’re going bonkers having to constantly repeat yourself or yell when you speak. You’re fed up being blasted out of the living room by a tv turned up to the max. Shouldn’t you get pushy and drag the family member to a specialist?

‘It can be hard to live, work or socialise with someone who has a hearing problem, but it’s important to understand that the motivation to get tested or not, or to try a hearing aid or not, is complex,’ says Helen. ‘Some people don’t realise they’re disturbing those around them. Some are embarrassed to admit they have an issue. Some don’t understand that today’s hearing aids are high-tech, small—indeed almost invisible—and easy and comfortable to wear. Some have had a bad experience with technology they’ve tried previously that didn’t fit their needs. So it’s important to tread sensitively.’

Helen learned early to tell clients to test drive a hearing aid like they’d test drive a car they’re thinking of buying. ‘I tell them they have nothing to lose … if they’re not happy they can return it,’ she says. ‘I’d rather them take the time testing one than be forced into spending money on a hearing aid that ends up as an expensive drawer filler.’

Despite the ups and downs, Helen is rewarded by her profession. ‘I became an audiometrist to help people once again enjoy life’s special moments—help them to hear conversations clearly, enjoy kid’s laughing, listen to birds singing or the waves of the ocean hitting the shore. Silence is only golden when it’s a choice.’

Backed by her passion, Helen travelled some years ago with a group of volunteers to a remote, mountainous part of India, helping around 500 locals improve their hearing by fitting aids. And, today, she helps in other ways too, including as a committee member for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

the essentials

What: Helen King Hearing Solutions
Where: Medical Precinct, Barton Professional Suites, Suite 11, Level 2, 3 Sydney Avenue, Barton.
Web: hkhearingsolutions.com.au
Phone: 02 6162 4545.

Home page feature image of woman holding her hand near her ear from shutterstock.com

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson graduated with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, a few decades ago. She’s been living in Australia since 1995, having fallen in love with eucalypt trees and kangaroos. Wendy is passionate about Canberra and all the nation’s capital has to offer. She loves to write (about everything and anything) and owns her own pr and advertising business. More about the Author