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When Chris McLaughlin was 5 years old, he underwent surgery to address partial hearing loss from an ear infection and resultant scar-tissue tumors.
When he was 9, he lost most of his hearing after another surgery. Chris had been a “cool” kid with lots of friends and involved in sports, but when he showed up at school wearing hearing aids that in the technology-of-the-day resembled large music headphones, he felt different and was treated differently. Sports weren’t fun wearing a large headset with a speaker box, and he couldn’t hear without it. At first kids thought he was a rebel for wearing “music headphones” in school. Chris quickly adopted that persona. And then he began isolating himself.
When Chris was 11, his father passed away. His mother mourned alone in her room and shortly afterward turned her attention to dating. Chris coped with his father’s loss alone. And still dealing with being different, he took to keeping a book in his hand at school, or went to the library so that he didn’t have to socialize.
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