CHC welcomed an outstanding audiologist to the team in 2017 with the addition of Michele DiStefano, MS, CCC-A. Ms. DiStefano came to us with expertise honed at Beth Israel Medical Center, Clarke Schools, and New York Eye and Ear.
A graduate of the audiology program at CUNY-Brooklyn College, Ms. DiStefano sees both children and adults at CHC with a focus on comprehensive diagnostic testing, fitting of amplification/FM systems, post-fitting counseling and Early Intervention.
Ms. DiStefano will receive her Doctoral Degree in Audiology this June.
In this Q&A, Ms. DiStefano, now an invaluable member of CHC’s audiology staff, reflects on her passion for audiology and the rewards of working with clients of all ages.
What inspired you to be become an audiologist?
I learned American Sign Language (ASL) when I was in 4th grade while helping in the special education class at my elementary school. This piqued my interest in issues relating to hearing loss and the hearing impaired community. I initially pursued master’s degrees in both speech and audiology at Brooklyn College. But eventually discovered that audiology was my passion.
What makes you passionate about your work?
I find working with both adults and families extremely rewarding. Being able to diagnose a child and guide the family through the entire process of obtaining hearing aids, ensuring speech therapy, and proper schooling so that the family can see a difference in how the child functions is a reward for me. The difference I can make in the life of adults with hearing loss by helping them communicate with family members more easily, become more social, and improve overall quality of life is special to me as well. I also love teaching audiology, whether in a classroom or supervising an intern.
How would you sum up your philosophy as an audiologist?
I believe I am here to help people with hearing loss reach their hearing and communication potential. I will exhaust every avenue to help a child hear and communicate. I treat the clients I work with, young and old, how I would want one of my family members treated by a professional.
What aspect of your work do you find most gratifying?
I find helping people the most gratifying aspect of my career, and life in general. My favorite part of being an audiologist is fitting an infant, child, or adult with hearing aids for the first time. Watching the reaction of the hearing aid user and parents or family members when hearing aids are first put on is so rewarding to me.
What do you find most challenging?
The most challenging aspect would have to be instances when parents or adult clients fail to follow recommendations to help them achieve their hearing goal. I can provide access to sound with hearing aids, but I cannot make the parents or caregivers use those aids consistently. As an audiologist I can only do so much.
How do you see the role of a pediatric audiologist evolving over the next decade or two?
I think we as audiologists are experiencing an amazing time for growth in technology for diagnostic testing and hearing aids and cochlear implants. It’s exciting to see how much more we can already do with amplification, with regards to wireless connectivity, to provide the most natural experience with hearing aids. Also, our ability to diagnose hearing loss in newborns accurately is improving all the time.
How do you stay so positive and maintain your terrific sense of humor?
Meditation. I have to say that I have always been the type of person to look to the positive since childhood. But through life experiences, I decided to choose to be positive. It is a conscious choice to notice all the good around you and be present even in difficult moments.