Born deaf, Chapin High School senior defying odds

Published: May. 9, 2018 at 9:33 PM EDT|Updated: May. 10, 2018 at 10:41 AM EDT
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CHAPIN, SC (WIS) - A Chapin High School senior who was born completely deaf is overcoming the odds and inspiring those around her.

Addison Blackmon was born to hearing parents, but a genetic mutation caused her to have no hearing.

"I don't think my disability has prohibited me from doing anything," she said. "I live a pretty normal life."

At 18 months, Blackmon received her first cochlear implant. It wasn't until she turned 8-years-old that she would receive her second.

"There was a big gap in time between the two because the FDA was still looking at bilateral implants," she said. "I really didn't like getting the second one at the time because I was so used to having the one on my right ear."

Even before she received the second surgery, Blackmon said her parents enrolled her in therapy to help with speech and auditory skills. As a result, when she began working with a district teacher who specialized in hard of hearing and deaf children, she was light years ahead.

"She was in 3rd grade when we began working together and she was developmentally appropriate with her language," Leslie Harmon, a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, said. "You typically expect a language delay because up until they get that first implant, they haven't had any exposure to sound."

Harmon and Blackmon worked together until she reached seventh grade, practicing skills that would allow Blackmon freedom in school and in life.

"She never used her hearing loss as an excuse," Harmon said. "She's never hidden behind it and she's never played the card. She is who she is."

Sara Kimberlin, Blackmon's AP Literature teacher, said she knew from the beginning of the year Blackmon was a go-getter.

"She will work 10 times as hard as anyone else and she will keep carrying beyond what the grade is on the piece of paper," she said. "She wants to actually learn the material and not just get an A on the material."

In addition to excelling in the classroom, Blackmon has also taken part in sports. A four-year varsity cross country runner, she said her disability never got in the way.

"Don't let it prohibit you from doing what you want to do," she said. "Don't worry about it falling off, go play that sport you want to play."

Long relying on lip reading, Blackmon admits she's trying to shy away from the practice.

"I did it a lot when I was younger because it was really helpful, but now I'm trying not to because it's weird when you're conversing with someone and staring at their mouth," she said.

She plans to attend USC in the fall, entering into the Honors College where she'll study chemistry and anthropology.

She'll graduate from Chapin High School in June, ranked seventh in her class. She said if all goes well with her AP testing this week, she could earn enough credits to enter the university as a sophomore.

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