After six months of preparation, audiologist Meryl Miller opened her own private practice in Sandy Springs this March. For over a decade, Miller worked with Audiological Consultants of Atlanta, under the mentorship of its founders, Drs. Helena Solodar and Kadyn Williams. She has also been actively assisting the local Jewish community.
Miller, who has been providing monthly services at Berman Commons, recently became the point person on Congregation B’nai Torah’s T-Coil system (a wire-loop perimeter installed beneath the floor that lets anyone wearing a receiver hear audio going into the sound system), after another local audiologist, Rita Chaiken, passed the torch on to her.
Miller has particular expertise in a number of other recent technologies such as Earlens and the Lyric hearing device. Of the latter, she noted, “Since their [Drs. Solodar and Williams’] retirement I am the most experienced provider of this device in the state.”
Miller acknowledges that there may be some misunderstanding about what she does and explains that audiologists can be seen as a clinical counterpart to ear, nose and throat specialists (ENTs).
“[For me], a lot of it is the counseling aspect of it,” she said, “It’s helping people understand the process and what’s going on, because otherwise it’s very easy to be frustrated and to be disappointed by the process of hearing better because ‘hearing better’ is different depending on the situation.”
It’s important to Miller to help bridge that gap for people.
“If people can’t communicate, you watch how heartbreaking it is for them and their family, that they can’t share stories and share connections the same way,” she noted, warning that many people are hesitant to start seeing an audiologist.
“The average person waits 8-10 years from the time that they notice a hearing problem to the time that they do something about it. When you wait that long your auditory system just can’t perform like it should,” she said. “Our auditory system is like any other part of our brain, it really is use-it or lose-it. You stimulate it or it just slowly loses steam.”
Yet the initial stages of these issues are rarely easily noticeable, even by ENTs.
“A lot of times the audiologist is spending more time with them than some of the other medical professionals,” Miller said, “so sometimes we see things or get to know family members in a different way.”
That part of it is personally meaningful for her. “I think part of the reason I’ve been successful in audiology is that I like to connect with people,” she said, “I find that’s what brings meaning for me behind all of this.”