Natara Aaliyah Lim

Be yourself, pursue your interests and love what you do

When Natara speaks, she is animated and her face and eyes light up revealing her cheerful disposition and bubbly personality. She enjoys her chosen activities which she elaborates on with little prompting. She does not let her disability stand in the way of her enjoying her life to the fullest.

Natara was born with a mid-range hearing impairment and diagnosed with it when she was very young. She recalled that even during her kindergarten days, she had regular and frequent check-ups to assess if her condition had worsened. She had ear surgery to improve her hearing and faced many restrictions. For example, she had to be extra careful that water would not get into her ears during her showers and this also meant that she was not allowed to swim unless she wore ear plugs. Even the simple joy of playing with toy guns was not pleasurable as the sound was jarring even when she wore ear plugs.

Although Natara did not have super happy experiences with the restrictions, it did not stop her from having a happy childhood. She was also determined not to let her disability get in the way of her enjoying school. Learning was very important to her so she was not embarrassed to sit in the front row like most kids would have been. In secondary school, she was not always able to catch what the teachers said but she was fortunate to have some good friends who would repeat the lessons to her. Others would help her with note-taking. Small acts such as these made the school journey more pleasant.

While her aural skills are not her strength, Natara has developed a strong interest in dance, theatre and the visual arts. In secondary school, she was exposed to a range of dance forms from Indian to Chinese classical dances and ballet. But her favourite dance form is based on K-pop and hip hop music. When she dances, she feels that she is able to forget her troubles and is free to express her emotions. Dancing allows her to enjoy herself as well as put up a performance for others to enjoy and she has continued to perform on various occasions, more recently at NAFA's Open House for prospective new students.

Natara enjoys going to museums and found dinosaur exhibitions particularly appealing in showing how the historical evolvement of dinosaurs and science of preserving the fossils could be so well integrated to create a captivating exhibition. Museum visits had piqued her interest in the curation and organization of exhibitions.

Her interest in dance and curation of exhibitions inspired her to take up Arts Management as a major at NAFA in 2018. Her decision initially took her family by surprise as it was not a subject that they were familiar with since family members had been trained in other fields such as law, engineering and business. Fortunately, she has close relationships with them especially her mother whom she regularly confided in and was always supportive. She eventually received strong support from them when she was able to convince them how much arts management appealed to her and that there were good job prospects in this field.

Natara's message to others with a disability is to be yourself, pursue your interests and love what you do. That's the secret for her cheerful and optimistic disposition.

November 2019



Natara shares her love for dance through an adaptation of Jennifer Lopez's "Ain't you mama" (Videography by Isabelle Lim)


Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, generally refers to a partial or total inability to hear either in one or both ears. It can be categorized by severity ranging from mild to moderate, moderately severe to severe, profound to total deafness.

Hearing loss can be divided into sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear (cochlea) is damaged. Conductive hearing loss occurs when the middle or outer ear is affected.


The following are hearing milestones a child should typically reach in the first year of life. Non-demonstration of these may indicate a possible hearing problem:

  • Most newborn infants startle or "jump" to sudden loud noises
  • By 3 months, a baby usually recognizes a parent's voice
  • By 6 months, a baby can usually turn his or her eyes or head toward a sound
  • By 12 months, a baby can usually imitate some sounds and produce a few words, such as "Mama" or "bye-bye"
As the baby grows into a toddler, signs of a hearing loss may include:
  • Limited, poor or no speech
  • Frequently inattentive, listlessness or unexplained irritability
  • Difficulty learning
  • Seems to need higher TV volume
  • Fails to respond to conversation-level speech or answers inappropriately to speech
  • Fails to respond to his or her name or easily frustrated when there is a lot of background noise

Hearing loss in children can be either congenital (generally means present at birth) or acquired (develops after birth). Congenital causes can be caused by hereditary and non-hereditary genetic factors or by certain complications during pregnancy and childbirth, including inappropriate use of drugs during pregnancy, maternal infections during the pregnancy (e.g., rubella or syphilis), low birth weight or a lack of oxygen at birth (birth asphyxia). Some children are also born with malformation of the hearing apparatus which includes problems with outer ear, the ear canal, the middle ear structures or the inner ear.

Hearing loss may also be caused by illnesses. Ear infections are the most common cause of this type of hearing loss in infants and young children. This loss is usually mild, temporary and treatable with medicine or surgery. A more serious condition is chronic otitis media which is a middle ear infection common in young children. Symptoms, severity, frequency and length of chronic otitis media vary. The condition may vary from a single short period of thin, clear, non-infected fluid without any pain or fever but with a slight decrease in hearing ability to repeated bouts with infection, thick "glue-like" fluid and possible complications such as permanent hearing loss.

Treatment/Assistive Aids

Early hearing loss can affect how a child learns language. This learning is believed to start during the first months of life. If hearing loss is diagnosed and treated early, this has shown to result in better acquisition of language. It is extremely important to determine the severity and cause of hearing loss in babies and children so that the appropriate intervention can be instituted. These children are then much more likely to be able to communicate and to participate in school and other activities.

Ear infections require immediate medical attention from a pediatrician or otolaryngologist (ear doctor). Additional specialists may be needed, such as audiologists to assess the severity of hearing impairment and speech language therapists to assess specific speech and language skills to provide remedial programs when they are needed.

There are options and aids for children and adults with hearing loss. Patients with conductive hearing loss may benefit from surgery. For patients with sensorineural inner ear hearing loss, they may benefit from hearing aids. Some children and adults with profound hearing loss may also benefit from cochlear implants. Profoundly deaf people sometimes use sign language and lip reading to communicate. There is also increased use of technology for communication, e.g., through messaging on mobile and computing devices.

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