Nearly 3 out of every 1,000 children born in the United States have permanent hearing loss. Over 50% of those did not have any prenatal or birth complications. Parents with newly diagnosed children with hearing loss will have many questions and concerns regarding the nature of the condition, its effects on the child’s future, and treatment options.
John and Meaghan Baker learned of their son’s hearing loss before he was even discharged from the hospital. “We thought it was a fluke,” Meaghan said. Luke failed the Missouri mandated newborn hearing screening upon discharge from the well baby nursery at St. John’s Hospital. The Bakers did not completely accept that their son had a moderate sensorineural hearing loss to both ears until after the tests had been run.
Neither parent has hearing loss, nor does Luke’s older sister, Cassity. Luke was fitted with amplification binaurally by audiologist, Shari Norval. When the Bakers learned of their son’s hearing loss, Meaghan says Norval was wonderful with them because they did not know what to expect. She brought their attention to many community resources. Luke attended the Parent Infant Program for Hearing Impaired Children and graduated from the Hearing Impaired Preschool at MSU. Upon entering kindergarten, Luke did not qualify for speech therapy, a surprise and joy for his parents. Meaghan said, “I thought he would have to be in speech through school.” The resources have truly progressed Luke’s abilities.
Luke is now excelling academically in the first grade. His teacher uses a Frequency Modulated or FM system, which is a device that sends signals from the teacher’s microphone to his hearing aids. When discussing Luke’s hearing aids, Meaghan compared them to a pair of glasses. “He knows that it’s the first thing that goes on in the morning and the last thing to come off at night. It’s irritating, but helpful.”
Better Speech and Hearing Month
BHSM is an annual event that has taken place every May since 1927.The event was started to raise public awareness, knowledge and understanding of various forms of communication impairments including hearing and speech. With hearing loss becoming more common as younger people lose hearing due to noise exposure and baby boomers age, Better Hearing and Speech Month has become even more important as a means of reaching those reluctant to have their hearing tested (Cochlear Americas, 2011).