When her daughter Róisín started preschool, Margaret Morgan sat in her car, parked just outside of the school building. “I was waiting for someone to call and say, ‘She needs you. She needs you.’”
The call never came. Róisín, now 4, is a social butterfly who loves everything about preschool — from belting out her favorite songs to dancing with her friends.
It isn’t the outcome Margaret imagined when she learned of Róisín’s severe-to-profound hearing loss at age 1.We were terrified, but after months of seeking answers to no avail, we finally felt like we were in safe hands.
“From the time Róisín was very small I knew something wasn’t quite right. She was the best baby; so smiley and so happy, but she wouldn’t always turn toward me when I walked into a room or react in any way to my voice.”
Róisín failed hearing tests at 3 months and 6 months of age in Ireland. “We were told not to worry and were referred to this person and that person. I wasn’t getting a definitive answer, and even though I was encouraged to relax, I was so anxious. I felt my concerns weren’t being addressed, and that I wasn’t being taken seriously,” recalls Margaret.
After several months of frustration, Margaret and her husband Conor decided they needed another opinion. …
In the U.S., roughly two to three out of every 1,000 children are born deaf or hard of hearing. This may launch families into unfamiliar territory as more than 90 percent of parents of deaf and hard of hearing children are not deaf or hard of hearing.
Some parents may have never met a deaf or hard of hearing person. As they begin the journey of raising their child, they may feel unfamiliar with the effects of hearing loss on acquiring language, communicating effectively with others, achieving academically and developing positive self images. There are a number of informed perspectives, resources, interventions, medical treatments and assistive technologies that can help children with hearing loss lead successful and fulfilling lives.
The Hearing Loss Experience Journal, created by the Boston Children’s Hospital Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program and the Department of Psychiatry, includes stories and experiences from children, young adults and families and represents the collective wisdom of families living with pediatric hearing loss. Here are some of their stories about growing up with hearing loss, using hearing aids and cochlear implants and more, in their own words. …
Editor’s note: The thing about clichés is sometime they are just spot on. “It’s small world after all,” sprung to mind when I heard about how hearing-restoration researcher Jeffrey Holt, PhD, met Roisin Morgan, an Irish toddler with hearing loss, on an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Boston. Read Holt’s recount of their meeting, and watch the reunion video.
On Dec. 16, 2015, as I boarded my flight from Dublin to Boston, there was a family with a three-year-old daughter. I noticed the little girl had bilateral cochlear implants.
As the family made their way to their seats, I noticed one implant had become dislodged and was dangling from the little girl’s ear. But it was a crowded plane, and before I could intervene, they were whisked away among a crowd of busy holiday travelers, anxious to be on their way.
Five minutes later, a voice came over the airplane public announcement system and announced a passenger had lost a hearing device and asked other passengers to keep an eye out for the missing device.
February is a pretty special month for Isabelle. She and her twin sister Jasmine celebrated their seventh birthdays on February 20. But February 4 belongs to Isabelle alone. “We call it her hearing birthday. It’s one year from the date when her cochlear implants were activated,” says Isabelle’s mother Vicki Labriola.
Diagnosed with progressive hearing loss shortly after birth, Isabelle was fitted with hearing aids at six weeks of age. But cochlear implants—surgically implanted devices that provide a sense of sound to the profoundly deaf or hard of hearing—were the best option. As her hearing loss progressed, hearing aids could no longer meet her needs. The implanted devices, provided in concert with services from Boston Children’s Cochlear Implant Program, could help Isabelle build language and communication skills.
Vicki and her husband Jason decided to proceed with the surgery in February 2014. They weren’t sure how it would work, because by the time Isabelle was scheduled for surgery, she was completely deaf in her left ear.
How did it work out? “It’s a whole different world from last year. Although Isabelle talked with us, she was very shy with other people. Now, she won’t stop talking. I think that’s because she is so much more confident in her hearing. She really lets people into her world,” says Vicki. …