11-year-old Hadley helped inspire her grandfather – and still does every day. At 3 ½ years of age, at a Mother’s Day Out class, Hadley referred for additional follow-up at a routine hearing test. “It is probably sinus pressure and fluid in her ears,” thought Mom and Dad. They felt certain her hearing was fine because they interacted with her and watched her relate with family members as a toddler. Still, Hadley had experienced many ear infections, and the parents wanted to be certain everything looked okay.
Jorge, 10, and Sandra, 3, share a special bond that goes well beyond their family of five ties – a sound connection if you will – as both children were identified with hearing loss as babies, both fit with hearing technology by age two, and both participating in speech-language therapy at Hearts for Hearing.
“In many cases, these campers – our patients – are the only children in their school classroom or friend group with a cochlear implant or some other type of hearing technology,” says Hearts for Hearing President & CEO Joanna T. Smith, who adds, “At our camp, all children – and many of the volunteer group leaders – rely on technology to hear. It is great to see all these campers interacting, having fun, and making friends with other students who experience the world just like them.” Smith said the iFund grant makes it possible to create such a high-quality camp experience for campers and expressed her gratitude to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for its continued support.
Rodri – as his family calls him – was born prematurely in Venezuela and spent the first weeks of his life in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and, according to his mom, survived thanks to oxygen support and antibiotics. She tells us, “We were told Rodri lost his hearing sometime in his first three months of life due to the antibiotics he had to be given to live.”
“We feel like he is aging backwards … everyday he experiences something brand new and exciting to him,” says Jonathan Vestal, son of our newest Patient Hero, Mr. Dan Vestal. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary year, we continue to highlight amazing Hearts for Hearing patient stories – and Mr. Vestal’s story is one that truly is incredibly special.
Josie was born at only 25 weeks and weighed one pound, eight ounces when she was delivered. Sadly, her twin brother passed away at 18-days-old. Thankfully, Josie was able to survive her tiny beginning, and she remained in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit for 143 days.
Ava was two when she was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss, and Lilly was diagnosed with deafness following her newborn hearing screen. Both sets of parents were independently referred to Hearts for Hearing and their little girls received their technology, audiology, and listening and spoken language therapy services through Hearts for Hearing. It was a teacher at their preschool who first introduced them and pointed out that they had something special in common, they each wear hearing technology.
Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma recently awarded Hearts for Hearing a generous grant of $200,000 to support its Newborn Hearing Screen (NBHS) programs across the state. The newborn hearing screen is a specialized screening performed shortly after birth to help diagnose hearing loss in newborns.
Adult hearing loss often occurs gradually. This can make it more difficult for people to realize there is deterioration or recognize to what extent their hearing has declined. Experiences associated with hearing loss can cause many different frustrations, even difficulties. Let’s review some of the common issues individuals with hearing loss may face and ways to help improve the quality of life for those with untreated hearing loss.
Hearts for Hearing was founded in 2003 with a mission of providing hearing technology and speech therapy services at no out-of-pocket costs to families with children who were born deaf. 20 years later, we are still teaching babies and children born deaf to listen and talk. Our services have expanded to include adult hearing care with offices in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Shawnee. Our team of professionals has grown from our original three people to 117 now. Hearts for Hearing continues to provide the first set of hearing technology and therapy to children at no out-of-pocket costs to families, and now includes Newborn Hearing Screen services, major research initiatives, Eyes Open Ears On programming, and its own 3D ear mold lab.