As we hit the halfway mark of our 20th Anniversary Celebration, our newest Patient Hero Feature is double the fun as we celebrate brother and sister dynamic duo Jorge and Sandra – both Hearts for Hearing patients who work hard in their speech-therapy sessions, use their words in both English and Spanish languages of the home, and love learning new things at school or wherever they go. Don’t you love those sibling smiles?
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, and both participating in speech-language therapy at Hearts for Hearing. The siblings have an older sister, Perla, who is fourteen, with typical hearing. Mom tells us big sister is a great influencer and helper to encourage Jorge and Sandra’s listening and talking.
Jorge is Sandra’s older brother and the middle child of the family. Jorge has been coming to Hearts for Hearing since he was six years old. When asked to recall some of his favorite memories about Hearts for Hearing, he smiles and starts to reflect on the summer camps he’s attended here. Some of his favorite memories of camp were all centered around the space theme this past year. He loved going on the field trip to Science Museum Oklahoma and making galaxy slime.
As he talks, you can see his mom’s pride for all he is accomplishing. She recounts to us, “When he was very little, I would see other children his age making sounds and talking, and he wasn’t,” then quickly adds, ‘But now, he is doing great … he talks all the time … he sings in the car. I love to hear him singing!”
She tells us Jorge is doing well in school and has been recognized as Student of the Month. When we ask his favorite subject, without hesitation he answers, “Math.” His speech-therapist, Madison, quickly adds, “Oh yes, he always knows the answers to math questions and problems right away when we have our sessions. Math is his favorite, definitely, and he is very good at it.” So, what does Jorge want to do when he grows up? “Be a teacher” was his very quick answer, then he added, “a math teacher.” We know he will do whatever he sets his mind to accomplish.
Sandra is the youngest in the family. Mom is equally proud of her. She tells us both children work very hard practicing their listening and talking, and she sees the difference it is making for both. Her hearing loss was also identified early. Sandra began her hearing journey with hearing aids and then her hearing loss progressed. She received her first implant at two years old and the second one shortly after. She has been hard at work keeping up with big brother ever since.
While the family didn’t worry about or expect that Sandra would be diagnosed with hearing loss, when she was, the situation wasn’t nearly as scary. As mom told us, “We had experience, we knew what to do, and we knew Hearts for Hearing would help us.” She tells us her daughter is very smart, inquisitive, and loves learning, books, and school. Sandra will soon be a Bridges classroom student at Hearts for Hearing.
While Sandra is too young to know what she wants to be when she grows up, mom laughs as she tells us, “She is a girly girl … she likes fashion … she likes nails, lipstick, make-up … all the girl stuff.” The family celebrates how different both children are as they grow and are grateful for the special bonds the two will always share. Mom says they are so grateful for the care and services offered at Hearts for Hearing. She knows of children from her home country who are unable to hear, and they have no access to services similar to those offered here. “I am so grateful my children have the opportunity to learn to listen and talk … it makes me hopeful for their future opportunities.”
Mom tells us her best advice to other families, “Be patient and follow the guidance offered by your speech-therapists. Be grateful for all the words, singing, and noise from your children” Her final recommendation, “Celebrate their progress every step of the way.”
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.