Hearts for Hearing
It’s so easy to take our abilities for granted. For the majority of us, we don’t question what our senses do for us—we touch, taste, see, smell and hear the world around us from the moment we are born into it. But for some, these abilities aren’t something they are born with.
Reacting to Sound
When Amanda Watson gave birth to her daughter Nora eight years ago, she and her husband didn’t anticipate any problems. “You never expect anything to be wrong with your child,” she says. However, Nora didn’t pass her newborn hearing test and was referred to the nonprofit Hearts for Hearing for further testing when she was four weeks old.
Hearts for Hearing then performed an automated brain response test on Nora. “They put electrodes on her head and monitored how her brain reacted to sound,” explains Amanda. In this way, Nora’s hearing loss was determined and she was fitted with hearing aids at six weeks old.
Further genetic testing revealed the cause of Nora’s hearing loss—a gene was found which causes the small hairs inside the hear to not move as much as they should, causing them to not collect sound as they should. Nora’s mild-to-moderate hearing loss has now been completely corrected with hearing aids, and she continues to receive regular appointments with an audiologist to monitor her hearing.
Six years later, when Nora’s younger brother Klein was born, there was no question as to how to handle the situation when he failed his newborn hearing test. “We took him to Hearts for Hearing and he was diagnosed at less than one week old.” His slight-to-mild hearing loss is also completely corrected through hearing aids.
Both children are improving and showing progress comparable to their peers. Amanda credits Hearts for Hearing with her children’s ability to work through their hearing loss. “Early intervention is the only reason we are where we are today. There’s no way Nora would be where she is if we hadn’t been referred to Hearts for Hearing.”
It’s clear that this organization has had a big impact on the life of this family, beyond standard medical care. “Our speech therapist is now like a part of our family,” said Amanda. “I will forever be indebted to Hearts for Hearing.”
Making A Difference
Hearts for Hearing has been providing this service to the community since 2003, growing in size and services offered each year. What started as a program to fund the initial set of hearing aids for children with hearing loss in Oklahoma has grown to be a comprehensive health program for children and adults.
Last year, Hearts for Hearing served over 2,000 children and nearly 800 adults across Oklahoma, providing comprehensive diagnosis, funding and financial aid for hearing aids, cochlear implant support, comprehensive audiological testing, therapy and education for individuals and their families, and so much more.
The organization’s core values drive their mission: families should be given all options for communicating with a child with hearing loss; babies who are born deaf can typically learn to listen and talk; cost should not limit ability; good outcomes aren’t good enough; adults with hearing loss should have the opportunity to hear again.
“The opportunities for children born with hearing loss today are truly miraculous,” says Rachael Odor, Hearts for Hearing Marketing Coordinator. “The fact that a child born deaf can learn to listen and talk, be mainstreamed in their neighborhood school and reach their full potential in life is a dream come true for parents. The gift of a child being able to listen and talk with their parents is available to many more Oklahoma families just like Amanda’s.”
To learn more about Hearts for Hearing, visit heartsforhearing.org.