Do you hear what I hear?
Special to the Sky-Hi News
My name is Jessica Traher and I’m asking you to donate to Horizons’ 2015 Little Points of Light campaign. This campaign raises funds for Horizons’ Early Intervention and Family Support programs, which have changed my life and my daughter Raelynne’s life, too.
Raelynne was born a year and a half ago. She was the happiest baby—noisy and charismatic with a big personality. We had no idea she couldn’t hear until doctors performed hearing tests, which she failed. Raelynne was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears.
At three months, doctors at Children’s Hospital proposed cochlear implant surgery. Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that help provide a sense of sound to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. Implants don’t restore hearing or cure deafness but give useful representation of sounds and facilitate an understanding of speech.
Raelynne was fitted with hearing aids and cochlear surgery was scheduled for her first birthday. The implants are comprised of external pieces that sit behind Raelynne’s ears and internal pieces that are surgically placed under her skin. Electrodes are threaded into the cochlea to stimulate the auditory nerve. Implants provide sound signals to Raelynne’s brain, doing what the damaged parts of her inner ears cannot.
There are major developmental differences depending on when a child has cochlear implant surgery. Because Raelynne had surgery as early as possible, she shouldn’t have deficits as she grows older as long as we follow through with her speech and Early Intervention services.
The most important thing I can do is narrate our lives. I talk, explain, enunciate, proclaim, depict, recite, itemize, specify. We put words to everything we see and do. The more I talk, the more I’m feeding my child. Every moment—every syllable—is an opportunity to learn and progress.
Horizons’ speech therapist helps us set goals when she visits every two weeks. Currently, Raelynne is focusing on learning one word a week and I’m focusing on giving one-step directions. Raelynne’s biggest challenge is enunciation; mine is time and energy.
We also receive help from Horizons through a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing. She came to our medical appointments before and after surgery; she understands the anxiety of major surgery. She knows that with cochlear implants, children only succeed when parents follow up with speech and language services. Otherwise, implants become nothing more than a meaningless buzz.
Horizons’ Family Support program provides financial reimbursements that make my commitment to Raelynne’s hearing feel more like progress we can enjoy rather than a necessary sacrifice or setback.
Since her surgery, Raelynne responds when she hears her name. She imitates noises and watches mouths. While hearing loss is Raelynne’s diagnosis, we measure her growth with her speech. Will she be able to speak and function in a hearing world?
Please donate to Horizons’ Little Points of Light campaign. Your tax-deductible donation will help children reach their potential in the most critical time of development—the first few years of life.
Horizons works with families and communities to expand opportunities for individuals with, or at risk of, developmental disabilities. To donate, visit http://www.horizonsnwc.org.
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