Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Hearts for Hearing written by Amanda Watson, who has had personal experience with this non-profit in Oklahoma City. We hope you are encouraged by her story.
Everything was ready. The bags were packed, the nursery perfect, and the car seat installed. Our first little one was going to be here before we knew it. Things went as planned (for the most part) during labor and delivery, and we had a beautiful baby girl we named Nora. But, the days and weeks to follow were not what we had planned for or ever even imagined.
Every newborn in Oklahoma is required to undergo a hearing screening. For most babies, it is very routine, which probably explains why we had never heard of or thought anything about it. Nora came close to passing the screening three times but never actually did. At the time, I would have given almost anything for her to have passed the screening. Looking back today, I am so grateful that she didn’t. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for this screening and the recommendation to visit Hearts for Hearing for further evaluation.
We called and scheduled an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test with Hearts for Hearing immediately. Nora was 6 weeks old when we took her in and hoped to find out that everything was going to be fine, that she just had excessive fluid in her ears after birth. Instead, we were given the news we didn’t want to hear: Nora was born with a bilateral (both ears) congenital sensorineural mild (in low frequencies) to moderate (in higher frequencies) hearing loss. Later, we would learn this was caused by a mutation of the connexin 26 gene. Fortunately, this news was given to us by the most caring people we have ever met. Even though they deliver this news to parents on a daily basis, they treated us like the most important parents they’ve ever met. In fact, the people that were in the room are still part of our lives because of how special they are. The care that we have received from Hearts for Hearing in the months and years since that day have undoubtedly been one of the biggest unforeseen blessings in our family’s lives.
Hearts for Hearing is a nonprofit that provides the first set of hearing aids for children ages 5 and under at no cost to families across Oklahoma. When given the news that Nora would immediately be fitted for hearing aids, H4H came to our rescue and gave us no excuse for not diving in head first with our early intervention plan. After a few good cries, we began our journey with Hearts for Hearing. Early intervention is vital in a child with hearing loss. For us, this included bi-weekly earmolds for our swiftly growing child, bi-weekly Speech and Language therapy sessions starting at 2 months, and booth hearing tests with our audiologist. Something special about Hearts for Hearing is that they are a collaborative care clinic. Rather than visiting an audiologist in one place and a speech-language pathologist at a different location, Hearts for Hearing does it all under one roof. They see better outcomes with this approach.
Even without her hearing aids, Nora hears a lot of what is happening around her. However, she would have been disadvantaged during key years of her speech development without her hearing aids and Speech Language Therapy with Hearts for Hearing. As the years have passed, we have seen proof that early intervention from H4H works. Nora has been able to succeed in a mainstream classroom and stay on a level playing-field with her peers.
Because we knew Nora’s hearing loss was caused by a genetic disorder, we also knew there was a chance our future children could potentially face the same challenges. After the success we saw with Nora, we knew, with the help of Hearts for Hearing, we could handle it if we had to face the same thing again. Knox was our second child and first boy. He passed his screening in the hospital as well as several subsequent tests at Hearts for Hearing (can’t be too sure!) However, when Klein came along as child number three in 2013, the hospital screening again showed a potential hearing loss. So back to Hearts for Hearing we went. Same booth, same wonderful people, same bad news. And this time, while tears were still shed, we knew exactly what to do and what our outcome could be – a healthy happy child who isn’t defined by their hearing loss.
Just like children with hearing loss have the opportunity to hear, adults deserve the opportunity to hear again too. Hearts for Hearing also has a full service adult clinic.
Amanda was born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. She attended Oklahoma Christian University and met her husband Luke there on the 1st day of their Freshman year. They now have been married for 11 years and have 3 kids, Nora(9), Knox(6) and Klein(3). Amanda works at Oklahoma Christian University as the Student Events Coordinator where she plans events and puts together student productions. Amanda loves her work but one of the best parts is her flexibility and availability to be with her kids. Amanda and her husband, Luke, love to attend sporting events, from their kids games to professional sports. Traveling is her most favorite hobby. Amanda is a bit of a musical nut and cannot stop listening to “Hamilton”.