Wednesday, January 28, 2009

AJ's TOD in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

AJ's TOD Chris, was interviewed for an article on the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing in our Milwaukee Area. Yeah! We love our Chris!! I've pasted the article below-if you want to read the article on the newspaper's website, click HERE.

The news was unclear at first.

Soon after the birth of their son, Wade, Chad and Christina Lindmark were told the boy had failed a hearing screening, but doctors thought it could be inaccurate because of fluid buildup in his ears.

The couple hoped for the best and tried not to worry, but once home, they conducted their own testing.

"We banged on pots and pans when he wasn't looking, to see if he would respond," recalls Christina Lindmark. When Wade didn't react, she said, "we both knew that something wasn't quite right."

A more in-depth test confirmed their fears. Wade, who had severe hearing loss in one ear and profound hearing impairment in the other, was legally deaf.

"It's such a scary place to be to think that you can't communicate with your child," Lindmark said.

She and her husband turned to the Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in West Allis for help.

The center focuses on early intervention, giving families the tools, resources and strategies needed to nurture their child's language, speech, intellectual abilities and social and emotional growth.

In its 80-year history, the center has amassed a number of success stories, including Robbin Scott, former Miss Wisconsin National Preteen, who was born without a left eardrum and 40% hearing in her right ear.

Scott and her mother, Lynne, credit the center for keeping her on track with her hearing peers early in life.

"I'm very grateful for the life I have," said Robbin Scott, of Menomonee Falls, now a student at the University of Arizona.

Christine Kometer, program director of the center's Kellogg Child and Family Program, said it has been within just recent years that advances in hearing screening technology have made it possible to identify hearing-impaired infants at birth, greatly enhancing the opportunity for early intervention.

"We start with children as early as 2 months," Kometer said. "Many children now are getting to the age of 3 years old and are entering school with very close to age-appropriate language."

She said children with hearing loss who do not receive early intervention services have a higher risk of developing learning disabilities, poor social skills and behavioral problems that can last a lifetime.

The center is a welcome site for the families it serves because 90% of infants born deaf are born to hearing parents. The program uses a family-centered approach to early intervention, recognizing that the most important learning environment for a child, particularly in the younger years, is the home.

The center, which also serves adults, offers a wide range of communication approaches, from lip reading to American Sign Language, and also a number of therapy options.

The Lindmarks selected the center's auditory-verbal therapy, which teaches parents how to develop their child's ability to learn through listening.

Christine Lindmark recalls that during early therapy sessions, she would cover her mouth and ask Wade, who wears hearing aids, to repeat sounds she made in an effort to exercise the tiny muscles in his ear to help build stronger multisensory pathways.

Wade, now 4, reads on a second-grade level.

"His speech is on target, if not advanced," she said. "It's pretty amazing."

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