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Parents Of Hearing Impaired Sons Hope To Raise Awareness

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Jackson, age 3, loves to chat about his favorite movie, “Shrek”, while building with blocks. “We didn’t find out that Jackson was deaf until about 5 weeks,” says Ryan Walters of Suffield. The diagnosis came after his son failed two newborn hearing tests. Another shock a year and a half later, when Jackson’s brother, Chase, was born, also with hearing loss. “We found out through blood work that it’s a recessive gene that we both carry,” says Ryan’s wife, Corinne. “The chances of us both passing it on was rare. The chances of us passing it along twice was off the charts.” Now, the Walters are taking part in the upcoming Walk4Hearing to raise awareness about the challenges and victories their sons have experienced.

“It was scary because we didn’t know anybody with hearing loss,” says Corinne, who felt frightened and lonely. But, that changed when they attended an informational session at a hearing center and made connections with other families. The Walters also learned about the cochlear implant, a surgically-implanted electronic device that enables a profoundly deaf person to hear noises. They decided to go-forward with the four-hour surgery and Jackson received his initial implant. “His first experience hearing wasn’t what we thought it would be. It was more startling,” says Ryan. Adds his wife: “You have to point out when you turn the water on that that’s the water making the sound because he never heard that.” But, after three weeks, Jackson acclimated to his new “ears”. “He was like a different kid,” smiles his mom. “He was playing with toys he’d been playing with his whole 9 month life and getting shocked that they were making sounds.”

Team Walters will participate in the Walk4Hearing on May 31 in East Hartford’s Great River Park. “We have 21 walks around the country,” says Suzanne D’Amico of the Hearing Loss Association of America, noting that the events honor 48 million people in this country living with hearing problems. “It affects young, old. It really is one of the only disabilities that does not discriminate.” There are many causes of deafness, such as genetics, age or work conditions. Hearing loss is the most common birth defect, affecting approximately 3 in 1,000 babies.

Chase, now 1, recently got cochlear implants. The Walters, who also use sign language, believe this will be their most important walk yet, one that Jackson will remember. “There’s honestly no drawbacks,” says Ryan. “He speaks well, he plays with others.” Corinne hopes to educate the public about the amazing technology helping her sons: two precocious boys, full of fun. “If we had known about hearing loss and cochlear implants, the whole journey of those first few months would’ve been so much easier for us.”

For more information, check out http://www.walk4hearing.org

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3 comments

  • Deaf Deaf

    Please be advised that the term, “hearing impaired” is unacceptable. Here is the explanation:

    The term "Hearing Impaired" is a technically accurate term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as politically correct. In the mainstream society, to boldly state one's disability (e.g., deaf, blind, etc.) is somewhat rude and impolite. To their way of thinking, it is far better to soften the harsh reality by using the word "impaired" along with "visual", "hearing", and so on. “Hearing-impaired” is a well-meaning word that is much-resented by deaf and hard of hearing people. This term was popular in the 70s and 80s, however, now is used mostly by doctors, audiologists and other people who are mainly interested in our ears "not working."

    While it's true that their hearing is not perfect, that doesn't make them impaired as people. Most would prefer to be called Deaf, Hard of Hearing or deaf when the need arises to refer to their hearing status, but not as a primary way to identify them as people (where their hearing status is not significant).

    We are deaf, and not people with impairments (obstacles) in life!

    Hope that you and your people respect by refusing to use the outdated and offensive term. Hearing loss is more acceptable for everyone who is not just deaf.
    http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/blog/2011/sehttp://www.deafau.org.au/info/terminology.php http://nad.org/issues/american-sign-language/commhttp://www.ifhoh.org/papers/agreement-terminology

  • a

    Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to make
    a really good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don’t seem to get anything done.

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