Believe it! Listening and Spoken Language is working for Northern New England infants, young children and adults with all levels of hearing loss.
Become inspired by these amazing stories of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing who can communicate easily thanks to their cochlear implants or hearing aids, hear ME now therapy, and supportive families and professionals. You can also watch our video to see that listening and speaking are possible with Listening and Spoken Language.
MEET TAYLOR, A ROLE MODEL FOR YOUNGER KIDS
As a young child with cochlear implants, Taylor remembers how impactful it was to meet older kids who looked like him. Now a mechanical engineering student at Rochester Institute of Technology, Taylor has taken time as a young adult to meet with younger kids and their parents to give them a glimpse of life further down the listening and spoken language journey. He says, “…it has been really humbling to talk with parents and give them hope for what is possible in the future. It’s been a privilege to be a role model for young kids with hearing loss.”
Taylor enjoys to be outdoors. He loves to fish, hike, camp and mountain bike. He achieved his black belt in karate, and has been a member of the indoor and outdoor track teams in high school. He loves magic, and has taught himself a number of card tricks through watching YouTube videos. He is very outgoing and has gained a great group of friends over the years.
Taylor attended preschool at hear ME now and transitioned to mainstream kindergarten at the age of 6. With continued support from hear ME now, Taylor did well in his mainstream classroom and graduated from high school with honors. While there were many struggles over the years, Taylor developed the skills needed to overcome and adapt to challenges that came his way.
Taylor’s dad says, “hear ME now has been a tremendous support to Taylor and our family for the last 15+ years. The staff at HMN always felt like family, and were there to answer any questions or concerns that arose throughout Taylor’s entire education. The HMN family has made a lasting impact on Taylor’s life, and he would not be where he is today without the knowledge, dedication and love that he received from the staff.”
MEET ZACH, TEAM CAPTAIN
Zach loves golfing, skiing, indoor climbing, and playing the piano. He is outgoing and animated with his close friends. Zach was captain of his high school golf and alpine ski teams, and he had a real knack for working with underclassmen.
Zach is a student at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he is working on his Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media Design. Zach uses cochlear implants to hear and after attending preschool at hear ME now where he received intensive listening and spoken language therapy, he returned to public elementary school in Pre-K. He really took off academically once he got to 4th grade and graduated from high school with Honors.
Zach’s mother says, “I can honestly say that I don't know how our family would have made it through our journey with hearing loss if not for hear ME now. That journey is certainly not over, but it's much easier now than it was in the early days. Working with hear ME now helped Zach be ready to mainstream in Pre-K just like his peers in the community, and they provided excellent support to him and his teachers as he progressed through elementary, middle and high school. In addition, hear ME now provided support and education to our entire family, which helped us to better support Zach in academic and social settings. We consider hear ME now to be a part of our family.”
MEET JANE, SHE LOVES LISTENING TO MUSIC!
Jane and her family started home visits with hear ME now at 3 months of age; this is when Jane began wearing her first hearing aids. hear ME now continued to work with Jane and her family after she received bilateral cochlear implants around her first birthday. By her third birthday, Jane’s speech and language abilities were on par with, and even surpassed, her typically hearing peers.
Jane is now 8 years old and loves reading and listening to music – especially Taylor Swift. She participated in a theater camp for the first time last summer and absolutely loved. It. She has an amazing ability to do accents and dramatic voices!
Jane’s parents say, “hear ME now taught us how to incorporate listening and spoken language into our daily routines and playtimes. It became our way of life. We narrated everything in Jane’s world, constant pointing out sounds we heard, explaining what we were doing throughout the day, singing songs, reading books…Even though we no longer receive direct services from hear ME now, we are thankful to know they are always there for Jane and our family, celebrating Jane’s accomplishment and supporting us whenever we need it.”
MEET MATT, MAINE MARITIME ACADEMY STUDENT
Matthew Fournier was diagnosed with a genetic hearing loss when he was an infant. He attended the hear ME now preschool program and once in public school, hear ME now supported Matt and his teaching teams through consultation services.
Matt’s parents say as he progressed through school, hear ME now worked with him on the skills he needs to advocate for himself and the accommodations he needs to be successful. Although there may be struggles at times, they say Matt has not let his hearing loss be a barrier in his daily life, or in working towards his dreams!
Matt is an active young adult that loves to downhill ski, hike, and mountain bike. He has an ability to think outside the box and approaches situations with a curious nature. Currently a freshman at Maine Maritime Academy, Matt is studying Marine Systems Engineering.
MEET ARION, ACTIVE 5 YEAR OLD
Arion is an active 5 year old from New Hampshire who enjoys playing hockey, skiing and riding his bike. Arion was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy at 6 weeks of age. He loves to play with cars, dragons, and dinosaurs.
His mom says hear ME now gave her practical ways to develop his listening and spoken language that fit within their family play time. “hear ME now helped us shape our goals to make sure Arion’s language skills were where they needed to be.” Arion and his family received tele-services from hear ME now for over 2 years when he was a toddler. He still asks about time with his hear ME now provider!
Another hear ME now alum, Seth, who has graduated high school and is currently taking college courses.
Nine year old Seth is a gregarious, fun loving boy, who has great energy and a zest for life. Unlike most children being served by hear ME now Seth was born with perfect hearing. At three months of age, Seth became very ill with a high fever and was rushed to the hospital. After anxious hours of waiting, Seth was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis—the doctors were concerned about his survival. Seth survived the ordeal, but his relieved parents soon learned that due to the side effects of the illness he was now profoundly deaf in his right ear and had a fluctuating loss in his left ear. The long journey to find proper services for their son had begun for parents, Pete and Sue. Excerpted from 2009 newsletter.
Obtaining information from therapists, audiologists and other professionals was a key to discovering what options were available for their son. Should they concentrate on immersing Seth into Deaf culture and teach him sign language? Should they give him access to the hearing world through the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants? What would work best for their family?
Seth was fitted for hearing aids at the age of 12 months, and when he was 17 months of age, Pete and Sue decided to send Seth to a program at the Baxter School for the Deaf (Maine Education Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) that used some speech combined with sign language. They discovered very quickly, however, that Seth wanted to speak much more than he wanted to sign. Through research and a little luck, Pete and Sue found hear ME now!. Although at four years of age, Seth was a little older than most students who begin attending hear ME now's preschool, he learned quickly and his language exploded! Thanks to a lot of hard work by Seth’s teachers, therapists and his parents’ attitude of “We’ll do whatever it takes”, Seth was ready to attend a regular kindergarten program in his own community the following year.
Today, Seth is an active fourth grader. He loves to go camping and fishing with his family, wrestles on a local team, rides his bike with his friends and plays a great game of chess. He enjoys playing basketball, baseball or going to the movies with his older brother and sister, Adam and Leah.
“We’re happy to support hear ME now!,” say parents Pete and Sue. “They helped Seth learn how to listen and speak. What better gift could they ever have given us?”
Another special hear ME now alum and high school graduate, Madison's story is below.
“This is a story about my daughter Madison’s journey to being successfully mainstreamed into third grade. Madison was diagnosed with a hearing loss at age 4 months. She is profoundly deaf in both ears. We were living in Florida when Maddy was born and we began early intervention services right away. They told us to keep talking and talking to our baby. We were lucky that the State early intervention coordinators truly gave us information about all communications options and let us make our own decisions for our family. We decided we wanted Maddy to be oral because that’s what our family is. Also, we thought that Maddy could always learn sign language but that we had to get her access to sound as soon as we could because if she didn’t use hearing she would lose the ability to learn to listen and talk.
She received her right implant at age 13 months and her left implant at four years of age. We chose Medel cochlear implants – it was hard as a parent to pick which manufacturer to use. I thought “Should we wait? What if the technology gets better?” The company has been with us every step of the way, their customer service is amazing and we haven’t had any problems with the device.
She received speech and auditory therapy twice a week at a private auditory oral school and once a week at our implant center. At first, I felt a little disappointed – I thought when she got her implant she would start hearing right away, I didn’t realize we still had to teach her to listen. So, at first her progress was slow – but amazing once she began to learn to listen and talk. Her older sisters Anita (13) and Christina (11) helped so much – they are girls that love to talk! When Maddy reached preschool age, she attended an auditory oral preschool and a mainstream daycare, and both provided her with different skills and experiences.
When Maddy was approaching Kindergarten age, we moved to Maine. I was nervous about relocating and leaving the professionals that had helped us, but we contacted hear ME now, and they helped us so much with the transition. We still needed speech/audition therapy and they provided that, plus they helped us talk to the school system about having her attend Kindergarten for a full day, instead of the usual half day. This gave her all the repetition she needed and by the time she was ready for 1st Grade, she was able to be fully mainstreamed. The School Department has been so responsive and wonderful about working with us – they realized that a few extra supports early in Maddy’s education would get her where she needed to be, and lessen the need for services as she got older.
They’ve worked as a team with us and with hear ME now. The consultation hear ME now provides continues to be so helpful to the classroom staff. We could never have gotten Maddy where she is today without the support and knowledge of the listening and spoken language professionals at hear ME now!
Excerpted from 2010 newsletter.
Thomas, a hear ME now alum, is now a teenager in high school. Read his story below.
Thomas is a happy, bubbly little boy. He lives with his parents, April and Ty, and big sister, Shannon. He will celebrate his third birthday in June and will have a new baby sister in August!
When Thomas was just weeks old, testing with an audiologist confirmed a profound bilateral hearing loss. April remembers driving home that day in the rain and thinking that Thomas would never hear the rain pouring on the windshield. Thomas was fitted with hearing aids and began speech therapy and ASL (American Sign Language) instruction.
The family began working with the Children’s Hospital Boston to see if Thomas was a candidate for cochlear implants. He received his first implant at 14 months and the second at 25 months. The first 18 months after receiving his implant were frustrating and discouraging. Thomas would constantly remove his processors and toss them across the room. Just trying to keep them on his head for five minutes was a struggle.
April and Ty became interested in hear ME now! when a Listening & Spoken Language Specialist spoke to the Parent-Infant-Toddler program at the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. After the presentation, April researched auditory-oral education and realized that auditory oral “was the one option that COMPLETELY made sense for our family”. The Morins visited hear ME now, met with the Listening and Spoken Language Specialist and began learning how to implement the principles of Auditory Verbal Therapy at home. They also continued to attend ASL classes but as time progressed, it became clear that Thomas was not picking up ASL, even though the family had made a strong effort to learn it (2-3 times weekly) and teach it to Thomas. At 24 months, the family decided to stop signing and focus on improving Thomas’ auditory skills.
After 22 months in auditory only programming, Thomas is Listening and talking very well. April says, “Can you imagine what I felt the first time he said “Momma?” The first time he hummed along to the car stereo? We are feeling so positive about the choices we have made. A recent evaluation showed us that Thomas’ comprehensive language tested at 22 months. That tells me that he is not only hearing what we say, but understanding it as well. He is closing the gap between his chronological age (32 months) and his hearing age (18 months). We are extremely encouraged by the results that we’re seeing. It is our goal to mainstream Thomas right into kindergarten with peers of his age!” Excerpted from 2010 newsletter.