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Mark was first diagnosed deaf at 8½ months. We took Mark to a hospital for
testing. They said that Mark's hearing loss was so severe that even with
hearing aids, he would never speak in sentences. He would communicate
through lipreading and sign language. He would never go to a conventional
school. Devastated, we sought a second opinion.
Today, Mark is an eighth
grader at St. Vincent Elementary School with his siblings. He has been
attending classes with hearing children since nursery school. It's quite a
long way from first being told he wouldn't speak in sentences.
Mark was mainstreamed into school because he learned to listen through
the auditory-verbal method of communication. With this technique, Mark is
encouraged to use what little hearing he has to learn to listen. We learned
this method from Dr. Carol Flexer at the University of Akron.
Hearing aids serve only to amplify what little sound Mark can hear. To
teach him to listen then to speak, Dr. Flexer taught us how to use the
auditory-verbal approach and how to shield my lips with my hand
Mark could not watch my mouth and lipread.
Therapy started when Mark was one. I talked non-stop everyday, but a year
passed before he spoke back. The payoff came one day when we were at the
grocery store and I got the children snacks at the snack bar. Mark
accidentally spilled his drink on himself. Mark said, "All wet!" From that
moment on, language seemed to flow.
We also made three annual trips to the Beebe Center in Easton, PA, an
auditory-verbal clinic. At the clinic we worked with excellent therapists
such as Helen Beebe, Dr. Don Goldberg, Diane McKitish, and Pam Talbot. They
helped us along the way.
When I look back at the very beginning and I see what he can do now, it
makes me very happy. I didn't doubt that Mark would be able to talk--I
doubted that I would be able to teach him. And if I did it, you can too!