Micah and Mia’s Story as Told by Their Mom
Our journey as parents of a hard of hearing child began in 2014 when our son, Micah was born. He failed his newborn hearing screening and 6 weeks later, at his ABR, he was diagnosed with hearing loss. We were given a lot of information that day that, quite honestly, did not stick. There were packets of information and terms that I was not familiar with used to describe his hearing loss. Just because our son was diagnosed with a hearing loss did not mean we were automatically given audiology and education degrees to be able to know how to understand and teach our son. My husband and I are engineers by education and profession, so this became a new study focus for us. However, we found that we had difficulty navigating the resources and fully understanding how we needed to be incorporated into the process.
We first met Cara and Mary at the South Carolina Deaf /Hard of Hearing Educational Partnership Summit. They had a booth set up, so I signed up to receive their newsletters and email communications. This is how we found out about their ASL class being offered to families, which we attended in January 2016. As our son came to the transition point from BabyNet to the school district, we were faced with a new challenge and a new environment where the interventions for Micah were family centered and we were key players in his intervention to the school system, where we were again introduced to new terms, definitions, and a system that was intimidating.
Enter Cara. She came to our house, and we sat at my kitchen table drinking tea while she gave me a book that explained everything from the audiology terms, levels of hearing loss, to our rights and the roles that everyone on our son’s team plays and should fill. I’ll never forget her listening to Micah, and her encouraging me about his possessive s’s that he was just learning to say. Her passion for teaching was obvious both with Micah and with me. She came prepared to walk through the IEP process, and through a series of meetings, she explained the process, where our trouble spots could be, the differences in their qualification criteria, and gave me a bound notebook that walked me through all of the information I needed to gather and keep for him. I showed it to my husband and he has read that book multiple times, commenting on what an valuable resource it was and how he wished we were given that when our son was first diagnosed. Cara went on to join us in our IEP meetings as an advocate and her expertise and experience helped us navigate the process. She attended every IEP meeting with us and discussed what happened and answered questions after every meeting. She helped us prepare for the next meeting with his IEP team and continues to check in to see how things are going and if we have questions.
Our daughter born in the fall of last year was also diagnosed with hearing loss shortly after she was born, and even though we have been through it before, we still have things that come up with her that are new and different than our experience with Micah. Cara’s consistent relationship with us has allowed us to ask questions and process what things we need to do differently with Mia than what we did with Micah. I can’t speak more highly of Beginnings and all that they have done for our family.
Over the course of the last couple of months, I’ve met two ladies while I was with the children. If you have two children wearing hearing aids, there are always questions. But these ladies approached me, because their children also wore hearing aids. As I asked about them, they began to tell me how they felt lost and weren’t sure what to do next for their child or the questions they had. In both cases, I shared with them about Beginnings. With our vast wealth of information that is available digitally, these families needed what I needed – a person that would sit at their table, listen to their questions, and have the expertise to guide them to the right information for their family and their needs and choices for parenting and educating their child. Beginnings does that. Their parent education is key to success, because (as I like to call it) the king of the tribe of professionals that are part of their child’s journey are the parents and primary caregivers. Beginnings empowered us to feel confident in IEP meetings and with professionals to ask the questions and get the resources needed.