Hearing Aids Help Infants During Developmental Years

Janet Frank

 (801) 357-7766



March 21, 2014 — PROVO — What do you do when three of your six children are born with hearing disorders? Most families don’t have to cope with that issue, but for one Pleasant Grove family, its reality and something that threatened the normal development of their kids.
“They’d come home from school exhausted, drained, and sleep away the rest of the day,” said Kim Lawyer, mother of three hearing aid recipients. “Their brains had to work so much harder to hear, learn and function.”
The Lawyer family’s journey began in 1997 when their first son, Daniel, was an infant. He had difficulty reacting to noises or babbling like most newborns. At that time, the best thing for Daniel was to receive analog hearing aids at age 1. Those were better than nothing, but hearing well would still be an uphill battle. A few years later, digital hearing aid technology became more readily available and Daniel upgraded his devices.
“After my son received digital hearing aids, we left the hospital and he said, ‘Is that noise, the wind?’” recalled Kim. “I choked up and told him, ‘Yes! It’s the wind blowing through the trees.’ It was a wonderful experience to see him hear that for the first time.”
The Audiology Department at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center helped the Lawyers with Daniel’s hearing aids. The family soon became familiar faces at the hospital as their daughter, Jane, and youngest son, Josh, were treated with digital hearing aids at age 3.
In 2006, Daniel and Jane both became candidates for the newest hearing aid therapy – cochlear implants. Receiving a cochlear implant is a permanent procedure that requires surgically inserting the device into the ear and a substantial amount of therapy to re-train the brain for hearing.
“It’s definitely unusual to see circumstances like these in just one family,” said Todd Huffman, audiologist. “Children whose hearing loss is identified by six months of age typically show better language development than children who are identified after that age. We often fit hearing aids when the baby is only about four weeks old. The Lawyers are an amazing family and it’s wonderful to see the progress each child has made.”
Daniel and Jane received cochlear implants in 2006 and today, they have normal hearing. Josh wore digital hearing aids for about one year and received his own cochlear implants last year. “They hear whispers from around the room. It’s wonderful,” said Kim.
For more information, please contact Janet Frank at 801.357.7766 or janet.frank@imail.org.
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