This December, my daughter, Kaitlyn, will celebrate her sweet sixteen birthday. As I look at this vibrant teenager with the beautiful blond hair and blue eyes, I find myself thinking back to her birth. More than a decade and a half ago, she was born at just 26 weeks gestation. Her birth weight was only 1 lb., 12 oz., and a few days later her weight was as low as 1 lb., 6 oz. The neonatologists were cautious and their prognosis guarded. Frankly, they didn't know if she would survive.
As I approach twenty years in the profession of Speech-Language Pathology, I have come to realize that we need new definitions for at least two terms: counseling and rehabilitation. Because I've spent my career specializing in aural habilitation and working directly with young children with hearing loss and their families, these terms have a very specific meaning for me.
Today, I had the opportunity to work with a mother and her one-year old son. She returned to the Speech-Language-Hearing Center at Utah State University for another opinion about the status of her son's hearing loss. Previously, "Allan" was diagnosed with a bilateral severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss. In fact, he was diagnosed shortly after birth, fitted with powerful digital hearing aids, and has received intensive early intervention designed to maximize his amplified residual hearing and to develop his spoken language. Allan's case is what we hope to see happen for all children with hearing loss!