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Hearing screening quickly put Freya on the right path

When Freya was born on January 25, 2012, her parents, Andrea and Chris, had no reason to suspect she had a hearing loss. Yet a hearing screening conducted by the family’s midwives, and confirmed in a community clinic, showed Freya was at risk. She was quickly referred for further testing to ErinoakKids, which leads the Infant Hearing Program for Halton, Peel, Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin.

Freya poses with her Dad in the ErinoakKids hearing aid dispensary. 
“It was very hard when we first learned of Freya's hearing loss,” her mother recalls. “It was not something we were expecting since she appeared to react to sound the way both her older siblings did. There is no history of hearing loss in our family.” Neither Freya’s sister Kyla, 4, nor brother Curran, 6, have hearing problems.
Freya's parents did their own research and learned their daughter’s apparently normal behaviour – reacting to sound and turning her head toward it – was deceiving.  
 “She can hear almost normally in the lower frequency ranges,” Chris explains.  “But in the higher frequency ranges her hearing loss is moderate to severe.  Mary Eros, the ErinoakKids audiologist, said this type of hearing loss can be dealt with extremely well by the hearing aids.”
Both parents are enthusiastic about the support they’ve received at ErinoakKids, and agree that Freya’s story is a classic example of the importance of infant hearing screening.
“Mary was instrumental not only in diagnosing Freya but making sure she received the hearing aids before she was six months old,” Chris says.  “All the research we did at home tells us that getting hearing aids before six months helps make sure she stays with her peers in terms of language development.”
Freya’s care team includes Mary, who did the audiology testing at ErinoakKids’ North Sheridan site, Speech Language Pathologist Christine Jones, who provides Freya with audio verbal therapy at our Burloak site near the family home in Oakville, and Hearing Instrument Specialist Jeff Peden, who fitted Freya with her new hearing aids.
 Hearing Instrument Specialist Jeff Peden inspects Freya’s ear while the soft material injected into her other ear hardens to make an impression of the ear canal.  The impression will then be used to create a custom-fitted ear mold for her hearing aid. In children as young as Freya, new ear molds must be made every three months as the child grows.

“I find the whole process to be immersive,” Chris says. “It’s not like we’re just doing one thing.  It’s a more holistic treatment we’re receiving.” Andrea agrees. “I think it’s wonderful how everybody works together as a team.”
Freya, as anyone who watches the spunky little charmer can attest, is alert, attentive and in-the-moment. It was a pleasant surprise to her parents to discover she doesn’t tend to pull her hearing aids out, as many infants do. And they are delighted that her language is developing at the same pace as her older siblings.
“She’s got some words she already says pretty distinctly and she’s starting to sing little songs; she recognizes the sounds,” says her mother. “We feel fortunate that it was caught early. It was not a profound hearing loss, so she was reacting to some sounds. Without the screening, I don’t know that we would have caught it so early. I think we’re the kind of family that the hearing screening was designed to help.”

Chris and Andrea with children Curran (6), Kyla (4) and Freya (18 months)

Did you know?

Did you know that much of a child’s cognitive, social and academic progress depends on communication, and that augmentative and alternative communication has been shown to enhance a child’s ability in all of these areas?

Read about Assistive Devices Resource Services at ErinoakKids
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