Hours after her birth in July 2015, Lauryn Henry’s parents, Mark Henry and Stacey Caswell, agreed to have their daughter’s hearing tested as part of a routine hearing screening test at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. They did not expect a problem, but the screening, performed by an in-hospital ErinoakKids hearing screener, indicated their daughter had a possible hearing loss.
“At first we figured she had mucus in her ears, as our first child Nola did,” recalls Stacey. “But Nola passed her followup and Lauryn failed so she was referred to ErinoakKids for further assessment.”
Each year in Central West Ontario, more than 30,000 newborns like Lauryn are screened for possible hearing loss as part of Ontario’s Infant Hearing Program. In April 2014, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) introduced a Continuous Quality Improvement Plan that required hearing screeners to screen 250 babies per year to maintain a high level of skill and accuracy. To help meet these standards, ErinoakKids developed an innovative approach to hearing screening in Halton Region. In summer 2015, ErinoakKids placed its own expert hearing screeners at both Joseph Brant and Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospitals to screen newborns for hearing loss in place of hospital staff. The change means more accurate and efficient hearing screening, so that intervention is possible sooner for newborns with a permanent hearing loss.
For Lauryn, soon after her first hearing test flagged a possible concern, she came to ErinoakKids for followup with Infant Hearing Audiologist Mary Eros, who performed further testing and diagnosed Lauryn with a mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss in both ears.
Hearing Instrument Specialist Jeffrey Peden prescribed hearing aids for Lauryn and Auditory Verbal Therapist Christine Jones began helping her learn to associate sound she hears through her hearing aids with what is happening in her world.
“Lauryn is very sociable and playful,” says Christine. “She is vocal and babbling. She has lots to tell us!”
Indeed, it was because Lauryn could hear and react to noise that her parents had not believed anything was wrong. But screening is performed to detect trouble before it is obvious, because children who need hearing aids require them by six months of age to meet their speech development milestones.
Lauryn is now meeting her milestones like any average little girl, thanks to early detection of her hearing problem.
“With coaching and support from ErinoakKids, we learned to control the sound level in our home, so that background noise does not cause Lauryn confusion,” Mark and Stacey say. “Her big sister Nola also helps by alerting us if Lauryn pulls out a hearing aid.”
Helping Lauryn develop typical speech, language, listening and early literacy skills despite her hearing loss is a family affair, and ErinoakKids has been an important part of it.
“We’re just so glad ErinoakKids is there,” Mark says. “What I’m most impressed with about ErinoakKids is that their goal is the same as parents – to make sure children meet or exceed their milestones. Today, Lauryn’s world has opened up more than we could have ever imagined because of it.”