By Jaime Vernon, Founder/Director, Songs for Sound
“My little girl–only 14 months old—is DEAF” Jaime, and her husband Kevin thought. All those times she wouldn’t stop crying when I whispered “sh, sh, sh, sh” as I rocked her back and forth, or when I CRIED because she wouldn’t put her head on my shoulder when I sang to her.
I asked our amazing Audiologist,
Dr. Cathrine Hayes, “How do we fix this? Sign language, special schools, what do you need me to do?”
Honestly, I never expected the answer that followed. “There is a device that can bring back sound to the deaf: a COCHLEAR IMPLANT. Lexi can live a very normal life full of sound.”
I sat there and a dark image in my mind of isolation for my daughter was suddenly erased and turned into HOPE!
Four months later, Lexi was implanted by our HEARO, Dr. David Haynes, at Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. Two weeks later, on July 31, 2009, she was “activated” and I watched her HEAR for the very first time.
Not only did I witness Lexi hearing her daddy’s voice for the first time, her brother’s giggle, hearing me say “I love you;” but on the VERY FIRST DAY, I also watched Lexi point to a bird chirping! She is DEAF, but can HEAR a bird chirping?! Within her first two months of hearing, it happened: “Ma Ma.”
A milestone for many was a miracle to us.
Unfortunately, our healthcare journey was marred with errors that left my child underserved for the first year of her life. Critical language is gained in those early years, but she didn’t get that chance as early as she should have.
• The hospital didn’t administer the newborn hearing screening
• Hearing tests at 10-weeks were inconclusive and we were advised to “follow up”
• On Lexi’s 1st birthday, still no MA MA, DA DA or even a babble.
• At 13 months, revisit to the former pediatrician stating “she needs the follow up appointment to test her hearing”…the response was:
“I think she’s fine. She heard that noise in the hallway. Some children don’t talk until they are 18 months of age. LET’S WAIT.”
Short version, I said, “No, we will NOT wait. Give me the referral.”
Enter: SONGS FOR SOUND, a 501c3, non-profit charity to RESTORE SOUND and HOPE to those who suffer from hearing loss and deafness. And our method is…MUSIC. Songwriter rounds, performances and more turned into AWARENESS and FUNDRAISING events with songwriters and entertainers such as Gary LeVox – lead singer of Rascal Flatts—and, ironically, Lexi’s UNCLE; Jerrod Niemann, Friends of Lola, Neil Thrasher, Wendell Mobley, Jason Sellers, Rivers Rutherford, Jay Clementi, Kelley Lovelace, Hillary Lindsey, Brett James, Natalie Hemby and so many more have JAMMED for this cause. WHY? Because what would Nashville be WITHOUT MUSIC?
What would your life be without it? Imagine life without your wedding song or losing a parent and not being able to drive for miles and crank up the radio to ESCAPE or throw yourself into the PAIN. What about experiencing church without HEARING THE GLORIOUS PRAISES in WORSHIP?
What would it be like if you WALKED THE STREETS OF BROADWAY and MUSIC ROW…and could never HEAR THE MUSIC?
For 360 MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE who have a DISABLING HEARING LOSS, it’s an every day reality.
• In rural communities, 50% of children who fail a newborn hearing screening do not return for services.
• 40% of pediatric hearing loss is actually PROGRESSIVE and not caught with a newborn hearing screening. They may lose their hearing within their first two years.
• On average, children with no hearing aids or cochlear implants and use sign language cannot learn to read past the third grade level; a statistic that hasn’t changed in 30 years.
• DYK? A hearing aid AMPLIFIES a mild-to moderate-loss. A cochlear implant RESTORES sound for a severe-to-profound loss. If your HEARING AIDS aren’t doing the trick anymore, you should consult with an ENT or Otologist.
• 1.5 million, post 911, suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus
• We are only treating 5% of those who could benefit from a cochlear implant.
• We are only manufacturing approximately 10% of the global need of hearing aids.
My daughter’s miracle became my passion:
SONGS FOR SOUND: Using MUSIC to help kids, adults, VETERANS, who have not been given ACCESS to proper hearing healthcare through COCHLEAR IMPLANTS, hearing aids, or PREVENTION.
Now, Lexi is 9 years old, attends Christ Presbyterian Academy, and is FULLY mainstreamed. She has perfect SPEECH like any other child. She is an incredible student, a dynamite basketball and softball player, and she LOVES MUSIC.
Songs for Sound has now toured over 25 states, hosted over 250 hearing health events, provided over 8,000 free hearing tests, and also consultations connecting participants to quality care in their area. They’ve recently launched a special program, Sound for Soldiers, focused on partnering with veterans organizations to specifically reach our beloved troops and veterans. 85% of vets refer for further testing after failing hearing tests administered by Songs for Sound. We are in the middle of a tour, returning to Nashville in June. Watch SongsforSound.com for dates all over Nashville to get your free hearing test.
HEAR THE MUSIC
On June 16th, Songs for Sound will host the 7th HEAR THE MUSIC Benefit Concert:
Sound of Thunder
Benefit & Kickoff party for
THUNDER on the
CUMBERLAND Boat Race
June 16th, ACME Feed & Seed’s The Hatchery – 6:30 pm
Tickets start at $40
TIPS & HINTS:
• If your child is not talking age-appropriately, INSIST on a hearing screening; even if one has already been given at birth.
• ALWAYS follow after a failed newborn screen even if you hear:
– it’s probably fluid
– they will grow out of it
– it’s often a fluke
• Make sure your child receives a pediatrician administered hearing test at age four. Most offices are doing these now!
• Are you straining to hear the tv? Do you turn up the volume to high levels?
• Having trouble in conversation?
• Do you notice that you pull yourself away from social experiences because it is so stressful to try and hear?
• TURN DOWN THE VOLUME on iPods, etc! See this article from our friends at ASHA: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Noise/