by Allison Schley, MEd
The key to happiness is connections and the key to connections is communication. Regardless of whether your child has hearing, s/he deserves to have those early connections and early communication. However, there are so many things involved when your baby is diagnosed with hearing loss. How do we communicate? What kind of assistive devices do we need? Will we use American Sign Language or Listening and Spoken Language? Are there any other parents who are in the same situation?
Now, there is an answer for you. Communication Connections, Inc. is a woman-owned local-nonprofit dedicated to early intervention for families with hearing loss. Our mission is to provide support for parents to help their children, ages 0-6, reach their potential. Services include unbiased parent education, unbiased community education, American Sign Language Communication groups, Listening and Spoken Language Communication groups, and social opportunities. Children learn through play and Communication Connections, Inc. is all about language-based play. Structured, age appropriate activities are incorporated into all sections of Communication Connections, Inc. There will be story time, free play time, art time, music time, and snack time.
After 15 years of teaching children with hearing loss, I founded Communication Connections, Inc., due to seeing delays in the communication and connections that children with hearing loss had compared to their hearing peers. Research shows that early intervention will lessen this gap. Children in Wisconsin are now tested at birth for hearing loss with the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening. This allows the family to get early intervention at a much earlier age than in the past.
A parent of an older child with hearing loss told me, “We wish we had better early intervention with someone who was skilled in the field. If only we knew other families we could talk to who were going through this journey, it would have helped us feel less isolated.” Another parent stated, “Early intervention is so important. If only we had known our child had hearing loss two years earlier, we could have been so much further along in our child’s language development. “
After a recent inservice for classroom teachers, a student’s parent stated,” You have taught me more in this hour about my child and his hearing loss than I ever knew in the last 13 years of his life.” She also told me, “You go above and beyond. Your ability to connect with my son and help him become a successful, independent learner and advocate for himself is priceless.”
My biggest goal is to help families see their children as children with gifts, rather than children with just a hearing loss diagnosis. I have many friends with hearing loss who are happy and successful adults. Some chose the path of American Sign Language, while others chose to use their listening and speaking. There is no right or wrong answer. Whatever works best for you and your family is what is best for you. Communication Connections, Inc. is small enough to care and big enough to serve your needs. I am dedicated to begin part of this journey for your family to help you weed through all of the information and help your child soar and take off!
We look forward to connecting with you and your families in the near future. Please find out more about how we can serve you by checking out our website www.communicationconnections.org, following us on Twitter @communconnect, or “liking” us on Facebook.
Allison Schley has been in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education for 20 years. She founded a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She most recently wrote a children's book, entitled Forever Friends. This book shows the how a deaf dog and deaf boy teach the world that all kids are good and being deaf is okay.