Every day, 4-year old Claire illustrates her preschool day with a drawing and adds it to her preschool scrapbook. Her excitement to share her day’s adventure with her parents is evident when she opens her book to page one and begins describing every day she has spent at the Boys Town National Research Hospital preschool in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 2008, Claire failed her Newborn Hearing Screening. After multiple hearing screenings, she was diagnosed with mild hearing loss in her right ear and fit with a hearing aid at 6 months of age. At 32 months, she was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss in both ears and fit with two new hearing aids.
“With Claire’s level of hearing loss our biggest concern was speech and language development,” said Amanda Corrigan, Claire’s mother. “Due to this we felt it was important to start her in a preschool as soon as possible at the age of three.”
Claire attends the five-day a week early childhood preschool program at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Highly trained educators, speech-language pathologists, art therapists and other specialists provide intensive differentiated instruction focusing on developing listening and spoken language skills for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
The Boys Town Hospital Preschool Program uniquely accepts students with normal hearing into the program as classroom role-models. As the children play and interact, they are constantly surrounded by rich language experiences.
“We are very pleased she is able to be around others with hearing aids, but it is very important to us that she is around others with good speech and language so she can continue to grow with them,” said Amanda.
And Claire’s speech development did grow! Not only can she can tell you that cochlear implant begins with the letter ‘C’ and recite her alphabet, she is also is teaching her younger brother sign language and speaking Spanish!
The Preschool program provides a continuum of services, including spoken language and sign-based instruction depending on the learning needs of the child. It aims to develop the child’s many ways of experiencing the world by providing a range of small and large group activities focused on early literacy, writing, drama, art, music, math, movement and exploration.
“We feel this has a huge impact on the students of the preschool. As evidence of this, our daughter currently tests above average in all areas for her developmental age,” said Amanda.
“My advice to parents who have a child where hearing loss has been recently identified is to be courageous. Have courage in your ability to be the best possible parent for your child, have the courage to do what is in the best interest of your child at all times, (and) have the courage to educate yourself and those around you about the needs of your child,” said Amanda. “We try our best to always do what is best for our daughter Claire. Our only hope is that one day we can be as courageous as Claire.”
More information on Boys Town National Research Hospital Preschool Program.