Recently, reporters from NewsforChinese.com visited Weingarten Children’s Center, in Redwood City, California, with China’s Beijing Lions Club’s outgoing Director Mr. Ye Ke and the Founding President of the Bay Area San Mateo Metro Lions Club’s Ms. Cindy Zheng. They witnessed that children who were born deaf or with hearing impairment and had cochlear implant surgery along with more than one year of speech and language rehabilitation training after surgery, can talk like regular bilingual children in English as well as their native languages. These deaf children can talk, sing normally and enter mainstream schools for education.
According to statistics, there is about 1 out of 1000 newborn babies with hearing nerve impairment. Some children have no response to external sounds and are diagnosed with congenital deafness. In the past, children with profound hearing loss could not hear sound, and even though they have the ability to talk, they cannot speak. They can only communicate with people through sign language.
Modern science and technology have brought optimism to children with hearing impairment. By performing a small cochlear implant surgery, (Cochlear Implant), a surgeon puts a receiver into the cochlear under the skin behind the ear and connects it to electrodes. After the wound heals, a sound processor that is worn behind the ear captures sounds and turns it into digital codes. The digital codes send the signal via a transmitter (coil) to the surgically implanted internal receiver, and the child can then hear the sound. When the child hears the sound, they have the ability to learn natural language.
A child’s first three years of life is a critical period in the development of language. Once a child misses this period, it will be very difficult to learn the language, thereby having a tremendous negative impact on the child’s life. The sooner a hearing impaired child has cochlear implant the better, along with immediate transition to the speech and language rehabilitation phase. Weingarten Children s Center specializes in the treatment of hearing-impaired children. The BabyTalk Therapy Program offers both English and Spanish counseling, is funded by agencies and charities. It is an innovative Tele-therapy program for 0 to 3 years old children with congenital hearing impairment. The treatment program is designed jointly by the Pediatric Audiologist, Teacher of the Deaf, Speech and Language Pathologist and social worker to teach parents of hearing impaired child how to coach their child to listen, speak and learn.
BabyTalk is a remote treatment therapy program. The hearing impaired child and their parents can stay home without driving a long distance to access Tele-therapy. Initially, the child and parents need to stay at Weingarten Children’s Center for a full day to design a speech therapy treatment program and lesson plan with the onsite Speech and Language Therapist and the support team. The family will also learn how to use their free loaner iPad and Facetime, an encrypted Internet connection. After this first site visit, the family will schedule a weekly therapy. They will Facetime with the Weingarten’s Speech Therapist for an hour to allow the therapist to understand the progress of child, and to determine the treatment plan and specific practices for the next stage. Each therapist at WCC also has an iPad in her therapy room. During the therapy time, they connect and begin their Parent Coaching session just as if they were meeting face to face at the school. This family-centered listening and speaking training program is a personalized, interactive, flexible and efficient method of treatment, so that the child can complete listening, speaking and mainstream pre-school training before the age of three and successfully continue in mainstream schools.
The National data shows that more than 50% of deaf and hard of hearing children have additional learning challenges besides their hearing loss. The Weingarten Children’s Center has been gifted a Multi- Sensory Environment Room through the generosity of the Menlo Park Live Oaks Lions Club and the additional support of the San Carlos Home Depot. The result is a very specially designed room that provides primary sensory input through the auditory, visual, tactile, vestibular and movement senses. The highly motivating equipment provides the right degree of stimulation that allows children with special needs to learn to modulate their own behavior and learn more effectively. The Multi-Sensory Environment room is designed to be controlled by the therapist and children, to provide children with the right degree of stimulation, so that children learn how to regulate their own body and behavior, to help them realize the full potential of their creative and critical thinking skills, to provide a positive experience for learning, and ultimately support the learning of spoken language and help children with special needs to resolve other issues in terms of behavior and learning.
Lions Clubs International was established in 1917, as of April 2015, more than 46,000 clubs has been set up in 209 countries worldwide, with over 1.4 million members. It is the world’s largest service club organization. Beijing Lions Club currently has more than 60 clubs and 2,000 members. It has been providing support to hearing impaired children and also supporting hearing-impaired children from poor families. Lions Club also provides teacher training and financial resources to hearing impaired children in hearing impairment rehabilitation institutions in the poor areas. The Lions Club has also assisted private hearing impaired rehabilitation agencies to integrate social resources in order to improve their service levels, enhance the effect of hearing impairment rehabilitation. The Club also uses social resources to offer hearing-impaired children integrated education programs, so that the hearing-impaired children can enter the mainstream learning environment as soon as possible and return to the mainstream society. So far, these programs have benefited thousands of children’s already. Mr. Ye Ke was invited to communicate with the US educational institute involved in hearing impairment rehabilitation programs so they can lay a good foundation for further cooperation in the future.