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June 29, 2005

Panel tells of challenges of hearing problems

From: Community Journal North Clermont, OH - Jun 29, 2005

By Michelle Shaw Staff Reporter

Ninety percent of deaf children are born to parents who have no hearing problems. Regina and Allen Bishop of West Union had two children who can hear just fine and never thought when they gave birth to their third child, Corbin, that he would be any different.

The couple didn't know that Regina was carrying an aggressive genetic disorder, Connection 26, that causes hearing loss. The Bishops first found out about their son's condition because of state required universal newborn hearing screening when he was in the hospital.

"When I first saw the term audiology on his bed, I had no idea what it meant and I was fearing the worst," Regina said.

Corbin was born almost eight weeks premature and was fighting a variety of other struggles that kept the family concerned.

"When we found out that he was deaf, there was a time when we were very depressed, but it's only a big deal if you make it one," Regina said.

Before Corbin left the hospital, the Bishops were referred to the Clermont County Regional Hearing Center.

"This is an extremely difficult time for families, it is often quite a shock to the parents. It is our job to expose the family involved in our program to a variety of communication options," said regional hearing center Director Beth Popich.

The center was created out of money from a Ohio Department of Health grant and serves children from birth to 3 years in nine counties surrounding Clermont County.

The primary role of the center is to meet with families on a weekly basis to help them understand hearing loss and show them the options that are available to them, said Popich.

The center also provides a monthly newsletter, speech development, signing classes, early intervention, workshops to help transition to school and a yearly panel meeting.

The deaf and hard of hearing panel on May 17 allowed parents like the Bishops to meet with adults who have faced the same challenges that Corbin is facing now.

Five volunteers shared their stories, with parents and employees of the center showing how education and understanding of the deaf community has grown.

"It was so interesting to sit down and hear their stories, to know the decisions that their parents made and that they made and to see where they are now," Regina said.

The panel talked about struggles at school and in the work place. For one panelist it took more than five years for doctors to diagnose her as being deaf.

"Doctors told my mother that she talked to much and that if she would talk less I would start talking," Carolyn Wells said.

The panel ranged in hearing options also. Some chose a cochlear implant, others use hearing aids and others have chosen to forgo any option to aid in hearing.

The Bishops have chosen to attempt the cochlear implant with Corbin. At 23 months he would be the youngest child to have the implant placed in his opposite ear, meaning that the implant will be placed on the left side where Corbin is completely deaf rather than the right where he has 80 percent hearing loss.

The Bishops are one of 60 families that in the region that the center works with one on one.

"I don't know where we would be without this,' Regina said. "They have gotten us through some pretty difficult times."

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