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July 23, 2005

Camp helps area hearing-impaired children

From: Edmond Sun, OK - Jul 23, 2005


The Edmond Sun

OKLAHOMA CITY - Michael Goldbeck is a fairly typical 8-year-old. The Clegern Elementary School third-grader likes to swim, visit interesting places like the Omniplex and he occasionally gets into trouble at home.

But when Michael swims, before he gets into the water, he has to take off the equipment that helps him hear.

When Michael was about 17 months old, he was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss. He passed the initial newborn hearing screen. His parents, Andy and Sylvia Goldbeck, learned of his condition when he couldn't hear his mother calling his name from another room.

About a year ago, Michael received his second bilateral cochlear implant through the Integris Baptist Medical Center's Cochlear Implant Clinic in Oklahoma City.

"Now he's much more comfortable," Sylvia Goldbeck said. "Just a small amount of extra hearing made such a big difference."

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device, surgically placed under the skin behind the ear, that can help provide a sense of sound to a person with hearing loss. An implant has a microphone, a speech processor, a transmitter-receiver-stimulator and electrodes.

While hearing aids amplify sound, cochlear implants bypass damaged or non-functioning parts of the inner ear.

Changing lives

Integris sponsors the Health Hearing Enrichment Language Program (HELP) at the Hough Ear Institute at Our Lord's Community Church, 11400 N. Portland Ave.

During the past week, metro-area school-aged children participated in the "Amazing Race," learning about world geography and at the same time learning about themselves.

Through the program, children develop their speaking skills, which helps them get into regular public school classes, said Dr. Teresa Caraway, HELP clinical education director.

Caraway said the program also focuses on developing listening skills, and it gives children many language learning opportunities.

"It's a wonderful thing just for that," Sylvia Goldbeck said. "Michael also gets to meet other kids like him."

Michael quickly recalled that he first attended the camp at age 2. He has been a regular ever since.

On Wednesday afternoon, Michael said his favorite activities included going to an Asian food market, learning about bamboo "mats" and participating in a scavenger hunt.

Earlier in the week, Michael and the other campers learned how to be even more polite when they dressed up for tea at Inspirations Tea Room, 2118 W. Edmond Road.

Sylvia Goldbeck said through the camp she has met the parents of other hearing-impaired children and gained support that helps her.

Michelle Webb, the mother of camper Connor Sullivan, agreed. Connor wears traditional hearing aids in both ears. Connor said without them, he only hears fuzzy noises and he can't understand speech. At age 4 he was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss.

Connor said he wants to be a meteorologist when he grows up and that his favorite TV weatherman is KWTV-9's Gary England.

Like the other Edmond campers, Connor attends regular classes. He will be an eighth-grader this fall at Cimarron Elementary School. And like the other parents, Webb had high praise for how Edmond Public Schools has helped their children.

"It kind of lets you get to know the other kids and get to work with the younger kids," Connor said.

Connor and Dylan Dunlap are both mentors and classroom assistants. Dylan, 13, is the son of Pat and Michelle Dunlap. He will be a seventh-grader at Central Middle School. Dylan wears a hearing aide in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other.

Michelle Dunlap said the HELP staff is professional and has been integral in Dylan's personal development.

"He likes working with the younger kids and it's so exciting as a parent to see how they react to him," Michelle Dunlap said.

An extremely active, avid sports fan, Dylan wants to be a professional golfer when he grows up. He proudly said he met Tiger Woods once in Chicago.

Dylan said when he takes all of his equipment off he can hear "a little bit." And when he swims, he can hear better; he said he has learned that water amplifies sound.

HELP camper Layton Pike, 7, the son of Rod and Heather Pike, will be a first-grader this fall at Cross Timbers Elementary School.

Layton was born with regular hearing, Heather Pike said. When he was 22-months-old he contracted meningitis, a life-threatening inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.

As a result of the meningitis, Layton suffered profound hearing loss and wears a cochlear implant in his right ear and a hearing aid in the other.

"HELP has made a huge difference, not only in his life but in our lives," Heather Pike said. "It's been a very important part of his development."

Today, Layton is an extremely outgoing, energetic youngster who enjoys talking to just about anybody who will listen, Heather Pike said. Layton said Friday afternoon at Wiley Post Airport he got to sit in an airplane cockpit and pretend he was a pilot.

Camper Peter Hardt, the son of Mike and Jan Hardt, will begin kindergarten this fall in a regular class at Northern Hills Elementary School. Peter has equal, profound hearing loss in both ears and has a bilateral cochlear implant in each.

There is no medical explanation for the cause of Peter's extremely rare type of hearing loss, Jan Hardt said.

"He knows nothing else," Jan Hardt said. "At age 3 he became aware of the fact that he was different from other children."

Peter soaks up geography like a sponge and the "Amazing Race" was perfect for him, Jan Hardt said. Studying the names of the states and capitol cities helped him learn how to read. He said he can identify most of the state capitols.

During this week, campers learned about places like Asia, Italy, England and Africa. Campers have witnessed a Tae Kwon Do exhibition and been on an Italian gondola ride through Bricktown. Friday morning they toured Express Ranch, and Friday afternoon they visited Wiley Post Airport.

(Education reporter Mark Schlachtenhaufen may be reached via e-mail at

Copyright © 2005 The Edmond Sun, a subsidiary of Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.