You often hear the expression, “it takes a village to raise a child.” In the case of 3-year-old Noah Hasty of Ogden, that phrase rings true. Noah was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at two weeks of age, and with the support of his family, the Ogden Community Schools and his Heartland AEA team, he is making great strides in life and learning.
As there was no family history of significant hearing loss, Noah’s diagnosis was a new experience for the Hasty family. Upon receiving the news, Noah’s mother, Heather Hasty, immediately sought out resources that would help her son.
“The audiologist at the hospital gave us a list of all our options,” Heather said. “I spoke with the AEA and they started coming out. I wanted to give him every option available to make it easier for him.”
Heartland AEA staff began working with Noah when he was 3 months old. Noah’s parents and AEA staff discussed Noah’s condition and what his parents hoped he would achieve by working with the AEA. It was important to Heather that Noah develop sign language as well as spoken language.
“He is deaf and part of the Deaf community, but I wanted him to learn both outlets to enhance communication both ways,” Heather said.
Tori Carsrud, Heartland AEA itinerant hearing teacher, started working with Noah early on to help him learn both forms of communication. She visited the family’s home every week and used toys to help Noah learn more words and expand his knowledge base. Later Noah worked with Gail Kenkel and Emily Merrell, Heartland AEA speech-language pathologists, to work on his articulation and length of sentences.
Not only did the Heartland AEA staff work with Noah, they provided resources for his family and answered questions about his disability and treatment. Noah’s parents also learned some methods and strategies to practice with him at home to help his learning.
“Tori is always finding more that I could use to help Noah progress with his speech skills,” Heather said. “We found benefit in the AEA because it gave us the option to educate him ourselves. It educates us so that we can best educate Noah. The AEA is family-oriented and gave us tools to implement at home.”
Noah continues to work with his Heartland AEA hearing teacher and speech-language pathologist to enhance his communication skills as he attends preschool in Howe Elementary in Ogden. However, his personalized AEA services don’t stop there. Through early monitoring, it was found that Noah was a candidate to receive cochlear implants. Cochlear implants (CI) are devices that take the auditory stimuli in a person’s ear and covert it to electrical stimuli so that patients can hear. Heartland AEA audiologist, Cindy Moses, was assigned on the team of AEA professionals and University of Iowa medical audiologists that helped Noah transition into a modified hearing world.
“A child who gets cochlear implants has no point of reference to what sound is,” Moses said. “It takes a lot of training and stimulation to help the child make the connection that what they are hearing is sound. It takes some time to get used to it.”
When a child goes to school, the AEA takes a more active role in helping the school establish educational strategies and modifications to help the child succeed. Moses meets regularly with the Ogden school team to help create a supportive acoustic environment for Noah so that background noise is minimized, and he can focus on listening to his teacher.
“It’s really a team effort of the AEA staff, medical staff from Iowa City, Ogden staff and especially, Noah’s parents,” Moses said. “We all have worked collaboratively to get him where he is today.”
Carsrud also attributes Noah’s success to teamwork: “Noah has made leaps and bounds since his initial referral. He is now using three- and four-word sentences, has a large vocabulary bank that we can no longer keep tabs on and enjoys engaging in conversation with his peers at preschool. Noah’s progress is a direct reflection of his supportive family, strong service providers (Jessica Hanson, Cindy Moses, Gail Kenkel, Emily Merrell and myself) and the open dialogue between family and school.”