Jackie D’Costa is your typical mother. She loves her three boys and wants them to have the same opportunities as other children.
When her middle child, Nicholas, now eight, was preparing to enroll in kindergarten, he took the recommended hearing and sight tests. At the same time, D’Costa had concerns about her youngest, seven-year-old Michael, who was then three-and-half, and barely speaking. Tests confirmed her two youngest boys had hearing loss — Nicholas with moderate and Michael with severe.
Because of the severity of Michael’s hearing loss, he was equipped immediately with hearing aids and a FM system (a frequency modulated system designed to help in difficult listening situations).
Nicholas, on the other hand, gradually moved from using a FM sound field system installed in the classroom to wearing a hearing aid and using FM systems within two years.
“I wish I had known about VOICE because that’s the kind of the stuff where parents have gone through it and can tell you all the little tricks,” said D’Costa. “Audiologists provide great support but when you get it from a parent (you receive) the practical experience.”
VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children is a parent support group for families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. In chapters in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, the network provides education, parent support, workshops and other resources. D’Costa stumbled across the group through online research about hearing loss.
Since September 2010, she has travelled every two months to attend the Edmonton chapter meetings.
But that could change if she succeeds in forming a central Alberta subgroup of the Edmonton chapter in Red Deer where parents can attend the meetings through distance education with technology.
“The needs are being met at school but as parents we need to do more than that because our kids just don’t go to school,” said D’Costa, whose three boys attend Koinonia Christian School.
“They are at home. They are in the community.”
She said parents need to do those extra things in their homes, for example, to help their children.
Since attending the workshops, D’Costa learned about new technologies, services and programs. D’Costa said if she could have gone through the whole experience again and learned about VOICE sooner, she would have done things more efficiently and easier.
“Parents love to help other parents,” she said. “I think that’s what motivates me. If someone were to phone me and say my son just got hearing aids, can we talk? Yes, let’s get together.”
To find out more information about the Edmonton chapter of VOICE, email email@example.com and contact, D’Costa at 403-302-3930.