BENEFITING: Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech
Because she’d passed her newborn hearing screening, Reem Azzi’s parents were stunned when, at 20 months, she was diagnosed with a hearing loss.
Reem was quite advanced in her motor skill development — even walking at eight months — but when she wasn’t speaking by 18 months, her parents requested another screening. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Reem was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss in one ear, and severe hearing loss in the other. Puzzled by the fact that there was no hearing loss on either side of the Azzi family, the Azzis learned that more than 90% of children with hearing loss are born to parents with typical hearing.
Fortunately, Reem was a candidate for a cochlear implant, which she received at two years old. The implant sends sound signals directly to the auditory nerve to create access to sound.
While this device provided Reem with access to sound, it did not offer her the tools and instruction to make meaning of that sound. So following her surgery, Reem received Early Intervention (EI) services from Clarke Boston. The Clarke team worked closely with the family in many capacities, including providing the family with a Teacher of the Deaf, SLP-A, holding customized family learning sessions at their home and assisting the Azzis with Reem’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).
“Clarke guided us through every option we had to choose from. I actually have them on speed dial!” says Reem’s mom Ghania.
Reem began preschool at Clarke’s Boston campus soon after her third birthday and has soared in a very short time. Barely speaking when she began, Reem now chats easily in full sentences; self-advocates to be sure she is heard; and is known for her highly social and caring personality. She loves school, especially on theme days like “Tickle Friday.” When New Year’s Day fell on a Friday, Reem woke up and immediately asked her mom, “No Tickle Friday today?”
Please note that the Azzi family is not raising money for their daughter on this page. Rather, they are sharing her story so that other children with hearing loss can receive the same specialized support that their daughter has enjoyed.
Your donation to Clarke will help enable other children with hearing loss to learn to listen and talk just like Reem did!