Out of the 50,000 babies born each year in Oklahoma, about 150 of them will be born deaf or with significant hearing impairment.
A hearing test administered in birthing hospitals within a day or so of each birth can help detect problems early. Others don't find out about their child's hearing loss until weeks, months or even years after their birth.
But at any stage of development, the Oklahoma City nonprofit organization Hearts for Hearing works to help these babies hear the world around them. And this week, the Chi Omega sorority's Oklahoma City alumnae chapter is hosting a fashion show to help raise money for this important service.
“We believe that early intervention services provide the best outcome for these children,” said Kris Hopper, director of development for Hearts for Hearing.
Hearts for Hearing offers free hearing aids specially made for the infant.
“We provide the first set of hearing aids for nearly every baby born with hearing loss in the state,” Hopper said. “We also teach these young ones to learn, to listen and to talk.”
In addition to the hearing aids, Hearts for Hearing promotes listening and spoken language therapy and states on its website that “typical listening and spoken language outcomes should be expected for babies who are diagnosed shortly after birth, fit with hearing aids in the first weeks of life, and enrolled in auditory-verbal therapy before 3 months of age.” Hearts for Hearing also offers a preschool that integrates hearing and hearing-impaired children to further the listening and spoken language therapy approach.