As Dr. Amanda Smith fitted 14-year-old Kristan Davis with her new hearing aids Tuesday, the teen’s mom failed to fight back tears.
“Are they too soft, too loud or just about right?” Smith asked.
Kristan replied, “Just right.”
For Carley Davis, knowing her daughter could now hear even low-pitched voices from across a room was a gift that came along at just the right time.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you is not even enough.”
Kristan of Diana and 5-year-old Brody Adams of Chapel Hill received new hearing aids and three years’ services — an $8,000 value — at no cost. The gifts from NewSound Clinic of Longview were in recognition of Better Hearing and Speech Month.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Brody’s mom, Jackie Adams. “I really don’t know what else to say. It means so much to know that he’ll be able to hear and get into a speech therapy program.”
Each May, Better Hearing and Speech Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association members in providing life-altering treatment, according to www.asha.org. This year’s theme is “Communication Takes Care.”
Longview Mayor Andy Mack was on hand to read a proclamation announcing May as Better Hearing and Speech Month for the city.
Brody attends classes at the Tyler Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center, and Kristan goes to the Longview Regional Day School for the Deaf. Both schools provide itinerant teachers and self-contained classes for hard-of-hearing, school-aged children.
“We’re trying to change the stigma of hearing loss in our community and show that you can be proud of your hearing instruments,” said NewSound clinician and part-owner Jason Williams. “We are honored to give back to our community in this way.”
Mack, Davis and others tried and failed Tuesday to get Kristan to talk about her new hearing aids. She nodded agreeably when asked if she liked the devices, which are made with disappearing molds to blend right into her ears.
Davis said her daughter was once vibrant, cheerful and active. That changed at about the first grade, as she struggled in her class work at Ore City schools.
Teachers said it might be an intellectual disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder because she couldn’t concentrate. Davis said there also was concern that Kristan’s ongoing kidney issues perhaps played a role.
Mom wasn’t convinced. Kristan excelled in her studies when working at home, but the struggles happened during class, Davis said. Kristan’s doctor set her up for a hearing test, and the results revealed she had significant hearing impairment.
“She’s very shy,” Davis said. “She’s very reserved, but she wasn’t always that way, and once we hit that rough struggle, this is where we went to. So, we just hope and pray that as she learns and catches up and understands more, we kind of see Kristan again.”
At 9, Kristan received her first set of hearing aids. However, Davis lost one of the aids several months ago. Complicating matters, her husband recently was laid off from the energy industry.
Kristan has been borrowing hearing aids from her school the past few months, Davis said.
“When you can hear, it opens the world, and when you can’t, everything is shut out,” Davis said.
For Jackie Adams, knowing her son can hear her voice is priceless.
For the past year, Adams has battled Stage 4 breast cancer.
“Just knowing Brody is able to hear and get everything that he possibly can, it’s a blessing,” Adams said.
Before getting his new hearing aids Tuesday, Brody could hear, but not well enough to speak, she said. His hearing impairment was harder to diagnose than that of his 11-year-old sister, Madison, who is completely deaf. Madison uses a cochlear implant inserted surgically and funded by Medicaid.
“(Brody) will be able to start going and get the speech therapy he needs,” Adams said. “It’s amazing.”
Williams said getting new hearing aids at a young age can “radically change” Kristan’s and Brody’s lives, as opposed to growing up and developing without being able to hear.