HOPE School prepares local hearing impaired students for the hearing world
There has been a growing habit among travelers of checking for any fussy infants before boarding a flight, or overhearing a conversation of someone talking loudly on a cell phone in line for coffee. These scenarios are often viewed as annoyances and nothing more.
Often people don’t acknowledge the ability of hearing as ability at all. It is an ingrained natural skill over 80 percent of the American population take for granted, according to the Center of Hearing and Communication in New York.
Of the roughly 38 million Americans who suffer from deafness or severe hearing loss, three million are children.
The HOPE school in Spokane is working tirelessly to reach those children with such hearing deficits.
HOPE is the Hearing Oral Program of Excellence that allows for intensive one on one therapy for children with cochlear implants, hearing aids and FM systems that assist kids in increasing their ability to hear.
The emphasis for the school is on hearing and spoken language, with “a goal to increase each child’s success in the mainstream hearing world,” HOPE development director Kim Schafer said. “It teaches the kids self advocacy.”
This is a truly individual program for teaching kids with hearing loss how to work with the technologies that enhance their abilities.
The school is divided into two sections based on age.The toddler group work with children from 18 months until about 3 years at which time they graduate to the proper program until age 6.
Aeden Scott, a kindergartner with the Cheney School District will graduate from HOPE this spring. Currently Aeden has a full day of school with mornings in his kindergarten class and afternoons at HOPE.
His mother Crystal Scott feels HOPE school is “a true blessing” to her family.
Aeden failed his newborn hearing test and had his first hearing assistance early on. However when the family moved to the West Plains from North Carolina, Crystal was blown away that her son would be placed in a classroom with children who have severe learning disabilities.
Scott knew it was the wrong environment for her son to grow and learn and fought to get him into a program that would foster the best possible education for her son.
“We sat down and there was no question. They told me ‘he’s going to HOPE school,’” Scott said when she met with the Cheney School District, after another move.
She is sad her son will have completed his time at HOPE, but is confident he will be able to fully integrate with the general education students when he starts first grade in the fall.
Before he was sent to HOPE school, Scott couldn’t communicate with her son, his speech consisted of “baby jargon” through his toddler years, but now she notices her son speaking in eloquent full sentences.
“You wouldn’t even know he had hearing loss,” said Scott.
Currently three Cheney kids are enrolled with HOPE and three Medical Lake students graduated from the program last year, including Kailey Grant.
Grant also failed her newborn hearing test and had early intervention with assistance in hearing and started in HOPE’s toddler program. Grant’s father, Ryan, is a teacher at Fairchild Air Force Base and felt his daughter being comfortable in the hearing world was important.
“It’s fun listening to her sound out the words,” Grant said of his daughter learning to read. “They taught me what it meant to be a parent of a deaf child.”
Grant is immensely thankful for the dedicated staff at HOPE for his daughter’s success in first grade, and now serves on their school board. These accomplishments for children do not come easily; HOPE employs a range of tactics to maximize each student’s understanding.
The classroom utilizes a certified “Teacher of the Deaf,” full-time speech-language pathologist and a small army of 45 graduate students to ensure an engaging and encouraging atmosphere for every student.
Every day the students are sent home with a detailed letter on the events of the day and recommendations on what to focus on at home – most hearing schools can’t offer that kind of dedication to their students.
The biggest obstacle the school faces is awareness of their program.
HOPE is a non-profit organization that relies on fundraisers to like an annual Ho-Down in the fall and the “Hear Me Run” 5k along the Centennial Trail this spring to continue their efforts.
The school is also working on a fundraiser with Central Valley High School to sell earplugs for a day to give hearing students insight to what hearing loss feels like.
HOPE school is a priceless tool for local families with children of hearing loss.
Kelsey Lavelle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.