Dozens of families recently attended the first ever HEAR Houston Resource Fair, presented by Texas Children’s Audiology Program.
HEAR (Hearing Education, Awareness and Resources) Houston – held in collaboration with the Division of Otolaryngology and the Speech, Language and Learning Clinic – was designed to bring families of children living with hearing loss together, and to educate them about some of the numerous resources, programs and services available in the greater Houston area.
“Sometime such tremendous focus is placed on providing the right diagnosis and identifying the right treatment path for a child that is deaf or hard of hearing that care givers might discount the fact that the parents need help too,” said Dr. Wendy Steuerwald, director of Audiology at Texas Children’s. “We wanted to comprehensively highlight resources that both our patients and parents have benefited from, bring them here to Texas Children’s, and give people an opportunity to connect with one another and get the information they need.”
HEAR Houston featured more than a dozen vendors and exhibitors, selected with input from Texas Children’s audiologists and patient families. These vendors offered expertise and guidance on a broad spectrum of interrelated services and resources, including:
- The latest in hearing aids, cochlear implants and caption telephones
- Community outreach programs
- Parent support groups
- Educational audiology and services in schools
- Speech-Language therapy
- Deaf education
- The transition from pediatric to adult audiology
The event also featured programs at Texas Children’s, including upWORDS – designed to help parents learn how to improve their child’s early language – and the Speech, Language and Learning Clinic, which provides evaluation, management and consultation for infants, children, adolescents and adults who have problems with communication, learning, feeding and swallowing.
The offering of resources was so comprehensive, even the vendors were impressed.
“Texas Children’s staff and physicians provided a wonderful venue for learning what resources are available for children who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Sara Smith from Guide By Your Side™ – a family support program offered by Texas Hands & Voices™ that pairs families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing with trained parent guides who have walked in their shoes and can share their experiences, as well as direct families to information and resources. “It was truly wonderful to see ‘the village’ coming together – with so many support agencies, technology companies and educational programs present – to ensure each unique child has the opportunity to reach their potential.”
The response has been extremely positive. Plans are already being made to make HEAR Houston an annual event. But one of the most exciting developments is a plan to create a parent support group.
“To feel successful raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, parents seek the advice of other parents in similar situations – they want to interact with and learn from them,” Steuerwald said. “Our goal with this event was really to build a community. A support group will allow parents to socialize their children with other children with similar conditions, and it will continue to foster parent-to-parent education and discussion.”