Meet little Milagro Alfaro who was born with Microtia and Atresia of her right ear. Milagro is four years old and also has Goldenhar Syndrome along with additional medical issues. Even though Milagro has better hearing in her left ear, she has struggled with chronic middle ear fluid that has impacted that ear’s access to sound, affecting annunciation and pronouncing vocabulary/language. Milagro’s family quickly realized she was struggling with her hearing when they tried teaching her Spanish. They noticed that she had difficulty learning Spanish and that she needed to be “taught” vocabulary and how to use language since it did not come naturally for her. In fact, Milagro has had little success learning English despite receiving speech and language services 2 times a week from the public school system. As a result, Milagro has been moved to a much more intensive program in the Deaf/Hard of Hearing preschool in hopes of meeting her needs better.
Recently, Milagro was given the opportunity to trial a Baha on a soft band to see if it would help her hear better. During this trial, Milagro’s family was amazed at how much she improved with her communication and desire to interact with others. She became more alert and excited to be around others. Unfortunately, Maryland Medical Assistance did not offer coverage for a Baha for little Milagro under the age of five, which are the years of critical development for speech and language skills. Milagro’s audiologists and family were very concerned that she was missing crucial time in her window of learning without having a Baha, especially after witnessing her struggle over the years already. Dr. Robyn Miller and Joan LaCoss researched helpful resources that could help little Milagro and found Ear Community. Little Malagro received a new Cochlear Baha 4 through Ear Community and was fitted on March 5th, 2014. Today, Milagro is already showing improvement and speaking more and she is looking forward to returning to school this fall to learn and experience what she has been missing out on now that she can hear better.
Ear Community is a nonprofit organization that helps the Microtia and Atresia community. Ear Community is so very thankful for the help that it receives and when other organizations come together to help Ear Community with its mission, to help children and adults born with Microtia and Atresia. “It is always something special to witness a child be given the gift of hearing,” says Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community. “Without the technology behind hearing devices and the support from hearing device companies like Cochlear Americas, children like Milagro would never be given the chance to hear better and experience life the way it was meant to be intended. Thank you to Cochlear Americas for helping little Milagro hear better and for donating a new Baha 4 processor to her so she can thrive in school,” says Melissa Tumblin.
A special thank you to Dr. Robyn Miller (educational audiologist) of Montgomery County Public Schools for helping Milagro’s family apply for a hearing device for her. Also, a very special thank you to Joan LaCoss of Children’s National Medical Center, who is Milagro’s clinical audiologist, for volunteering her time and services to program Milagro’s new Cochlear Baha 4 processor.
Ear Community would especially like to thank Kerri Lewandowski and Joanne Kernie of Cochlear Americas for donating a new Baha 4 to our foundation (which is a newer model processor that just recently launched a couple of months ago) so our foundation was able to help another child with hearing loss like Milagro. “Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. It has a dedicated global team of more than 2,500 people who deliver the gift of sound to those with hearing loss in over 100 countries. Its vision is to connect people, young and old, to a world of sound by offering life enhancing hearing solutions. In 2013, Cochlear celebrates 100,000 Baha System users – all with unique stories of how being able to hear again has impacted their lives. The Cochlear promise of “Hear Now. And Always” embodies the company’s commitment to providing its recipients with the best possible hearing performance today and for the rest of their lives.”
From all of us at Ear Community, thank you to everyone who was involved with helping Milagro hear better and helping her to thrive with her speech and language skills from here on out!
Founder of Ear Community
Ear Community Board Members