Hearing Our Way, a new magazine aimed at helping kids and teens with hearing loss connect with each other, premieres this summer at the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Biannual Convention in Orlando, Florida.
The magazine is the brainchild of Melanie Paticoff, M.S.D.E., who was inspired to create the award-winning series of Sophie's Tales children's books by her cousin, Julie, who wears bilateral cochlear implants.
"Hearing Our Way provides an opportunity for children and teens to not only read about but connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges with hearing loss," Paticoff said. "The magazine teaches kids and teens to celebrate their differences and provides vital social and emotional support to young people during their formative years."
Paticoff said the magazine helps kids in even the most remote areas of the country who may be the only ones in the school district with hearing loss read about others with the same disability and understand they are not going through this alone. In addition to the magazine, Paticoff said her company is also looking to connect hearing impaired children and teens in other ways.
"We are beginning to build a vibrant social community of young people with hearing loss, with networks that include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest," she said. "We will also be hosting in-person events, the first of which will be a special creativity workshop for the children's program during the Alexander Graham Bell convention in Orlando this June. We hope to replicate these workshops during various conferences and school visits across the country."
The magazine is an effective discussion starter for students of all ages, reading levels and hearing ability. "Disability and diversity awareness are big trends in mainstream schools today and I believe mainstream teachers are looking for resources like this to share with their students," she said.
Paticoff, who quickly realized the lack of products or publications for children like Julie, founded Sophie's Tales LLC, an educational publishing company which supports children with hearing loss and cochlear implants. The company creates innovative kid-friendly resources with parent and teacher-friendly language, literacy and listening content.
"I definitely feel that students with typical hearing can also benefit from resources like Hearing Our Way," Paticoff said. "Awareness about hearing loss, hearing aids and cochlear implants helps remove stigma about it -- knowledge is power! This was certainly the case for me. Initially, as a kid, cochlear implant surgery sounded scary to me at first, but once it was explained to me I understood it and became completely supportive without any fear. I always want to remember that the friends and family with typical hearing are affected by hearing loss as well."
Hearing is critical for development of speech, language, communication skills and learning. The younger the child, the more probable serious communication delays will occur if the disability is not identified and properly treated. Research indicates infants younger than six months who receive services for hearing loss develop language skills on schedule with their peers.
Congress passed the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program in 2000. The program includes screening infants for hearing loss, audiological diagnostic evaluations, and early intervention services to enhance language, communication, cognitive and social skill development necessary to be successful in school. As a result, children with hearing loss are being mainstreamed into public school systems at an earlier age.
Subscribers will begin finding Hearing Our Way in their mailboxes this June. The first issue will feature stories from role models with hearing loss, advice, tips and lessons in self advocacy. Subscriptions are complimentary for families, schools, organizations, audiologists and physician's offices. Interested parties should visit www.HearingOurWay.com for more information and to sign up for the first issue.