Hearing specialist will hold workshops

Friday, March 8, 2002

Ellen Rhoades, a cochlear implant user, says deaf children no longer need to be deaf or go to a school for the deaf.

Rhoades, an auditory verbal therapist who has provided audio-verbal training to parents and teachers internationally for the past 22 years, will be in Oran, Mo., next week to share her training with parents and teachers of deaf children.

"AV training enables children with hearing loss, both hearing aid users and cochlear implant users, to hear," Rhoades said, adding that regardless of which hearing prosthesis is used, the audio-verbal approach teaches children how to listen.

"And because they learn to understand what they hear," she said, "they learn our spoken language."

Rhoades made her first trip to Oran last fall to work with 2-year-old Liam Wilsey who has a cochlear implant. Since then Liam's mother, Chris Wilsey, said her son has increased his vocabulary by 600 percent.

Wilsey calls Rhoades a godsend.

"Before Liam was learning a handful of words per month and now he is learning a handful of words every day," Chris Wilsey said.

When Rhoades visited with the Wilseys in November, she expressed an interest in having a workshop at the elementary school.

"We happen to be a super small district, but we have four children who are hearing impaired," said William Fredenburg, principal of Oran Elementary School.

Fredenburg said he is excited to have Rhoades work with professionals in his school.

And so is Chris Wilsey.

She said she is glad to know her son will be going to school in a district where the officials are willing to go the extra mile to provide the best opportunities for her son.

"I think that the professionals in this area have a lot to learn about how to help deaf children, but I think we have an abundance of people who want to learn and are willing to try hard to fill that void," Wilsey said. "What the Oran School District is doing is making services available so that all deaf children who wish to learn to speak will have that as an option regardless of their income."

Hearing aids amplify sound so what is heard is acoustic in nature. Cochlear implants provide electrical hearing as the sounds bypass the person's damaged auditory nerves.

Rhoades said the more severe the hearing loss, the less effective hearing aids are.

Hearing aids tend to amplify sounds in the lower to mid-frequency range, whereas cochlear implants tend to better transmit sound in the mid- to high range, she said. Because most speech information is in the mid- to high range, cochlear implants are better for most people with profound deafness.

Rhoades' mission is to teach the public that deaf children can hear and speak and don't need to be committed to a world of silence.

Monday and Tuesday, 25 teachers, parents and speech therapists from the area will attend Rhoades' workshops at Oran Elementary School. Rhoades is scheduled to work individually with children, their parents and teachers for the rest of the week.

hkronmueller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

Fredenburg said there are still a few spaces available for people interested in attending Rhoades' workshops on Monday and Tuesday. The cost is $100.

hkronmueller@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 128

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