Friday , May 7 2021

Mom watches a five-year-old son "blooms and grows" with a new early-learning program for deaf and hard-of-hearing children

When she was about 18 months old, Sonya Van Ee discovered that her son Noah had some hearing.

"She started doing some weird things at home," she said. "And so we went to the doctor who said he could get a hearing loss, and that started the way to get a diagnosis for him."

After a five-month trip that they sent "everywhere in the city" to various doctors, Noah, by then two, was diagnosed with serious to deep hearing.

"It basically means he lived in silence," said Van Ee.

Now five year old Noah is one of 10 students in Saskatoon who are Children Communication, Connectivity and Communities, an early-learning program for pre-school children who are deaf and shocked.

The classroom is in Sv. Theresa in the Lisieuk School and is administered by the Saskatchewan deaf and hearing aids. The program also works in Regina through public schools in Regina at Henri Janzen School.

The program can accommodate up to 16 students in Saskatoon and Regina, whether deaf, hard of hearing, or even having a relationship with the deaf community through a family member or close friend.

"Children who grow up in a community that does not have access to sign language or have no understanding of what it means to be deaf – it's very easy to leave this kid isolated and excluded," said Nairn Gillies, executive director of Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

In the program, children have access to both sign language and English.

Van Ee said through her son, she was able to see firsthand how giving access to a language can help children to grow and develop.

"We saw his trust," she said. "His little personality, as many languages, he just keeps blooming and growing – and finally we come to see and know the boy who is ours."

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