Every May, the American-Speech-Language Association (ASHA) chooses a theme to celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month. This year’s theme is “Communication: The Key to Connection.”
ASHA, which is involved in providing life-altering treatments, aims to promote awareness of communication disorders. ASHA provides several resources to get the word out about Better Speech and Hearing Month, which are available free of charge on their website.
If you want to get involved, ASHA is also running a social media contest called “Speaking Up for Communication.” It doesn’t take much time, and it sounds like a lot of fun!
In keeping with this month’s theme of communication as the key to connecting with others, we wanted to highlight someone from Southern California who is doing her part to ensure children experiencing hearing loss are able to develop communication skills and confidence – two traits that will definitely assist them throughout their lives, wherever they may go!
The inspiring story of No Limits for Deaf Children
We all want to help out and contribute to causes we care about, but very few of us actually make this our life’s work. One of these few include Dr. Michelle Christie, the Executive Director of No Limits and a USC and UCLA graduate. She founded the charity No Limits for Deaf Children in 1996.
The goal of No Limits is to develop the communication skills of children who experience hearing loss from low-income families, and to increase focus on and access to higher education. This is done through an after-school theater program, which uses role-playing to improve public speaking skills and promote creativity.
Since beginning in the 1990s, No Limits has produced over 100 original shows in 13 states with full casts of children with hearing loss. Over 200,000 audience members have come out to see these shows, including the seminal performance of their show Silent NO MORE at the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Due to the huge successes of the theater program, Dr. Christie decided to expand the charity to include auditory, speech and language training for children from low-income backgrounds, and their families. The program is very college-focused and encourages children to develop the skills necessary to get to college, while also talking to parents about college and exploring options with them.
High accolades for a high-achieving charity
Last month, Dr Christie was selected as a CNN Hero due to her achievements with the No Limits program. This award is bestowed upon ten “everyday people doing extraordinary things to change the world” each year, with each recipient gifted $50,000 and the overall winner of 10 awarded $250,000.
One of the really novel things about Dr Christie’s program is that she makes sure to involve parents as well. It can be very expensive to provide the additional resources that a child with hearing loss requires. Dr Christie noticed from an early stage that so many parents end up working longer hours to try and provide these resources, but this translates to less quality time with their children.
That’s why, when parents come to the sessions, there are people on-hand to not only involve them, but also to provide education and training to parents, focusing on advocacy skills as well as legal and policy rights.
If you’d like to read the CNN Heroes interview with Dr Christie about her work, it is available here.
Why the work of No Limits is so important
There are so many reasons why the work that No Limits does is really important. Providing educational specialized services to children who may otherwise not be able to afford it is clearly hugely vital. One benefit that may be less obvious, however, is how much hearing loss is linked with issues such as anxiety, social exclusion and depression – and how improving communication skills can help to ameliorate these issues.
Difficulties communicating have been directly linked with frustration, loneliness, increased dependency and isolation. Several studies have looked at these links, particularly within the aging population, but considering the pressures that children face in terms of “fitting in” and “being cool”, it is no wonder that these links exist for children experiencing hearing loss as well.
By improving confidence, public speaking skills and communication skills overall, No Limits is setting children up for an enriched, successful life. It’s pretty inspiring stuff!
Fidelity Hearing Center
If you think that you may be experiencing hearing loss yourself, reach out to one of our team members today. Our comprehensive hearing evaluation includes a discussion with our audiologist, Dr. Dekriek, to learn about your lifestyle and all of your hearing needs. We can work with you to find the right fit and discuss your treatment options. We invite you to contact our practice today to schedule a hearing test with audiologist Dr. Dekriek.