Drew has a special ear, he boasts, but it wasn’t until the Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) screened his hearing that anyone knew about it. Drew was referred by SHA for a potential hearing concern after a screening at Mt. Olivet Preschool in Minneapolis. Ironically, he had just been to his four-year well-check visit at his pediatrician’s office a couple months before and passed the hearing test. His mom took him back to his pediatrician, who said it was probably a blockage due to a cold. A month later, they tested him and again said it was probably a cold. His mom persevered, taking him to see Laura Pett, an audiologist with Children’s Hospitals & Clinics in Minnetonka. A full hearing evaluation concluded that Drew had a unilateral hearing loss— an 85 percent high-frequency loss in his left ear.
“Looking back, the signs were all there, we just didn’t take them seriously,” Drew’s mom admits. “We lost him so many times in Target or Macy’s, where he would just drift off and not hear us calling him. I would ask him to get dressed, and he wouldn’t do it. We just thought he was being stubborn and didn’t want to listen. We had to repeat things all the time.” There is no way to know for sure how long Drew has had a hearing loss. He had his hearing screened as a newborn at the hospital and has been to all of his pediatric well-child visits— but it was never caught.
His audiologist recommended a hearing aid for Drew’s left ear, suggesting a six-month trial to see how it would work for him. Drew’s parents were unsure how a hearing aid would affect Drew, both socially and with his physical activities, such as soccer. A turning point in their decision occurred after a friend offered some advice. Turning to Drew’s dad, who has worn glasses since he was a child, she asked, “what if your parents would have told you that you could see just fine and they weren’t going to buy you the glasses you needed?” Convinced, Drew’s parents took him in for a fitting, where he chose some flashy ear molds—swirly red, white and blue— for his new hearing aid.
“We had that moment at the doctor’s office when he first put it in and turned it on,” his mom said. “His eyes lit up and he said, ‘Wow!’” Drew’s parents have noticed differences, too. His speech is clearer, he does not get lost when shopping, and when it’s time to go to school he gets ready when his mom asks.
Drew’s parents said, “without the screening, I think we would have always thought he was stubborn and didn’t want to listen to us. Obviously, the pediatrician wasn’t catching it, so the screening from Sight & Hearing Association was definitely worth it— 100 percent!” And Drew understands how important his hearing aid is, when kids ask him about it he responds, “it’s my special ear and it helps me hear.”