Our Founder Ciwa Griffiths, ED.D founder HEAR Center, formerly known as H.E.A.R. Foundation, in 1954. When I read her stories I remember why I wanted to work at HEAR Center . I had learned about Ciwa Griffiths, a pioneer in fitting babies with hearing aids as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. When I was offered a job at HEAR Center in 1983 I was excited to follow in her footsteps. Seeing a baby hear for the first time is a life changing experience. For more stories click here
In her own words:
Thirty-five day old profoundly deaf Diane lay on her mother’s lap idly moving her arms and legs but inattentive to her surroundings. The fourth child in her family to be born deaf, her deafness had been anticipated and confirmed within a week of birth. This was the day she was to get her hearing aids.
Gently I inserted a mold in each ear. I turned the right aid on and the volume up. Suddenly Diane stilled. When I turned the left aid on, her stillness intensified. I moved the controls to give her more sound and eyes widened. “She smiled and gave a happy gurgle. I shook a rattle to the side and behind her head; she turned her head in that direction. It was the first time her mother had seen her respond to any sound at all.
I turned on a music box on the other side; again she turned towards the sound. Holding a soft stuffed cat in front of her, I said, “This is a kitty. The kitty says meow, meow, meow. Touch the kitty; it’s soft. It says meow, meow, meow.” Picking up a rubber cow, I again held it in front of her. “This is a cow. It says MOOOO, MOOO.”
I held one toy animal after another where she could see it as I gave the sound it makes. I said the words as I would to any baby. By the end of initial lesson, Diane had heard for the first time all the vowel sound in the English language and listened to the up and down cadence of my voice in normal rate and rhythm. She paid attention to each toy.
After we set up an appointment for her next lesson, I advised Mrs. Jenkins to take the aids off for the freeway drive home so needn’t worry about the aids while she was driving. Just as soon as the aids were removed, Diane started crying piteously. Her mother checked for the problem: wetness, pins, hunger--- all to no avail. Comforting her didn’t help either.
“I know!” I exclaimed. “She wants to hear. Let’s put her aids back on.” When they were returned to her ears, the crying stopped and Kane was happy, laughing baby again. This was 1956 when aids were rarely given to profoundly deaf children, much less babies.
Diane grew up to flourish in the world of the hearing. She and many others like her are reasons I dedicated my to helping deaf children enter the world of sound. As many times as I saw that moment of sudden stillness when a deaf child heard for the first time, it never failed to me with over whelming significance.