From: North Little Rock, AR
Before he started using hearing aids, Leo was a happy child, but he was somewhat intimidated by adults. His family noticed that his language skills weren’t developing at the same rate as other kids his age, and they decided to have his hearing checked. Once he was diagnosed with severe sensorineural hearing loss and got his devices, he adapted quickly and became even more joyous and inquisitive. He developed a true sense of confidence and love for life, and he hasn’t slowed down since.
Because his hearing loss wasn’t identified until he was a few years old, Leo started kindergarten a bit developmentally behind his classmates. But with the help of his hearing devices, his language development has progressed and he has excelled in school. He has risen above and beyond everyone’s expectations and has never let hearing loss stop him from trying anything.
“The tremendous leap in language and the self confidence is evident when watching a school program before hearing aids with no participation [as compared to] hearing his voice singing since receiving [hearing] aids,” his mother Michelle says.
His devices have also given him the confidence to succeed greatly in other areas of his life, like Tae Kwon Do. At just six years old, he’s only one step away from becoming a black belt, the highest skill level awarded.
Leo’s mother says that he “has been a great advocate for himself and others.” He is not afraid to let others know that he uses hearing aids, and he will also speak up for other children who might have special needs. He has also helped to start a program called the Key Project, which brings deaf and hard-of-hearing students who are mainstreamed together with those who attend a local deaf school so that they can develop a bond and strengthen awareness in the community.
“I want to be a leader and show how to wear hearing aids,” he says. “It’s going to be okay. It tickles when they make the ear mold, and it can take time to get used to them, but you can have more fun [once you have them].”
Leo has risen above and beyond expectations to succeed in school, Tae Kwon Do, and advocacy for himself and others through the Key Project. He has an amazing sense of self-confidence and passion for life that is evident in everything he does.
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