Our son, Ayden, has mild to severe hearing loss in both ears that was identified at birth. When he turned three, he received an IEP plan (Individualized Education Plan). For Ayden to be successful in an inclusive classroom he needed a number of vital pieces. An inclusive classroom has both mainstream students and students with IEP’s. Included in his IEP plan were two essential pieces: The Roger FM transmitter, and a Hearing Itinerant.
Each day, when Ayden arrives at school his teachers connect the Roger transmitter to the receivers on the back of his hearing aids. The Roger system picks up where hearing aids are limited, depending on noise and distance. We didn’t need to have it on all the time, but when distance and noise were present, it was a vital; essential tool to have. This gives Ayden full access to all that his teachers are instructing inside the classroom. At the end of class, the teachers place the Roger FM system back on the shelves for the next day.
This was the first time Ayden had ever used a Roger system. We saw results immediately. His speech became more clear, his vocabulary expanded, and he was gaining confidence.
In our school district, we have hearing teachers or a Hearing Itinerant. These teachers are nothing short of angels. They are Ayden’s advocates, as well as, teachers. Within the first few weeks of Ayden’s class, his hearing Itinerant read to his whole class a book about hearing loss, hearing aids and the Roger system.
They function similar to a speech pathologist, but their focus is not mainly on speech. They are the point person when it comes to all things hearing for Ayden. They work on building vocabulary, hearing skills, and self-advocacy. For example, when Ayden’s hearing aid batteries go out in the middle of class, they teach Ayden how to tell his teacher. They train and support Ayden’s main teacher about hearing loss, and how hearing loss specifically impacts Ayden. I cannot emphasize enough how vital their role is in Ayden’s education success.
When Ayden started school, and I saw all the pieces fall into place. I felt grateful that he had access to an amazing education. We lived in a school district that provided so much assistance, and this school system had the financial resources to provide such great technology.
Despite the feelings of thankfulness, there was a lingering question that keeping nagging me – why does this amazing system stay behind those closed doors each day? All of those benefits, which we are so grateful to have at school did not come home with our son.
Education does not end at the end of a school day. Children are constantly learning and I wanted him to have access to all of those lessons at home as well as school. The questions continued to haunt me until I finally called up my son’s hearing teacher and asked her:
“Does Ayden need an FM system at home? If it benefits him so well at school, why isn’t there a push to have it at home? If money was not an option, would you recommend my son having a Roger system at home?”
“Does Ayden need an FM system at home? If it benefits him so well at school, why isn’t there a push to have it at home?”
Without hesitation, she said, “There is not a doubt in my mind that Ayden would greatly benefit from using the Roger System at home.” She continued to educate me, point me to articles and websites. She answered questions that I had and helped me process through what might be best for our family. She even let us borrow the Roger device for a weekend.
With the support of the teachers, we had the ability to use the system all weekend to see for ourselves how this system would benefit our child at home. Immediately, we could see the ease of tension our son experienced. Not only was he less frustrated, I was too. There was less repeating and more fluid conversation. We used the Roger for walks, and bike rides. I clipped it on while reading books at a noisy library. Then, I handed it to the librarian to use when she had her own story time. We took it to our church and let his teacher use it in class and then when we went out to lunch we used it at a loud restaurant.
Looking back, to say that Ayden would benefit from it greatly feels like an understatement. What she could have said is that it would change his life.
It would open up millions of possible conversations we, not just his teachers, but his father and I could have with him. She could have said your life as a mother would change; there would be less anxiety and less stress.
I wanted my son to play soccer and basketball, to go on bike rides, and play at the park without feeling like he was missing so much. Being a partner with my children’s teachers is an important value we have as a family. If he needed the Roger in the classroom, why was he not having access to the Roger in all the other areas of his life that learning takes place? This included the library, soccer practice, the zoo, museums, the playground, and the list can go on and on.
Hearing aids are amazing, but having hearing aids while using the Roger system is a miracle.
Using the Roger system at school and at home is not an added perk – it is an essential part of a student with hearing loss’ education. Education does not just happen in the classroom but in every part of Ayden’s day.
If you have not experienced the Roger system for your family yet, ask your teachers for a chance to try out the system at home, even a day. Get first-hand experience what it would be like for your family. Go into an investment wide-eyed of the benefits.
Additionally, most insurance companies do not have hearing aids or accessories on their approved list, but that doesn’t have to be a dead end. Ask your child’s teachers what resources there are for them. Let them be your guide to point you in the right direction.