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With amazing support, deaf woman crowned ‘Miss Amazing’

Miss Amazing

The first child in the state of Illinois – and one of the first in the USA – to be implanted with an Advanced Bionics body worn speech processor was recently crowned Miss Amazing California.

I first met Megan Swanson, a now 27-year-old with a profound, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, when she was two. Her family visited me to provide Auditory-Verbal therapy.

Although I do not recall the conversation I first had with her parents 25 years ago, I am confident I began by asking, “What is your vision for Megan’s future?” Their dreams had been shattered months before when Megan’s hearing loss was diagnosed. They were told that Megan will never speak, sing or dance.

Karen says she remembers thinking: just watch us prove you wrong.

So, the amazing journey began with a new vision, as Karen recalls.

“We wanted Megan to talk. Talk to family, friends and in our community, to learn to read, to go school in our neighborhood, go to college and do and be whatever she chooses.”

And, the amazing woman has done just that.

2017 Miss Amazing California

Miss AmazingMiss Amazing’s mission continues to inspire change by showcasing amazing contributions that girls and women with disabilities offer.

Megan has had many amazing achievements and continues to show the amazing things she can accomplish and is making her way with a career in the film industry. She follows her dreams and aspirations with intelligence, determination, and passion. Her charming ways and bubbly smile keep her moving forward over any hurdle. Megan says, “with a little luck I can do the impossible.”

Not just luck, but also an amazing path with an amazing team. 

Megan’s path to amazing

When Megan’s hearing loss was first diagnosed, her parents chose a team of supportive professionals to carry out their vision and plan for their daughter.

This included Auditory Verbal Therapy, or Listening and Spoken Language (LSL), a communication option for infants, toddlers, children with hearing loss and their families.  It is preferred by parents who want their child to listen and talk in the language primarily spoken in their home.

As a member of their team, I coached the Swanson’s following the guiding Principles of LSLS Auditory-Verbal Therapy. Auditory-Verbal therapy became a family lifestyle, not a session they attended once a week. They were committed to LSL Strategies, and talked, played, sang, and read to Megan daily. Hearing became integrated into Megan’s personality.  

“Hearing became integrated into Megan’s personality.” 

They had amazing dedication.

Amazing family and friends

The Swanson’s educated their family and friends and took advantage of their support.

Megan’s parents and often brothers and grandparents attended therapy sessions where I guided them how to teach Megan to listen and talk. Even Great Aunt Olga attended therapy sessions, developed a special bond and worked diligently with Megan.

They shared amazing love!

Despite being parents who both worked outside of home, Ron and Karen were committed to the Learning to Listen Sounds, Experience Books, rich learning experiences and all things involving listening and language learning.  Karen recalls sharing that Megan learned the word “truck” and they rejoiced momentarily. Then I encouraged her to teach Megan firetruck, pickup truck, dump truck…

She had amazing perseverance!

Amazing hearing technology

Megan was born before cochlear implants were FDA approved for children, so she wore hearing aids all waking hours. But with the hearing technology from the ‘90s, Megan could not access all the sounds for speech.

Her therapists and audiologists were aggressive in helping Megan hear, as every decibel counted. The Swanson’s even traveled to see an audiologist across the country who was doing amazing work with pediatric hearing aid fittings. 

Eventually, she became the first child in the state of Illinois – and one of the first in the USA – to be implanted with an Advanced Bionics body worn speech processor. 

They had amazing love and commitment, to ensure she had the most amazing hearing technology. 

Amazing education

When Megan was four years old she was enrolled in a neighborhood preschool  – until the school realized she was deaf. 

The Swanson’s were disappointed,  but maintained their vision and transferred Megan to another preschool with hearing peers.

Prior to her first day of kindergarten, Megan’s parents had her class relocated away from the music and band room for a quieter listening and learning environment.

During her early school years, Megan’s passion led her to sing in chorus, play both the cello and clarinet, take part in the community drama club, Girl Scouts, and most important play with friends.

In high school, she became more active in the hearing loss community. She attended AG Bell’s LOFT (Leadership Opportunities For Teens) programs, dedicated to shaping and transforming the lives of deaf and hard of hearing teens by teaching them valuable skills in self-advocacy, self-confidence, leadership, and communication. She was active in her high school and played basketball, soccer and was on Color Guard. Additionally, she was in Key Club and joined the Media Club where her problem-solving skills were challenged, her self-advocacy skills grew and the dream to live in LA and produce films began.

She always had amazing boldness.

As I reflect back, I am in awe of the Swanson’s unwavering vision and commitment for Megan. She was able to learn to listen, talk and to achieve success beyond their wildest dreams. She was a strong-willed child, then a fearless young girl full of enthusiasm and vision. Today, she is walking into an amazing future.

If anything, Megan can teach us to live our passions. That alone can make you AMAZING!

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Lynn Wood
Rehabilitative Audiologist and Auditory Verbal TherapistAuditory Verbal Center of Wheaton
Meet Lynn A. Wood, M.A. CCC-A, LSLS Cert. AVT.
Lynn is a Rehabilitative Audiologist with a private practice at the Auditory Verbal Center of Wheaton in Illinois. Auditory Verbal Therapy is the heart of her practice but she also specializes in post cochlear implant rehabilitation for teens and adults and therapy for individuals with auditory processing needs. Lynn began her LSL experience in college and then in 1994 was certified by Auditory Verbal International, Inc. in the inaugural group of AVTs.

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