Roselynn is FHSR’s amazing patient champion for our 2022 Annual Appeal!
Born with bilateral hearing loss, Roselynn has overcome many obstacles to become the fairytale princess loving talkative singing little girl we know today.
Identified with mild to moderate hearing loss, Roselynn was first fitted with hearing aids at Comer Children’s Hospital in 2018. Thanks in part to FHSR’s funding of the Comer’s loaner hearing aid bank, Roselynn was able to get loaner hearing aids right away instead of waiting for hers to arrive. This limited the time she went without hearing all the rich sounds of her world. With hearing aids in place, Roselynn and her family began her hearing and communication journey.
During a check-in conversation with their Early Intervention Speech Language Pathologist, Michelle Havlik, Roselynn’s parents found out about FHSR’s tuition-free music scholarship program. Roselynn’s dad, an avid music lover, was expressing his desire for Roselynn to play an instrument and sadness over something at the time he thought she would never be able to achieve due to her hearing loss. Presented with the opportunity, Roselynn’s dad jumped on enrolling her in the Music To My Ears (MTME) program to give the gift of music to her in a structured, meaningful way.
As one of the first deaf or hard of hearing children enrolled in FHSR’s Music To My Ears program, which provides tuition-free music enrichment classes for children from birth – four years old and instrument lessons from 4 to 16 years of age, Roselynn started taking music enrichment classes in 2019 at The Merit School of Music. Her teacher, Ms. Annaeka Johnson knew immediately how special Roselynn was, “Roselynn was always bright and cheerful in class.”
However, for the following 18 months throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Rebecca, Roselynn’s mom, was concerned about her daughter’s hearing loss. At two, Roselynn wasn’t making as much progress in her spoken language as they hoped and she was missing her speech milestones. With a new team in place following pandemic changes, they started testing again to determine the additional loss in Roselynn’s hearing. Getting a proper assessment of her hearing levels required a sedated Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test which showed Roselynn’s hearing loss had declined to a severe to profound level. She was now a candidate for cochlear implants. Rebecca was determined to get the implant surgery performed as quickly as possible to limit any more delays in Roselynn’s spoken development, and she was implanted early that October.
Rebecca shared, “While the surgery was scary – we were hopeful because we wanted Roselynn to have speech if she could – we wanted her to have the opportunity. She does know American Sign Language (ASL) and could communicate however we wanted her to have the chance for oral language. The music classes have played a large role in her language development, both expressive and receptive before implantation so we were optimistic music would continue to support Roselynn. We are so grateful for the music classes and this gift for our daughter.”
In the summer of 2021, when music classes came back in person, Ms. Annaeka described the changes in Roselynn like “night and day” for her participation in music class. According to her, “Post cochlear implant surgery, Roselynn was able to match the pitch of the attendance song just as, if not more so, successfully than the typical hearing children who focus more on saying the words. She was right on with her pitch placement and singing and we knew that the words would follow.”
Roselynn says she loves music classes, “My favorite part of singing is the attendance song and being able to sing ‘Here I Am “.
Roselynn’s growth in music classes has exploded in the past year. In addition to taking weekly tuition-free music classes, she is now benefiting from being a student at Child’s Voice Oral Deaf School where FHSR provides the MTME school-based music program. Taught through a deaf and hard of hearing music curriculum created by FHSR and Merit specifically for this demographic, the music classes dovetail nicely with the oral language pedagogy at the school.
Ms. Annaeka added that Roselynn’s singing was good when she had her hearing aids, however, it was post-implantation that she took off. “Roselynn began singing and jargoning a lot in class and that seems like an amazing positive turn in her hearing and language journey. Her speech and her singing have completely progressed along with her self-esteem and self-confidence. She is socializing with the typical hearing peers in class which is just incredible.”
Rebecca says she works to create a music-rich environment at home with the classic preschool songs and Roselynn sings all day long and wants to take piano lessons. FHSR will provide her these lessons through the MTME scholarship when she transitions out of the early childhood program, bringing full circle the dream Roselynn’s dad thought he would never see come true for his daughter.
Rebecca stated, “We were lucky to receive such great care from the start of our journey and now through our services at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital working with our Audiologist, Katie Farnsworth, FHSR Associate Member and an implant user herself, whose life journey and hearing story was inspirational for us.”
As Roselynn goes to make the transition into her elementary school choice next year, Rebecca will work with the Hart Family Cochlear Implant Education Coordinator at Lurie’s. Funded by FHSR. This unique position will help the Peary’s make the best school choice to support Roselynn on her education journey by training the school administrators and educators on how to work with a child who has cochlear implants.
The future looks bright for Roselynn! Be on the lookout for this future piano-playing cochlear implant-wearing dynamo blazing her trail and changing the world for the better – she will be the one with the fairytale princess stickers on her implants. i