Maine's Oral Deaf Learning Center
Pamela Dawson, M.Ed. x 205
hear ME now!
Suite 201 Yarmouth Hall
19 Yarmouth Drive
New Gloucester, ME 04260-5106
hear ME now! helps deaf and hard-of-hearing children optimize their listening, speech, language and academic skills and their self-confidence so that they can succeed in mainstream educational settings and society.
hear ME now! was started by a group of people who know exactly how overwhelming it is to be told your child is deaf. That's why they've worked so hard to ensure that other parents have something that they didn't: options. The idea for Advocates for Deaf Oral Programs, the group's original name, began with Laurie Piasio of Scarborough, whose daughter Sarah was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when she was 16 months old.
Piasio and her husband, Gregg, decided their daughter's best option was a cochlear implant, an electronic device that stimulates nerves in the inner ear, allowing a person to hear sounds. But to understand what those sounds meant, Sarah needed intensive therapy - therapy that Piasio and her husband had to arrange on their own.
Until hear ME now! opened in January, 2003, most Maine children with cochlear implants had to drive to Massachusetts for the help they needed. In 1997, Laurie Piasio and Dorothy Eisenhaure, Sarah's speech-language pathologist, gathered together other concerned Maine parents and professionals. They began a campaign to promote literacy and language development for deaf and hard-of hearing children through early intervention and oral education.
Now, thanks to years of hope and hard work, Maine has the infant/toddler program and pre-school it needs for deaf and hard-of-hearing children. And even though their own child is too old to attend - Sarah Piasio is now 10 and attends public school in Falmouth - the founding members are happy just knowing that other children will have the opportunity to learn to speak and listen at an auditory oral school here in Maine.
"We are making a real difference in the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing children in Maine who are choosing to take advantage of the incredible technology available today," said Laurie Piasio, past president of the hear ME now! Board. "These children will learn to listen and speak with the help of specialized teachers and other professionals who are dedicated to oral education for deaf children.”
hear ME now! offers a parent/infant program to assist with the education of infants who are deaf or hearing impaired. The main goal of the program is to enable parents and caregivers to use language within their daily routine. The program consists of two contacts a week, each an hour long. One contact is a home visit, where a teacher of the deaf comes to the home and works as a language coach for both the caregiver and the child. The teacher helps the parent develop sound and language routines that the caregiver can use to enrich the child’s everyday environment. The other weekly contact is a speech/language therapy session in a home-like environment, where the family comes into the school to work with a speech/language therapist on developmental language and communication goals.
The other major component of the parent/infant program is parent education and support. Monthly meetings are held to present crucial information to the parent or caregiver. Topics such as skill development, physical development, educational procedures and parental rights are offered to inform the parent of various topics. There are also organized times for parents to offer support to one another and to share experiences that may help others. The road we travel is not always smooth, and having fellow travelers who are at different stages in the journey can give comfort, hope and encouragement.
Recognizing that parents and caregivers have the most impact on each child’s growth, hear ME now! comes alongside to offer information, strategies and support. Joining the team of caregivers, audiologists and other professionals, our goal is to ensure short term and long term success in the hearing world for each child with hearing loss.
Toddler and Preschool Class
Building on the experience of the Parent/Infant program, the toddler program is designed to serve as a bridge between home and preschool. The environment is warm and nurturing and as children develop, school materials and activities are introduced.
The preschool class is designed for children 4-5 years old. Our preschool program is set up as a typical preschool classroom which includes centers for art, pre-literacy, dramatic play, blocks and cognitive/sensory development. The schedule is designed to address individualized objectives throughout the day. We provide ample opportunities for guided play and structured but fun hands-on activities.
Snack, recess and lunch also serve as opportunities for skill development. Beginning and ending circle times focus on calendar skills, the identification of weather and seasons, review of a chart story, recalling information and sequencing details from a book and singing songs. In addition, children typically work with a speech-language pathologist for thirty minutes in individual sessions. The staff uses a team approach to foster the development of skills in all domains. Communication with parents is a critical part of the program.
Hearing Aid Loan Program
The cornerstone of the program is the belief that families need time to understand what they are going through before being committed to a particular hearing aid. With 95% of children born with hearing loss born to parents WITHOUT hearing loss, they probably have a lot to learn. The loaner program allows families the opportunity for monthly meetings with an audiologist or other member of the hear ME now! team (Auditory Verbal Therapist, Speech Language Pathologist, Teacher of the Deaf) to learn about hearing aids, ask questions, get comfortable with the device so they can take on the responsibility of an expensive, small electronic device.
By gaining the confidence to manipulate, care for, and judge the device, they are in turn giving their child the ability to succeed as an auditory learner. This educational process returns some control to the families so when they return to their dispensing audiologist, they are comfortable and confident in the decision making process and know how to be reliable observers and reporters during the trial period and beyond.
The Maine Department of Education contracts with hear ME now! To provide services, so there are no charge for any services. Family service coordinators assist families in identifying funding for needed technology. The technology should be listed on the individual family services plan (IFSP). Follow-up and training on use of the devices should be included too.
Any parents of children with hearing loss or other disability.
To access services
Upon diagnosis, contact the Service Coordination System. Once an Individual Family Service Plan has been decided upon, you can receive services.