CHAPEL HILL -- May is Better Hearing Month, and right now a UNC Health Care program called CASTLE is making strides with kids who are deaf or diagnosed with hearing loss.
The specialized therapy is giving hope to parents who never thought their child would be able to talk.
It's family time at the Shoun household and Parker is able to hit the hoops just like other boys his age.
"I can finally listen to music. I can play my drums. I can actually hear stuff,” said Parker Shoun.
However it was a long journey for Parker. When his family discovered he was born with hearing loss, they feared he would never be able to speak or talk.
“I did not envision Parker going to college. I did not envision Parker having his own family,” said his mother, Holly Shoun.
He was two when he underwent surgery for his cochlear implant to help him hear. At the age of five he received his second implant. However, those vital years without hearing made for significant delays.
“We were low on hope. We didn't have a very bright forecast on his future,” added Holly Shoun.
Their hope was restored with the UNC CASTLE program. For more than 10 years they've been helping families with children who are deaf or have hearing loss.
“When children say their first words and you see the parents joy over what they've been working on,” said Hannah Eskridge, director of the UNC CASTLE Program.
From early detection at birth, therapists work with children and their families to develop their language and speech so they can integrate into the classroom.
“It changed my life. At first when I only knew five or six words. After my Mom found CASTLE I was up to 500 words,” added Parker Shoun.
It's the hope that the Shoun family needed.
“There's no way to measure the gift they gave us in terms of giving our family hope, confidence, and the ability to do anything he wants,” Holly Shoun said.
According to the CDC more than 12,000 babies are born with a hearing loss. Many are detected at birth through a statewide screening process.