Updated 04/03/2012 07:41 PM
NC organization that helps children with hearing loss wins prestigious award
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RALEIGH -- A North Carolina organization that helps families with children who are hard of hearing has received a very prestigious award. BEGINNINGS of North Carolina has been named the 2012 recipient of the Volta Award by the Alexander Graham Bell Association.
Neel Kamo loves playing the violin. At just 10 years old, his talents have made him stand out beyond the classroom. It's an accomplishment that comes after years of challenges. As an infant he was told he was hard of hearing.
“It does not stand in my way of being a great violin player,” added Neel.
Neel says learning to adapt to life with hearing implants was his biggest obstacle. His parents, unfamiliar with what hearing loss entails, knew communication would be difficult.
“We were automatically thinking sign language,” said Garima Kamo.
However, with the help of BEGINNINGS those concerns were met with clarity.
“We could see that living a typical life with spoken language was a real option for us,” added Garima.
“The most important thing is that human to human, parent to professional contact. That is what is unique about what we do. There's someone who comes to the home and spends as much time with parents as the parents need,” said Joni Alberg, Executive Director of BEGINNINGS.
With new born screening for hearing loss, doctors can make a diagnosis within days after a baby is born.
“It can happen as young as nine days. Hearing aids can be put on a 9-day-old baby,” added Alberg.
It's early intervention paired with emotional and education support for families that leads some kids to a traditional classroom setting.
“He mainstreamed and now he goes to a public school. These are the actual goals of early intervention,” said Ramnik Kamo.
As for those kids facing similar challenges, Neel encourages them to stay optimistic.
“It's been fine. Just keep pushing. You'll come out on top,” Neel said.
BEGINNINGS For Parents of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing provides free help to families across the state. They've helped more than 5,000 families since 1987.