Meet Jerlene and Ma'Kya
Ma’Kya, 18 months old, was unilaterally implanted at 8 months. Her mom, Jerlene, 19, is a recent Project ASPIRE graduate and speaks of her experience with the program and of life as a mother of a child with hearing loss.
ASPIRE: How did Project ASPIRE help you?
Jerlene: [There was] so much stuff that I did not know coming into Project ASPIRE. I thought that with a cochlear implant, children just listen and then they just know. After leaving here I know that you can’t just put [the implant] on and they start talking. It doesn’t happen like that; it’s a process. It happens over time.
ASPIRE: What parts of the ASPIRE curriculum was helpful to you?
Jerlene: The videos showed me that other parents feel the way that I felt and still feel and are still going through it. I liked the parent videos a lot. If somebody just says something like “this is how you do it” and never explains it or shows you, I don’t think I would have gotten it as much. So not only did you show me on the laptop with the other parents, but we did it here before we left, so I think that was really good.
ASPIRE: What do you do differently with Ma’Kya now that you’ve been through
Jerlene: Honestly, I really did not play with her as much before as I do now. I didn’t think it was so important that I play with her. She has cousins who can play with her but it is more important to play with her [myself] and give her language. When I play with her, I can give her a lot more language than what my niece can give her. I can describe probably everything that we’re doing, like, “we’re going to build the blocks, the red blocks, let’s build them.”
ASPIRE: How has ASPIRE helped Ma’Kya?
Jerlene: She’s doing way more. She’s talking a lot more, she uses a lot more words and she’s putting sentences together now….it’s helping her a lot.
ASPIRE: What was your biggest takeaway? What was the most useful piece of
information that you felt like you got from Project ASPIRE?
Jerlene: To talk more and to play with her and to interact with her more. Just because she’s a baby doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation with her. You have to talk to her more. And the TV! I did not know about the TV. Before I came here the TV was on so much that that’s all you would hear in the background if you were to call. But now I’ve minimized the TV…I don’t use it in the morning at all. That’s just me and her time.
ASPIRE: Is there anything you want to add for other parents to know?
Jerlene: It gets harder before it gets easier. It’s still hard. I still have moments where I cannot believe that I’m 19 with a child whose hearing is impaired. It’s still very, very, very hard… Don’t give up. Don’t stop. In the long run it’s going to help. It’s going to help your child a lot. I’m one lucky person to have Ma’Kya. She changed me a lot.