Stories: Newborn Charlie’s parents were at a loss upon learning he was deaf – your giving provides care and education that makes a difference

(Note: This story comes courtesy of Kathy Smith, development director of Memphis Oral School for the Deaf. Names and images are changed to protect privacy.)

Charlie’s parents were excited to bring him home from the hospital. He was a newborn and their first child. Coming home meant addressing some challenges they had not expected however – when Charlie was given a standard  newborn hearing screening, Charlie had not passed the test.

“We were perplexed, but we were excited we were taking our baby home,” his mother said. “We decided to have Charlie  re-tested a week later. After additional testing, it was clear to everyone that Charlie was deaf.”

Charlie’s mother was at a loss for how to handle the information. She had never known anyone who was deaf.

“Words cannot describe the utter shock and devastation that we felt,” she said. “I had so many unanswered questions… how would I communicate with my child? Would he ever have a normal life?”

Charlie’s parents wondered if he would be able to laugh and play with other children. They were worried that Charlie would never be able to hear his mother singing, or reading, or speaking the words “I love you.”

Your Support Impacts Lives“We were immediately referred to a United Way partner agency, the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf,” Charlie’s mother said. “Walking through the door of this school was one of the greatest blessings of our lives.”

Charlie was enrolled in classes at the school and the agency’s counselors brought the couple hope – something that had been in very short supply before Charlie was connected to the school.

“The staff was able to answer our questions and explain our options,” Kathy said. “We will forever be grateful for their help!”

Charlie now has a cochlear implant which improves his ability to process sounds. He attends classes at the school every weekday. With the implant and the training from professional agency staff, Charlie is surpassing his parent’s expectations – he is learning how to listen, and how to talk!

Your support of United Way of the Mid-South’s network of care is giving families like Charlie’s the opportunity to overcome challenges and have a stronger quality of life. Thank you for your gifts to United Way.

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