By Jennifer Gallus
Hearing aids have never looked so cool or had such a positive impact on young people who are hard-of-hearing like 4-year-old Noah Pederson of Howard Lake.
Noah is the son of Mark and Denise Pederson and is a brother to Kayla, Ashley, and Emily.
At the age of nine months, Noah’s doctors confirmed that he was hard of hearing. Noah’s family wasn’t surprised because both his dad and grandfather were hard-of-hearing from a young age, according to Noah’s mom Denise.
Noah was six weeks premature and had a lot of fluid in his ears during his first months of life. Additionally, testing devices were too large for Noah’s premature ears, which also delayed his diagnosis.
“All hospitals in Minnesota now do a newborn hearing screening. Because the equipment was too big for his little ears we followed up every month until his diagnosis was confirmed,” Denise said.
Noah calls his hearing aid the “Wiggle” hearing aid, because it’s the colors of the popular kid’s show “The Wiggles.”
However, the hearing aid alone is not the only reason why Noah is now hearing and talking like any other 4-year-old. The school he attends can take a lot of credit.
Noah attends Northern Voices, an oral school for the deaf in Roseville three days per week. The Pedersons ride share to the school with a family from Litchfield.
Noah’s days at school consist of switching back and forth between a regular preschool class and half-hour sessions of speech. Field trips are also a part of this special preschool class.
Teachers do not use sign language or cues in their teaching methods, according to Denise.
Children as young as two weeks old attend the school. Therapy at such a young age may consist of shaking a rattle to determine if the infant’s hearing aid setting is correct, according to Denise.
An additional device Noah likes to use is called an FM System. Basically, the system consists of an FM frequency microphone that can either plug into things like the sound system at church or can operate at a higher frequency to pick up the voice of a person wearing his microphone.
The microphone is tuned into Noah’s hearing aid and amplifies sound, according to Denise.
“This is particularly helpful when the teacher wears the microphone around her neck and tries to get Noah’s attention while he is playing with friends because her voice will come across louder,” Denise said.
Before Noah attended Northern Voices, he tested about nine months behind where he should have been.
“Noah tested out above his age level this time. He’s caught up and gained,” Denise said.
Students usually attend Northern Voices until kindergarten. By then, they’re usually ready for regular schools.
Noah also attends a preschool class in Cokato so he can get to know his peers in the area.
Favorite activities for Noah include T-ball, puzzles, classical music, singing, and playing the guitar.
When asked what his favorite food is, Noah said, “Pizza and chocolate milk.”