Meet James Sr. and James Jr. Gustavson

James Sr. was not exactly surprised when his baby, James Jr., was recently diagnosed with mild, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. He has hearing loss himself. All his life, he has struggled to function in the hearing world and knew firsthand the challenges his own son may face. An audiologist provided information about enrolling his baby in a Birth-to-Three program, and HEAR Wisconsin was listed as one of the providers.  
 
James and his wife, Thea, chose HEAR Wisconsin. James said, “HEAR Wisconsin has been great. Not only did they enthusiastically engage with us regarding James and plans for his [Birth-to-Three] services, they took an interest in my hearing loss and helped me set up appointments to get the help I needed.”  
 
Looking back, James stated that he struggled through school and always needed the TV/radio much louder than what was comfortable for everyone else. He had learned to lip read to aid in understanding conversation. His hearing loss was never properly addressed until now when, for the first time in his life, he was fitted with hearing aids by HEAR Wisconsin’s audiologist, Dr. Brooke Lewandowski. Hearing the world around him with the hearing aids has been a profound experience, and, at times, overwhelming for him. He described it as, “acquiring a super power. I can hear people in the next room! I can hear people moving around upstairs! I can watch TV without closed captions!”
 
He explained the experience as, “the auditory equivalent of those videos where you see a colorblind person put on the special glasses and see in color. For the first time I felt like I was hearing in color.”
 
James does not want his son to have the same difficulties he had growing up, so he is appreciative that HEAR Wisconsin’s Early Intervention team, including their speech-language pathologist Laura Corcoran, is giving him and his wife the guidance and understanding of what milestones to expect in James Jr.’s language development, along with techniques to help engage him in progressing through these milestones. James said, “it allows us to have confidence in what we’re doing by tracking his progress… identifying and addressing any shortfalls before they become significant.”     
 
He finishes off by commenting that, “everyone with whom we’ve worked with at HEAR Wisconsin is warm, friendly, and enthusiastic. That can’t be emphasized enough.”