of the month
By Rich Petersen
Dana Michelle Sambón Barajas
This adorable 4-year-old is Dana Michelle Sambón Barajas. At approximately one year of age, Michelle’s family noted that she could not hear. A pediatrician in Guadalajara said this might have been due to a very high fever she had months before, and he referred the family to a hearing specialist who found the child to be completely deaf.
This doctor had colleagues at an institute in the city for blind and deaf children and recommended that Michelle be enrolled there. Prior to this and because of her young age, Michelle started with weekly therapy sessions to get her to form words and pick up some sounds. But after six months and very little progress, Michelle was started at the Institute in order to learn to lip read.
The other reason for attending was the school’s program to help children be eligible for a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf. The implant is surgically placed under the skin behind the ear and consists of both external and internal components to transmit processed sound signals to the cochlea and directly to the brain through a person’s auditory nerve system.
Michelle’s implant was done on September 12, 2010. Since she had never before heard sound, there are progressive stages she must go through so as not to over-stimulate her. You can imagine the effect of a total barrage of sound to someone who has been deaf all her life. Thus, the sound level of her implant is being increased gradually, every two weeks a little more sound is being transmitted.
At first the sound was frightening but she is getting used to her new world. Her family has been going to special classes to learn how to help her adjust to hearing. They work with her at home after school, now with certain toy musical instruments and other toys that make sounds. She is beginning to turn her head in response to sounds, and reacts to certain sounds on the television.
Niños Incapacitados has paid for several hearing tests prior to the surgery, and we continue to help with the cost of transportation to and from the Institute in Guadalajara. Her uncle, Diego, and her grandfather, Rafael, have taken on the task of driving Michelle into school and back five days a week--no easy task. Bus transport would be too time-consuming and uncomfortable for such a little girl. Her mother and stepfather both work and therefore the grandparents and uncle have stepped up to the plate to help.
Michelle, her uncle and grandparents attended our last monthly meeting and while Michelle could not yet say anything (perhaps too shy when looking at a roomful of older gringos), her grandfather and uncle were quick to say how much they appreciate the help from Niños Incapacitados. Grandfather Rafael even wrote a thank-you letter to the group. This is a wonderful example of an entire family working together.
To meet other of “our” children and to learn more about what Niños Incapacitados does, please join us the second Thursday of each month for our members’ meeting. 10:00 a.m. at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. A special and continued THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to our “Sustaining Niños” pledge program that allows us to continue helping sick children here at Lakeside.