Daxx Delucchi acts like your typical five-year-old boy. He plays soccer, goes to kindergarten, reads and writes and plays with his two-year-old sister Hadley. Daxx started out his life on February 5, 2006, passing all of his screening tests before he left the hospital, including the hearing test given to newborns.
The first two years of his life were typical for any infant but soon Daxx’s family realized that something was wrong with his speech and hearing.
“He was two years old exactly when we realized Daxx was going deaf,” his mom Natalie Delucchi said. “He was our first kid and with your first kid you don’t know what to expect.”
Natalie and her husband Dustin had just moved their little family to Granite Falls, a blessing they didn’t realize until Daxx got a little older and started kindergarten.
Lucky for the Delucchis they had a plethora of teachers in their family who picked up on Daxx’s hearing loss early.
“I come from of a family of educators,” Natalie said. “My grandma thought that maybe he couldn’t hear and asked us to consider getting him tested. He progressively lost sound but still had a form of language.”
Daxx was soon diagnosed with a rare form of hearing loss. Natalie compares it to a piano. He can hear the low tones on a piano but not the high frequency sounds. Most people speak in high frequency, which made it difficult for Daxx to hear what people were saying.
At two years and one month old Daxx received hearing aids. These helped him hear but after less than two years he was having difficulty hearing once again.
“The hospital tells you ‘these are your options’ and because he already had some language his options were either cochlear or sign language. Daxx got cochlear implants when he was almost four. He only had a vocabulary of 20 words at four years of age. His listening age was seven months. Now he’s testing out at two years above grade level.
He’s like a rock star,” Natalie said.
The Delucchis have worked hard to ensure that their son has every opportunity to have the same life he would have had without hearing loss. Part of that process was to get him into the Listen and Talk school located in Seattle. Listen and Talk not only helped them fight to get the implants for Daxx but have been with them every step of the way.
“I drove over 100 miles a day for almost three years,” Natalie explained. But it is was well worth it. “Once he got the implant it was incredible. That school is like our family forever, having that support and that program is truly incredible.”
Listen and Talk provides early intervention for kids with hearing loss. Their goal is to ensure that kids and their families have all the tools they need to be successful. They want to help kids have successful learning careers in a normal school setting.
“We have children with all degrees of hearing loss. They key is fitting them with the right device so they have access to the sound. Our specialists can help the child,” Listen and Talk’s Executive Director, Suzanne Quigley explained. “A lot of the school systems will contract with us to provide that expertise knowing that they will then be in better shape to support that child. That’s our goal, to front load the amount of intervention while the child’s brain is in a more developmental state.”
Listen and Talk has been true to their word. They have built a relationship with the Granite Falls School District which has made Daxx’s transition into Mountain Way Elementary School as seamless as possible.
“Granite Falls School District has been really wonderful and supportive of this family’s commitment to help this child.,” Quigley said. “We can go in and help staff set up the classroom, etc. Our work is to help those kids and their families so they can learn.”
The Delucchis agree wholeheartedly and have seen nothing but love and support since Daxx transitioned to Mountain Way.
“Granite Falls School District has been so awesome. Granite Falls contracted with them (Listen and Talk) and a lot of districts won’t,” Natalie said. “They have been a huge part of the process since we put him in Listen and Talk. A lot of people have nightmare experiences.”
The Delucchis have just found out that their two-year-old daughter Hadley has the same condition as Daxx. She is getting ready to start Listen and Talk but the way has already been paved and the Delucchis know that soon both of their children will have everything they will need to be successful in life.
“She (Hadley) is getting ready to do the cochlear she will get it a whole year and half before he did. She will go to Listen and Talk – it is the best program,” Natalie said.
Only one in 40,000 kids get this type of hearing loss and the Delucchis were told that it is probably a mutated gene but their outlook is nothing but positive for both of their kids.
“I would say it is almost a blessing, it is such a big part of who they are. I wish someone would have told me there would come a time when you don’t even think about it anymore,” Natalie said of Daxx’s hearing loss. “He is and amazing kid who is smart and very self confident.”
If you would like to view a video of Daxx’s amazing story go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRqzQLrC-yk&feature=youtube_gdata_player. You can find out more about Listen and Talk by ivisitng www.ListenTalk.org.