Being a single parent is never easy. Being the single parent of child who is deaf or hearing impaired is downright overwhelming, requiring superhuman resolve and an abundance of love.
Those are the defining qualities of Lindsay Herrmann, whose son Henry was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss three weeks after he was born. But thanks to Ohio Valley Voices and its staff and parents, Lindsay and Henry have found the support structure they need.
“OVV has been a godsend,” Lindsay attests. “They have made this very overwhelming experience much easier for me to understand and have given me confidence in what I am doing.”
Henry was born on October 1, 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lindsay, who is a Cincinnati native, describes her shock upon receiving the news of Henry’s diagnosis:
“Henry failed his two hearing tests when he was born. We had a follow up at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital three weeks later, and he was diagnosed then. I was honestly devastated. My late husband and I had no clue anything was wrong and have no history of any hearing loss in our families. But we both immediately said, ‘What can we do for him?’ And that’s been the attitude since.”
Despite their fears, the Herrmann’s quickly found reassurance when the specialists at Cincinnati Children’s recommended OVV. From the beginning, they knew it was where they wanted to send Henry.
“I knew it was the right fit because their goals for kids are the exact same goal we had for Henry,” Lindsay observes. When Lindsay’s husband unexpectedly passed away three and half months after Henry was born, Lindsay continued advocating for Henry with the help of her parents and doctors.
In November 2020, within weeks of his diagnosis, Henry entered Ohio Valley Voices’ Parent-Infant Program. There, under the caring expertise of OVV’s Family Center Coordinator Leslie Raulie, he began early intervention therapy focused on hearing, understanding Ling sounds, and recognizing where sounds come from.
On June 1, 2021, exactly eight months after his birth, Henry underwent cochlear implant surgery. “It was very stressful to hand my baby over, but I was so excited that he was getting the surgery,” Lindsay says. “I knew it was a big, positive step.”
According to Lindsay, Henry’s experience at Ohio Valley Voices has been phenomenal so far. She is especially touched by the enthusiasm and personalized attention he receives from OVV’s teachers and staff. “I love watching everyone be so excited for Henry!” she says. “Everyone is excited to see him when we walk in the door and they’re excited for his progress.”
Above all, Lindsay cherishes the emotional support she receives in Ohio Valley Voices’ Parent Support Group, which she attends every month. “I love our parent support group,” she says. “I have made real friends who are ahead of me in their journey and some that are exactly where I am at.” For Lindsay, this feeling of camaraderie—of finding peers who share and understand what she’s going through—has made all the difference in the world.
At home, Henry is a happy, easy-going baby who enjoys eating, being in his walker, and spending time with his grandparents and older sister Lyla, who is four. Although he has vestibular impairment and has not yet learned how to sit up on his own, this added challenge never seems to dampen Henry’s spirits. “Henry smiles as soon as he gets his ‘ears’ on and laughs at his sister a lot,” Lindsay says. “He is just a go-with-the-flow kind of baby, which is good because he has a wild big sister!”
As Henry’s first birthday approaches, so does the one-year anniversary of his enrollment at OVV. Reflecting on her Ohio Valley Voices experience so far, Lindsay says the program has already had an enormous impact on her family, providing them with a sense of community and endless possibility. “Ohio Valley Voices has allowed me and Henry to know people in our position,” she shares. “If it wasn’t for OVV, I wouldn’t have people to relate to. It will allow Henry to live his life to the absolute fullest.”
In February, Henry will enter the toddler program, where he will work on auditory training and speech development alongside a handful of other bright, happy youngsters like himself. “We are so excited,” Lindsay says with pride and hope.
This piece was originally featured in our September Newsletter. You can read the entire newsletter and become a subscriber by clicking here.