Alex and Jen Hrovat describe their son Landon as a happy-go-lucky boy who relishes attention, laughs when others laugh, and has a flirty side with the ladies. His hobbies include climbing the stairs to his bedroom, “reading” his favorite books (with help from his moms, of course), and pulling his dog Bauer’s tail. He is, in other words, a playful and curious 18-month-old.
Despite his young age, Landon has already passed a significant milestone on his hearing and speaking journey: he has transitioned from Ohio Valley Voices’ Parent-Infant Program into the Toddler Program. As the boy’s mothers can attest, though, his success was far from guaranteed.
“Before OVV, there were a lot of unknowns,” recount Alex and Jen, who live in Kenwood and both teach in special education. “We knew Landon had microtia during the pregnancy, but we were unsure of his ability to hear until his first hearing test in the NICU.”
Initially, Alex and Jen hoped Landon would have hearing in his right ear, but they quickly discovered that that was not the case. “Landon was about a week old when they identified that he has profound hearing loss in both ears. That means that without a device he is deaf,” they explain.
The news left the couple feeling shocked, saddened, and, worst of all, unprepared. Still, they pushed forward. At two months old, Landon was fitted with a bone conduction device that would give him access to sound. Yet the question of whether Landon would learn to speak remained unanswered.
Luckily, Jen’s mother lives near Ohio Valley Voices and recommended the organization. Jen set up a Zoom call, and as soon as the Hrovats established contact with OVV their fears began to dissipate.
“As educators, we felt an immediate connection with OVV’s staff,” Jen explains. “Everyone was very knowledgeable in their individualized area and extremely welcoming.” The Hrovats soon enrolled Landon in the Parent-Infant Program and began attending weekly sessions. Things clicked right away.
“Once Landon had his first Parent-Infant session, we knew OVV was the best place for him,” Jen says.
“So much love and care has been shown to Landon and our family,” she continues. “Not only with regard to speech therapy, but by answering our questions, calming our nerves, reassuring us about the future, and so much more that we didn’t know would go into one-hour parent-infant sessions.”
As a supplement to Landon’s weekly learning sessions, Jen and Alex also began attending OVV’s parent support group. They credit the group with providing a much-needed sense of camaraderie—an intangible albeit crucial resource for parents of children with hearing loss.
“It makes being the parent of a child with special needs feel less isolating,” Jen confides.
With the start of the 2021-2022 academic year, Landon transitioned into the Toddler Program, where he now spends five half-days per week learning and playing with his peers. For Jen and Alex, embarking on this next phase was a source of great pride but more than a little anxiety too. It was Landon’s first time being at the program unattended, and as every parent knows the prospect of handing over a child to teachers can be a scary and nerve-wracking one.
“We knew Landon was ready and were excited for him to be among peers, but we had mixed emotions,” they admit. “However, there is a sense of comfort when we drop our son off. Dropping Landon off is a new experience for us and when we say we find comfort in that because of OVV, that’s saying a lot! We couldn’t be happier with the ease of his transition and the joy he exudes when arriving at school.”
To Alex and Jen, this sense of comfort—the assurance that their son will not only receive a phenomenal education, but lots of love and care too—stems from OVV’s nurturing environment. They know that the entire OVV team is rallying to provide Landon with the emotional support he needs to flourish.
“OVV is more than a community to us. We feel part of a wonderful family,” Alex and Jen say.
“The OVV community has been such an amazing addition to our lives,” they elaborate. “We truly feel like they are another little family we have become a part of. We trust in their abilities to teach Landon, to help him grow, to love him.” As a result of this love, Landon’s future is bright, his potential boundless.
In the short term, Alex and Jen hope Landon will continue to develop his communication skills and form meaningful friendships. In the long term, they want to see him grow up to be proud of who he is, find success in whatever he chooses to do, inspire others by showing that he’s capable of anything, and “have whatever kind of family he wants to have who are the loves of his life, like he is ours.”
A year into Landon’s speaking journey, the Hrovats say they have been immeasurably changed by OVV and anticipate wonderful things ahead.
“Our family’s life is different because of OVV,” Alex and Jen say. “Landon’s life will continue to change for the better because of what this school brings to children who have hearing loss. Based on what we’ve already seen and how we already feel, we cannot imagine how thrilled and grateful we will be once Landon graduates.”
This piece was originally featured in our October Newsletter. You can read the entire newsletter and become a subscriber by clicking here.