Alexis Cruz’s journey is a one of resilience. Despite the silence he experienced at a young age due to hearing loss, Alexis emerged not only as the valedictorian of Wonderful College Prep Academy, but is now beginning his freshman year at Princeton University. His story echoes through the halls of the House Children’s Hearing Center, where our journey with Alexis began.
The House Children’s Hearing Center, a division of our Foundation, provides hearing assessments, treatments, education, and support services for pediatric patients from birth to age 21. We recommend and dispense an array of state-of-the-art hearing technology, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone conduction devices, and other assistive listening technology. It is the cochlear implant that transformed Alexis’ story.
His parents first noticed a potential issue when Alexis was in preschool, prompting a hearing test that confirmed the need for intervention. While many hearing specialists advocate for implantation before age 3 to optimize language development, Alexis received his cochlear implant at 6.
Rey Alcisto, AuD, Alexis’ audiologist and Clinical Director of the House Children’s Hearing Center, notes “Our goal is to identify hearing loss shortly after birth. The earlier the hearing loss is identified, the sooner the family can choose the most appropriate communication mode for them. The sooner, the better, so the child doesn’t have months or even years of ‘catching up’ to the language level of their peers.”
Alexis acknowledges the initial struggles he faced after receiving his first implant, revealing, “At first, I couldn’t understand anything. It took almost two years for me to recognize the sound that was coming in.” Undeterred by the late start, Alexis diligently practiced distinguishing sounds and worked tirelessly to understand and navigate his new auditory world.
In addition to conquering the challenges posed by the timing of Alexis’ cochlear implants, the Cruz family faced many obstacles, from navigating language barriers to commuting two-and-a-half-hours to continue receiving care at our hearing center. Through it all, Alexis’s parents prioritized his education and equipped him with the resources needed to thrive.