I am Ritu Nakra, a proud mother of Ananya Nakra. My daughter, being our first child, brought along a lot of happiness and excitement for the family. Little did we know that it is going to be a dark tunnel in front of us. At the age of 18 months, she was diagnosed with sensorineural profound hearing loss of both the ears. This was the beginning of a challenging journey for the habilitation of Ananya.
Helping Ananya Be At Par With Her Other Peers
My only aim in life was to bring my daughter at par with her normal hearing peers. I wished if I could develop a spoken language like any other child of her age. I travelled everywhere in the world to educate myself and implement the strategies learnt from these institutions with her. And as they say, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The entire family came together and after three years of hardships, Ananya was sailing on the smooth track of development.
When My Daughter’s Challenges Inspired Me To Do Better
Once she achieved her age appropriate speech and language levels, I was driven by this cause. If I could help my daughter, why not help other parents dealing with similar struggles. I decided to dedicate my life for this noble cause.
I took formal education in this field and started digging deeper in the subject. In 2007, I completed my B.Ed specializing in education for hearing impaired children. I got a registered license from Rehabilitation Council Of India as a special educator.
My Journey From A Desperate Mother To A Professional Therapist
Since then it has been a long journey. I started working with families and took therapy sessions. Along with my practice I enrolled myself in certification programme from AG Bell U.S to become Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist. It took me five years and today I am the fourth person in India to get this certificate.
During my journey from a desperate mother to a Professional Therapist, I met many families who wanted to do so much for their children but couldn’t because of lack of knowledge and awareness. The zeal to build up a community, to spread knowledge and be a support to each other ignited the spark.
The Birth Of HearMeSpeak
With support from entrepreneur mother’s like Chetana Misra
(who has a son with Cochlear Implants), I was encouraged to start HearMeSpeak
, a support group for parents. With 170 families part of this group
, we helped each other various discussions on Facebook and Whatsapp. In these last six months
we have conducted five online podcast discussions where we connected parents with professionals
and discussed on various topics educating and empowering parents.
How can you help?
My only dream now, is to reach out to more parents with similar struggles. Especially in areas where there are less facilities in terms of speech and hearing clinics, therapists to help them in the journey ahead. I want to help parents to bring the hearing impaired children to mainstream schooling. Because of lack of proper resources and guidance, parents believe that the child can never be mainstreamed.
To achieve this, I plan to develop an audio visual films series to show
How parents have used these strategies in their home environment to develop and facilitate spoken language in their young listeners?
What kind of diagnostics are required to identify hearing loss?
What is the current technology available for these children and the protocol for each test?
To create a video manual and to support parents in other towns and cities, we would need at least 4 lakhs. If you are a parent who has been there, I request you to come forward to support us in this cause. Because it is the most beautiful feeling to watch a child hear his first sound. With your support, we can bring music to many lives.