Hearing-impaired kids graduate from program

EARLY INTERVENTION: Wu Hui-jung used to brandish a large stick to encourage her son to do his schoolwork. Now the child is set to enter a program for gifted kids

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Aug 05, 2004 - Page 4

With pride obvious in their faces, parents clapped loudly yesterday as their children performed skits at a Taipei graduation ceremony from an early-intervention program run by the National Women's League Foundation for the Hearing Impaired.

The ceremony was held to celebrate the graduation of 32 five- or six-year-olds from the foundation's Taichung and Taipei centers.

"I first found out that my daughter was hearing-impaired when she was one and a half years old. When I found out, of course I was very sad, but I encouraged myself to find resources, a way to help her," said Hsieh Li-fang (謝莉芳), as she watched her daughter Liang Chia-hsuan (梁家瑄) give a speech onstage.

When Hsieh and her husband realized that their daughter was severely hearing-impaired, they arranged for her to receive a cochlear implant and sent her to the foundation for early-intervention classes.

Thanks to the program and the implant, the 5-year old now speaks normally except for a slight lisp and will be entering kindergarten with hearing children next year.

Liao Hsin-ping (廖信評), another success story, served as emcee yesterday.

"I will be entering the gifted students' class at Taipei County's Pu-chien Elementary School this September," Liao crowed to the other graduates.

Liao, who graduated from the program last year, has a head for numbers and has several math awards under his belt. Success hasn't been easy, though, according to his mother, Wu Hui-jung (吳繪蓉).

"Hsin-ping used to ask us all the time why he was born hearing-impaired. We always told him, it doesn't matter. God gave you a better brain to make up for it," Wu said.

Wu recalled struggling with Liao to get him to complete the program's classwork, often standing guard with a big stick next to her son's desk after school.

"It's really important for the kids to do all of the coursework and try to work at it. But can you imagine how difficult it is for a three-year-old or a five-year-old to spend two hours a day outside of class at a desk studying something?" Wu said.

Looking at Liao, though, the struggle was clearly worth it.

The foundation's early intervention program focuses on children under seven who have at least some hearing ability with the help of hearing aids or cochlear implants.

To find out more about the foundation, visit its Web site at www.nwlhif.org.tw.