Theo is a pint-sized Renaissance man with a flair for watercolor painting, music, literature, and science.
With his radiant red hair and brilliant smile, the friendly 24-month-old is a natural to visit local schools as the Poster Boy for the 2018-2019 Kids for Kids Penny Drive!
Theo was born with profound hearing loss. It was difficult news to receive, his father, Barry, recalls.
“When Theo was first diagnosed, I felt completely lost and didn’t know what to do. It was amazing how the Guilds’ School reached out and gave us information about resources right after his diagnosis,” Barry says.
Theo starting receiving a comprehensive program of physical and speech therapy from the Guilds’ School at two months of age. That therapy, delivered by a caring and knowledgeable staff, made a tremendous difference for Theo and his family.
“The Guilds’ School staff is invested in his development,” says Melissa, Theo’s mom. She appreciates the overall support that parents receive while going through the toughest moments of their lives.
Although Theo received pediatric hearing aids at two months of age, he remained unable to hear the sounds and intonations of verbal speech. Melissa researched cochlear implants. When their health insurer wanted to pay for one implant surgery at a time, she poured through records detailing policy coverage and pushed for a single surgery.
It was too much to think of Theo having to endure two separate surgeries, the couple recall.
“It would have doubled his recovery time and stunted his language development,” Melissa explains. She pled their case and the insurer covered both implants in a single surgery.
Theo has had his cochlear implants (or robot ears as his mom calls them) for about a year. The implants help him process sounds. Theo, who now says 20 words in sign language and can say13 words verbally, is well on the way to realizing his potential!
Melissa and Barry are incredible teachers and advocates for their son. They also have amazing parents of their own who play a huge role in Theo’s world.
The couple learned baby sign language (modified American Sign Language) and started signing with Theo when he was just a month old. At six months, Theo surprised them when he signed the word “milk” as a request.
“We were over the moon,” Melissa recalls.
Today, Theo is ready to explore the world, try new activities and meet people of all ages. At home, he tinkers on a grand piano, experimenting with different rhythms and sounds. Painting is a favorite pastime and his works decorate the family home. Theo’s favorite book, “A is for Atom,” is an introduction to science.
The “fiery redhead” – as his mom calls him – is always looking for a new adventure.
Theo’s teacher and therapists at the Guilds’ School collaborate with his teacher of the deaf at the HOPE School, which specializes in early services for children with hearing impairments, to maximize Theo’s development.
Barry now believes the sky is the limit for Theo. “I really don’t have too many worries about his abilities. I know he is going to be successful in life.”