Founder Jenny McCall tells her story
Like all parents, when my first child was born I wanted her to have the happiest life possible. I was devastated when she couldn't learn to talk. Once I accepted the fact that Caroline couldn't learn to talk without medical help, it still took me almost 12 months to obtain a correct diagnosis and to get her the help she needed.
By this time, Caroline was already two and a half years old.
In search of a diagnosis (this was 1991) we saw psychologists, neurologists, cardiologists and oncologists. As it turned out, we found the help we needed from an otologist, an audiologist and a speech pathologist, as well as through group and individual speech therapy sessions.
During the critical formative years of her childhood, Caroline could not hear or learn to talk because she did not yet have hearing aids or a cochlear implant. This put her behind her chronological peers. Not just in terms of speech and language acquisition, but also in terms of her substantive learning, which is dependent on acquisition of language.
While Caroline eventually made substantial strides in closing the learning gap between her and her age group and while she went on to earn a university degree her struggle to perfect her language skills will always be a challenge.
Once I had finally obtained a diagnosis of her hearing loss, I wanted Caroline to learn to talk so she could attend a "mainstream" school and be able to attain a job of her choosing, with fewer challenges when communicating with the hearing population. This, too, is what we want for the children helped by the Baker Institute.
The Baker Institute aims to help families get the information they need without the undue delay which my family endured; and we want to ensure to the extent possible with our resources that the ability to pay for such services is not a barrier to any child being able to join his or her peers in our hearing and speaking world.
Jennifer Jordan McCall
Read more about Jenny
Read an article featuring Jenny on page 6 in the Stanford Benefactor from Spring 2010.