When he started to hear, it was celebration after celebration.
Five-year-old Fletcher and his dad, Colin, are best friends. They love swimming in the pool, shooting hoops together, and hanging out in the garage playing one of the dozens of guitars that Colin collects. Before Fletcher was born, Colin couldn’t wait to share his favorite music with him. He spent hours making playlists and practicing songs to play for him on the guitar. But soon after birth, Fletcher was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss. Colin thought his dream of sharing music with his son couldn’t come true.
"WE WANTED HIM TO BE A PART OF IT ALL." —Alex, Fletcher’s mom
Fletcher’s parents, Colin and Alex, brought him home from the hospital and into the arms of a big, boisterous extended family. No one in their family has hearing loss. Alex worried that her son would miss out on the weekly Sunday dinners where aunts, uncles, and eight cousins catch up on news from the week and support one another through the ups and downs of life. “When we found out Fletcher had hearing loss and it was severe to profound, we assumed he’d have to learn ASL,” said Alex. “We don’t have any family or friends that do sign language and we really didn’t want to cut him off from all of our relationships. We wanted him to be part of it all.”
"THERE ARE NO SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS FOR WHAT HE DOES." —Colin, Fletcher’s dad
As they began doing research on Fletcher’s communication options, Colin and Alex were excited to learn about the opportunities of Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) and hearing technology. “We met other families whose children have cochlear implants and saw the success that they had and how they were going to a regular school,” said Alex. “It was a pretty easy choice for us once we realized that he could really be a part of the world that we are in.” At six weeks old, Fletcher received his first hearing aids and his world got bigger and louder.
The road to getting Fletcher’s cochlear implants, however, wasn’t easy. Initially, the insurance company denied them. “It was devastating,” said Alex. “We went from being excited to set the surgery date to getting a letter stating that it wouldn’t be covered.” After watching how happy Fletcher was responding to the sounds around him with his hearing aids, Colin and Alex became determined to get their son cochlear implants as soon as possible.
They asked Fletcher’s doctors as well as a non-profit organization to call and write letters to the insurance company on their behalf. Knowing that early intervention is crucial for children with hearing loss, they fought hard for their choice of LSL. The insurance company ended up covering both of his implants, which Fletcher received at nine months old.
"KEEP FIGHTING FOR YOUR CHILD." —Alex, Fletcher’s mom
Fletcher loves his special ears. As soon as his eyes are open each morning, his ears are on. They let him participate fully in the world around him. From taking golf lessons with his cousins to roughhousing with his little brother, Sam, nothing stops him from being an active part of the family life that means so much to his parents.
“It’s been remarkable and even better than we possibly expected,” said Alex. “Fletcher is able to communicate with us and have relationships that we didn’t expect him to have. He’s able to go to school with all his hearing friends and play on sports teams and have all the hobbies we didn’t expect him to have.”
Most important for Colin, Fletcher will learn how to play guitar. His dreams of sharing music with his son have come true.