When Birch was diagnosed with unilateral microtia/atresia (a malformed outer ear and closed ear canal, resulting in a severe conductive hearing loss) at birth, his parents joined a group made up of families with children who had a similar diagnosis. During the first picnic hosted by the group, one of the mothers told them about Clarke New York and the difference its Early Intervention Program was already making in their infant son’s life. Birch’s parents spoke to Meredith Berger, the director of Clarke New York, and felt welcomed into the Clarke family right away. From that very first phone call, they knew that Clarke was the right choice for Birch.
Now two-years-old, Birch is thriving. The once-shy infant now runs into his group and one-on-one sessions without looking back. He looks forward to his time with Sara, his speech language pathologist at Clarke New York, and greets her with a big smile and a huge hug. He also participates in two group sessions per week where he loves the hands-on activities like painting. Like most two year olds, he does a lot of observing, as he’s very interested in the other toddlers. He loves to play and isn’t afraid to speak up when he needs to be heard. Once he’s back at home, he can’t stop talking about all his friends at Clarke. When he begins Clarke’s preschool, Birch’s mom is looking forward to the support and specialized teaching he’ll receive. She knows that the staff will help build the extra confidence and skills he’ll need to succeed once he’s ready for mainstream schools.
It’s obvious that Birch is a special little boy who has benefitted, not only from the teachers’ caring interactions and expertise, but also from his parents’ hard work and dedication. He is making huge strides, and his mom is quite sure that, “without Sara and Clarke, Birch would not be where he is today.” On the days when they visit Clarke, it’s unclear who is more excited to see whom: Sara hearing Birch running down the hall calling out, “Where’s Sara? Where’s Sara?” or Birch, who has been talking about Sara the entire morning.