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Allison Soars in High School with Clarke’s Mainstream Services 

Allison was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at birth. Her parents learned about cochlear implants before her first birthday and Allison was fitted for hearing aids not long after to help her access sound. Early access to sound is crucial for students working to develop listening and spoken language skills. Allison’s hearing aids did not provide her with adequate access to sound, and after working closely with an audiologist, Allison was identified as a candidate for a unilateral cochlear implant. Allison received her first implant at 18 months, which was the first time Allison heard sounds. Allison later received her second implant at four years old and said her first word at five. Allison aged out of her Listening and Spoken Language program at the end of first grade. Her parents were told there were very few options available to meet their daughter’s advanced needs and the family was directed to Clarke.  

In 2012, Allison’s family moved from the Pacific Northwest to Western Massachusetts and enrolled in Clarke’s Mainstream Services—offering LSL expertise and itinerant teacher of the deaf services—to help children succeed alongside their peers with typical hearing in mainstream schools.  

“When Allison started at Clarke, we could write down every word she knew on a single sheet of paper,” shares Katie, Allison’s mom. “She was frustrated with her inability to communicate her feelings, as any intelligent person would be, and we were genuinely concerned for what the future might hold for her.” The family quickly observed how the Clarke team worked to make a deeper connection with Allison. The team’s awareness of Allison’s needs and creative efforts to meet them was evident every day.  

During her high school years, Allison dedicated her time to volunteering with fellow students who had special needs, serving as a mentor to them. Every week after school, Allison engaged in various activities such as arts and crafts, playing games and providing emotional support to her assigned buddy. 

From the countless memories made spending time with her buddy after school, Allison found her true passion. “My ultimate goal is to become a preschool teacher of the deaf. These volunteer opportunities allowed me to gain knowledge in supporting the needs of students with special needs while also learning the tools that would be helpful in my future career,” shares Allison. 

Allison will attend Westfield State University to pursue an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education. 

Allison’s mom notes, “Ten years later as we prepare for her high school graduation we still worry, but now it is about how to pay for her college whether she will be home sick or whether she will remember to call on the weekends. She has become every bit the intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic person we hoped she would be.”

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