Kari is a mentor for parents caring for a child with meningitis and/or profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss with bilateral cochlear implants. She also offers mentorship related to audiology, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy care services. She has experience with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Infant Toddler Program.
My daughter Hattie was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis at 18 months and spent a week at St. Lukes Children’s Hospital. She finished her antibiotic infusions through a pic line at home for another two weeks while she continued to recover. As a result of the meningitis, Hattie has profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Initially, Hattie was fitted with hearing aids, but we soon noticed that she was not responding to her name or loud noises. We eventually learned that she was completely deaf. Hattie received bilateral cochlear implants about five months after her illness and the implants were activated one month later. While Hattie's speech and language development has been slow to develop, she is now starting to catch up to her hearing peers and is thriving in mainstream school.
Hattie has two sisters. All three girls take dance classes and enjoy the outdoors. I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband, Kevin, works at Micron. After Hattie’s illness, I was very busy with both occupational and speech therapy visits along with visits from the Idaho Infant & Toddler program. We also attended a weekly toddler program at Idaho State University for children with hearing loss, which really helped us connect with other parents.
My husband and I agreed to proceed with cochlear implants for Hattie, but I know that isn’t always an easy decision for parents to make. There are a lot of decisions to weigh along the way, and when you are new to a diagnosis it can be hard to navigate your way through all of the information. I hope my experiences can help support families who may be faced with these challenges.
Hattie has taught me so much and she makes me a better mom. One thing I've learned is that children are resilient and stronger than we think they are! Hattie is learning to read, loves to dance, is super active and is making friends at school. She is really a typical child who happens to have cochlear implants.
Caring for a child with complex medical needs can be complicated and overwhelming. Support from someone navigating similar challenges can make all the difference.