A Tel Aviv center offers hope and care for children with hearing loss

Rona is an 11-year-old girl from central Israel who was diagnosed with severe hearing loss when she was just a few days old. She underwent a routine hearing test at the hospital and the results were devastating for her parents. They did not know how to cope with the news and what to do for their daughter.

Fortunately, they were referred to Beit Micha, a unique center that cares for hard-of-hearing kids in the heart of Tel Aviv. Beit Micha is a multidisciplinary center that meets the therapeutic and educational needs of children with hearing loss from birth to first grade. It offers a range of services, including audiology, speech therapy, social work, daycare, preschool, and support groups.

Rona started attending speech therapy sessions at Beit Micha when she was seven months old. She also joined the special daycare and preschool programs, where she received individualized attention and stimulation from the specialized staff. She learned to communicate with her peers and teachers, using hearing aids and lip reading. She also developed her self-confidence and social skills.

A Tel Aviv center offers hope and care for children with hearing loss
A Tel Aviv center offers hope and care for children with hearing loss

By the time she turned six, Rona was ready for a regular elementary school. She is a happy and charismatic child who can explain that “like children who do not see well need glasses, I don’t hear well and I need hearing aids.” She is one of the many success stories of Beit Micha, which has helped thousands of children with hearing loss integrate into society and achieve their full potential.

The mission and vision of Beit Micha

Beit Micha was founded in 1979 by a group of parents who wanted to provide their children with hearing loss with the best possible care and education. They named the center after Micha, a boy who was born deaf and died at the age of four from leukemia. His parents donated his organs to save other children’s lives.

Today, Beit Micha is the largest and most comprehensive center for children with hearing loss in Israel. It serves about 500 children and their families every year, covering 60% of Israel’s population. It operates in conjunction with the Health, Education and Labor and Social Affairs ministries, as well as other organizations and institutions.

The mission of Beit Micha is to enable children with hearing loss to develop their language, cognitive, emotional, and social abilities, and to prepare them for integration into regular education and society. The vision of Beit Micha is to create a society that respects diversity and inclusion, and that provides equal opportunities for all children.

The services and programs of Beit Micha

Beit Micha provides a variety of services and programs for children with hearing loss and their families. Some of them are:

  • Audiology clinic: A professional clinic that performs all the necessary tests on infants and children with hearing loss, such as newborn screening, auditory brainstem response (ABR), otoacoustic emissions (OAE), tympanometry, audiometry, and auditory processing disorder (APD). The clinic also provides consultation and guidance on the selection and fitting of hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA), or other assistive devices.
  • Speech therapy: A team of speech therapists who work with the children individually or in groups to improve their speech, language, listening, and communication skills. The therapists use various methods and techniques, such as auditory-verbal therapy (AVT), auditory-oral therapy (AOT), cued speech, sign language, or total communication.
  • Social work: A team of social workers who offer emotional support and counseling to the parents and families of the children with hearing loss. They also help them navigate the bureaucracy and access the rights and benefits they are entitled to from public institutions.
  • Daycare: A full-time daycare program for children aged six months to three years. The program is designed to provide a stimulating environment for the children’s development, as well as speech therapy sessions and other activities. The program also serves as a one-stop shop for the parents, who can receive all the services they need under one roof.
  • Preschool: A preschool program for children aged three to six years. The program follows the national curriculum for preschool education, with adaptations for the needs of the children with hearing loss. The program also includes speech therapy sessions, music therapy, art therapy, drama therapy, physical education, field trips, and more.
  • Support groups: Various support groups for parents, siblings, grandparents, or other relatives of the children with hearing loss. The groups provide a safe space for sharing experiences, feelings, challenges, and coping strategies.
  • Hearing aid bank: A service that allows families to receive hearing aids on loan from Beit Micha until they can purchase their own devices or receive them from other sources.
  • Advocacy: A service that promotes awareness and education about hearing loss in the public sphere. It also advocates for the rights and needs of children with hearing loss in various forums and platforms.

The impact and achievements of Beit Micha

Beit Micha has made a significant impact on the lives of children with hearing loss and their families in Israel. Some of its achievements are:

  • It has screened over 100,000 newborns for hearing loss since 1995, and has identified and treated over 2,000 children with hearing loss.
  • It has helped 90% of its graduates to integrate into regular elementary schools by the age of six, and to continue their academic and social success throughout their lives.
  • It has trained and certified hundreds of professionals in the field of hearing loss, such as audiologists, speech therapists, teachers, and social workers.
  • It has established partnerships and collaborations with leading organizations and institutions in Israel and abroad, such as the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, the Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Haifa, the University of Toronto, the University of Melbourne, the John Tracy Clinic, and the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
  • It has received numerous awards and recognitions for its excellence and innovation, such as the Israel Prize for Special Education in 2003, the Midot Seal of Effectiveness in 2016, and the Zero Project Award for Inclusive Education in 2019.

Beit Micha is a remarkable center that offers hope and care for children with hearing loss and their families. It is a place where children can learn to hear, speak, and communicate with the world. It is a place where parents can find support, guidance, and empowerment. It is a place where society can become more inclusive, diverse, and respectful.

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