Ask most parents of toddlers, and they will tell you that tantrums are part of growing up. For Jordan Kilgore, those tantrums led to a surprising discovery that changed her world for the better.
Jordan was born in January 2012, about six weeks early. By the time Jordan turned 18 months, she began having frequent tantrums. She also experienced recurring ear infections, and by the age of 2, she had not said her own name.
Her parents, Scarlotte and Allen Kilgore of Mountain Brook, were expecting Jordan’s pediatrician to recommend surgery for tubes to prevent future ear infections. A few months after her second birthday, in March 2014, the family was referred to Children’s of Alabama for a hearing and speech testing, a customary step prior to receiving tubes.
“They came into the exam room after Jordan’s hearing test and handed me pamphlets for hearing aids,” Scarlotte recalled. “I said to them, ‘No, no, we’re the Kilgores in room one. You must be looking for someone else in another room.’”
Jordan was diagnosed with moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss. It was news the Kilgores did not see coming.
Hearing loss affects about 12,000 children born in the United States each year, making it the nation’s most common birth defect.
The family soon sought a second opinion outside Children’s.
“Tthat was not a positive experience,” she said, “but it showed me just how fortunate we are to have Children’s. It made me appreciate what we have right here in our city that much more. There are so many families who have to drive from all over the state to take advantage of the services this facility offers, and it’s right here in my backyard.”
The next month, in April 2014, Jordan received her hearing aids. The Kilgores' insurance covered the devices, but that’s not always the case. The cost for a set of hearing aids for children can cost up to $4,000.
“Hearing aids, even for children, are viewed as elective. Only 19 states have some sort of stipend for hearing aids for children,” Scarlotte said. “My ultimate goal in all of this would be to get legislation introduced here in Alabama to provide coverage for hearing aids for children. Too many families are shouldering that financial burden.”
Looking back, Scarlotte said, they now understand that Jordan’s tantrums were out of frustration for not being able to communicate with family and friends. Because of her hearing loss, Jordan was unable to hear the ‘J’ sound at the start of her name. Now, she can speak in sentences.
“We’re in a whole different world now,” Scarlotte said. “The technology available to us is tremendous. We see new developments with Jordan about every six weeks. She loves her therapist, Wendy Piazza, and Jordan looks forward to seeing her every week for therapy at the HEAR Center.”
Every step along the way, the staff of Children’s has been amazing, Scarlotte said. “From that first pamphlet, to the tissues as I sobbed, to all the families they’ve helped connect us with, they have given us so much.”
Like many other little girls her age, Jordan loves the song, “Let It Go” from the hit Disney movie “Frozen.” Before her diagnosis, Jordan would hold Allen's or Scarlotte's cell phone closely to her ears to listen to the music. As she was being fitted with her new hearing aids at Children's on 3rd, dad Allen played the song on his cell phone from across the room. The volume was low, barely detectable to the others in room. But, right away, Jordan heard it loud and clear. She was finally able to simply enjoy it without having to hold the phone closely to her hears.
Today, with a third birthday quickly approaching, Jordan is making incredible strides and faces a bright future. “She doesn’t have any limitations, just hearing aids,” Scarlotte said.