Turkia and her family came to Jordan as refugees from Syria about six years ago. She has three children with disabilities, and as with most Syrians, they depend on aid for living.
Turkia’s three-year-old, Ahmed, is hearing impaired. About a year and half ago, he received hearing aids from an organization, but, sadly, he did not receive any follow-up appointments. Because Ahmed’s ears are slightly deformed, the hearing aids did not fit him well. According to Turkia, one of them kept falling off of his ear, and then, frustrated, he would yank both of them off. One hearing aid soon broke, and when Turkia went back to see if they could fix it, the organization explained that they only hand out hearing aids, not fix them or customize them.
Ahmed now wears the one working hearing aid, half in and half out of his ear. He has gotten used to it and does not pull it out anymore. It seems to help him hear very loud sounds, like hand clapping or someone loudly calling his name.
When Dr. Brian Fligor, audiologist at Lantos Technologies, Inc., and president of Boston Audiology Consultants, Inc., heard about Ahmed’s situation, his assessment was distressing. He explained that Ahmed’s hearing aid problems could very easily be remedied, if his hearing aids were simply fitted properly. To Dr. Fligor is was obvious that Ahmed’s working hearing aid was fitted with an ear hook and tubing made for an adult, not a small child. Additionally, Dr. Fligor explained that, although the earmold fits Ahmed presently, it will need to be changed regularly, because young children outgrow their earmolds as quickly as they outgrow shoes. Already the improper fit for little Ahmed is limiting his access to sound, and if his earmold is not changed soon to fit his growing ear canal snugly, he will lose even more access to sound and his language may regress as a result.
These would be simple problems to solve, once 3DP4ME and our partners were fully operational on the ground in Jordan. 3dp4me would 3D scan/3D print Ahmed’s earmolds for his custom hearing aids, while adding an ear hook and tubing made for a child his age. We would set follow up appointments to visit Ahmed every six months to ensure his hearing aids were working properly. Most importantly, we would build a strong relationship with his family to make sure they felt honored.