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Hearing his joy - Device raises spirits of 3-y-o afflicted by rare condition; warms mother's heart

Published:Friday | January 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Javail Pennant wearing his his hearing aid.
Mother and son find something of interest on the tablet.
In this Thursday June 29, 2017 photo, Dane Richardson, CEO of the Digicel Foundation, talks with Sophia Dixon and her son, Javail Pennant, at the Chinese Benevolent Association of Jamaica.

There is a long way to go before three-year-old Javail Pennant can have some semblance of a normal life, but for now, his devoted mother, Sophia Dixon is content to just give thanks for the "blessing of hearing", as she puts it.

Afflicted with aural atresia, a condition whereby his external ear canal is all but absent, Javail required a bone conduction headset, a kind of hearing aid which converts sounds into vibrations, that are then sent through the bones of the skull directly to the inner ear.

"He's a lot more confident since he got the hearing device. Whenever he's watching cartoons, he repeats the words like C-A-T and D-O-G, he makes the sound and everything. His speech still isn't very clear, but as a parent knowing his struggles, words can't express the way his recent development makes me feel," stated Dixon while adding that she no longer has to shout for him to hear her.

Born three weeks premature, Javail also suffers from goldenhar syndrome, scoliosis, hernia, and Bell's palsy.

The toddler's plight was first covered by The Gleaner in June last year after the Digicel Foundation identified his special needs.

Thereafter, the toddler was tended to by audiologists from Starkey Hearing Foundation and was gifted the headset in December.


Loves the device


Since then, Dixon says the device has become an almost permanent fixture in the youngster's life.

"I take it off at nights before he goes to sleep, but as him wake up, he starts to stretch for it or he touches me and points to it. He really loves it. He really seems happier since he has the use of it, and even though it's too soon to tell, I know it will help his schooling as well," Dixon remarked of Javail, who is a current enrollee at the Danny Williams School for the Deaf and Pre-school.

In bemoaning hard times, the mother of two has heaped praises on Starkey and the Digicel Foundation for the "priceless" aid they have given to her only son.

"I couldn't afford something like this, so I am really grateful for what they have done for me and my son. I just want him to grow and live as normal a life as possible. He has potential, and with more blessings like this, I know he'll be a success," said Dixon.