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Giving Back

Susan and Jim Gallo of Atlanta, Georgia donate to AG Bell annually as a way to give back in thanks for all the help their daughter Elizabeth received over the years.

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By Lisa Goldstein

Elizabeth Gallo was born with a sensorineural loss that was not diagnosed until she was about 21 months old. The diagnosis was a flat bilateral hearing loss that was described as primarily a volume issue. It was supposed to be easier to correct than a loss that also had distortion as a factor.

The family pursued speech therapy through their children’s hospital until Elizabeth was old enough to attend a preschool for kids with hearing loss at one of the local elementary schools. After two years there, she was mainstreamed into a kindergarten class at the same school. The Gallos attribute Elizabeth’s success to the dedicated hearing professionals they were fortunate to meet.

“Although there may have been an early lag in some areas due to her hearing delay, she was quite successful academically,” Susan Gallo wrote in a letter to AG Bell. Elizabeth didn’t begin to hear or recognize language until she was almost two, so some of the early lags include learning how to actively listen and pronounce sounds she couldn’t hear. Speech therapy was incredibly helpful but could feel disruptive to the school routine and was a reminder that she needed special help that other children around her did not, her mom said.

After learning to speak, conceptual learning was delayed to some degree. As a result, Elizabeth often missed things said in class or said or did something that created a sound she didn’t realize others could hear. This sometimes got her in trouble. For example, once she hummed to herself as the class walked through the hallways. She didn’t realize that others could hear her because she had never heard anyone hum.

“Over time, Elizabeth recognized that she must be actively listening at all times in order not to miss something being said by those around her,” Susan said. “Being [hard of hearing] and adjusting to the hearing world is a transition that continues to this day. Over time, she has learned how to adapt.” This includes lipreading, sitting in the front of the class, using a transcriptionist when available, relying on friends who will clearly repeat something verbatim, or immediately relaying to new co-workers that she is hard of hearing.

Elizabeth’s hearing loss did not keep her from pursuing many interests. She has been an artist and athlete since she was quite young. While in high school, she was heavily involved in the visual arts, played lacrosse, and swam. She also played and coached lacrosse in college.

Elizabeth won awards from both her undergraduate majors – geology and geography – at the University of Alabama. After finishing her PhD in hydrology at the Colorado School of Mines, Elizabeth was hired at Geosyntec Consultants, where she is a senior staff scientist specializing in urban water management, urban stormwater modeling, and stormwater control measures.

Outside of work, Elizabeth – who wears ReSound LiNX Quattro programmable hearing aids — is very social with a large friend group. She loves mountain and road biking, back country snowboarding, and is learning how to play the harmonica.

Her mother described her as a smart, funny, kind and empathetic young woman – a wonderful friend, daughter, and granddaughter.

“Helping to fund AG Bell is a way we can give back in hopes that another young person, with assistance from AG Bell, will grow and prosper as has our Elizabeth,” Susan Gallo wrote.

 

Corresponder con ayuda

Susan y Jim Gallo de Atlanta, Georgia, realizan anualmente una donación a AG Bell como una forma de agradecer toda la ayuda que recibió su hija Elizabeth a lo largo de los años.

Elizabeth Gallo nació con una pérdida neurosensorial que no fue diagnosticada hasta la edad de 21 meses. El diagnóstico fue una pérdida auditiva bilateral plana que se describió principalmente como un problema de volumen. Se suponía que era más fácil de corregir que una pérdida que también tuviera distorsión como factor.

La familia recurrió a un logopeda a través del hospital de sus hijos hasta que Elizabeth tuvo edad suficiente para asistir a un programa de preescolar para niños con pérdida auditiva en una de las escuelas primarias locales. Después de dos años, pasó a preescolar del sistema educativo ordinario en la misma escuela. Los Gallo atribuyen el éxito de Elizabeth a los dedicados profesionales de la audición que tuvieron la suerte de conocer.

«Si bien es posible que existiera un retraso temprano en algunas áreas debido a su retraso auditivo, ha tenido un gran éxito académico», explica Susan Gallo en una carta dirigida a AG Bell. Elizabeth no comenzó a oír o a reconocer el lenguaje hasta que tuvo casi dos años, por lo que algunos de los primeros retrasos incluyen el aprendizaje de la escucha activa y la pronunciación de sonidos que no podía oír. La logopedia fue extremadamente útil, si bien podría parecer que entorpecía la rutina escolar y era un recordatorio de que necesitaba una ayuda especial que otros niños a su alrededor no necesitaban, añade Susan.

Después de aprender a hablar, el aprendizaje conceptual se retrasó hasta cierto punto. Como resultado, Elizabeth no tenía acceso a todo lo que se decía en clase o hacía algo que generaba un sonido que desconocía que el resto de la clase podía oír, por lo que a veces se metía en problemas. Por ejemplo, en una ocasión iba tatareando mientras caminaba con la clase por los pasillos. No se daba cuenta de que otros podían oírla porque ella nunca había oído tatarear a otras personas.

«Con el tiempo, Elizabeth se dio cuenta de que debía practicar la escucha activa en todo momento para no perderse nada de lo que decían las personas a su alrededor», comenta Susan. «Tener hipoacusia y adaptarse al mundo de las personas que oyen con normalidad es una transición que continúa hasta el día de hoy. Con el tiempo, ha aprendido a adaptarse». Esta adaptación incluye leer los labios, sentarse en la parte delantera de la clase, usar un transcriptor cuando está disponible, confiar en que sus amigos repetirán algo con claridad, palabra por palabra, o informar de inmediato a los nuevos compañeros de trabajo de que tiene hipoacusia.

La pérdida auditiva de Elizabeth no le ha impedido perseguir muchos intereses. Desde muy joven es artista y deportista. Mientras estudiaba secundaria, realizó numerosas actividades de artes visuales, jugó al lacrosse y practicó la natación. También entrenó y jugó al lacrosse durante la etapa universitaria.

Elizabeth fue galardonada en sus dos carreras de grado (geología y geografía) en la University of Alabama. Tras finalizar un doctorado en hidrología en la Colorado School of Mines, Elizabeth fue contratada por Geosyntec Consultants, donde es científica sénior especializada en gestión de aguas urbanas, modelado de aguas pluviales urbanas y medidas de control de aguas pluviales.

Fuera del trabajo, Elizabeth, que utiliza audífonos programables ReSound LiNX Quattro, es una persona muy sociable que cuenta con un gran grupo de amigos. Le encanta el ciclismo de montaña y de carretera, el snowboard de travesía y está aprendiendo a tocar la armónica.

Su madre la describe como una joven inteligente, divertida, amable y empática: una amiga, hija y nieta maravillosa.

«Ayudar en la financiación de AG Bell es una forma de corresponder con la esperanza de que otra persona joven, con la ayuda de AG Bell, crezca y prospere como lo ha hecho nuestra hija», concluye Susan Gallo.

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