Our Children's Success Stories

Sahan Sugumaran

We welcomed our son into the world in February 2014. We were introduced to the world of hearing loss when Sahan didn't pass his initial hearing screening. Series of tests confirmed that he was born with severe to prdound bilateral hearing loss. As parents, questions around Sahan's future kept playing in our minds as it is a highly dauting diagnosis, and a tad terrifying when you realize your child may miss out living life to his full potential.

When we found out that Sahan had a chance of being part of the hearing world, we made the decision to go down the cochlear implant path and moved across continents for him to receive listening and spoken language support services at the CCHAT Center.

We left all that we knew in Singapore and accepted a job transfer to come here. I knew our new CCHAT family would be there for us and Sahan. We've witnessed the incredible dedication, passion and love that the staff exudes. From the beginning, we've felt welcomed and supported.

Sahan has been attending CCHAT for nearly 2 years. With support from his teachers, speech therapist, teacher aides and audiologist, he has made incredible progress. He actually has an American accent and has begun to correct mine too!

For CCHAT to be able to provide the services necessary for children like Sahan to live life without limits, it requires more than just the amazing commitment, enthusiasm and professional expertise of the staff. For every child attending the CCHAT Center, approximately $10,000 must be raised each year.

Please consider donating as every bit will count and go towards changing the lives of children like Sahan as they learn to listen and speak for themselves. It really does take a village.

~ The Sugumaran Family

Sahan Sugumaran

Bryce Dougherty

Bryce arrived four weeks early, but despite his prematurity, his doctor was amazed at how healthy he was. He had high APGAR scores, so the last thing we thought about was hearing loss.

His first hospital hearing screening was inconclusive and the second was also inconclusive but blamed on the equipment.

We had no idea of the severity of his hearing loss, so we thought he was developing typically.

After a referral that didn’t work out, Bryce had two more sleep Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Tests; one was inconclusive due to external noise and the second one was done by a student-audiologist, who did not correctly apply the electrodes, causing Bryce to wake up and invalidate the results.

At this point, Bryce was only 10 months old and we didn't know what to do. We were confused, and partly in denial. Luckily, we had friends who dealt with at-risk infants who told us to call the Audiology Department at (then) Oakland Children's Hospital.

We were told that because the ABR test requires the baby to be asleep, Bryce would have to be sedated. WHAT? Our beautiful healthy and typically developing precious baby would have to be sedated? Well, we wanted a bonafide answer, so we agreed.

Unfavorable test results came back indicating Bryce had severe hearing loss in both ears.

Bryce was quickly fitted for hearing aids and later a cochlear implant surgery was suggested.

During this time, Oakland Children's Hospital counseled us on our educational options.

We chose auditory-oral and were told that CCHAT provided these services and was 50 miles from our house. Bryce started CCHAT before he was implanted.

Our advice to other parents is the same that CCHAT parents of older children told us: Follow through with the audiologist's instructions, no matter if it seems like an uphill battle. Trust the staff at CCHAT; they are experts at teaching listening-spoken language. Be consistent with attendance, and practice at home what the staff recommends.

CCHAT never gave up on Bryce. They encouraged him to speak and provided all-day opportunities for him to do so. They combine their expertise with the love that they have for the kiddos. After being in education for 18 years, I’ve never seen a staff like CCHAT’s.

And it’s not just the staff, the bond between parents has become our own informal support group. I have learned so much from other parents!

Bryce had a great start to his kindergarten year at his neighborhood school in Galt.

Not even a full month in and he was one of the first in his class to demonstrate mastery of ALL of the kindergarten sight words.

So proud of you, Bryce. Keep up the great work!

~ The Dougherty Family

Bryce Dougherty

Cruz Cordova

When we were told that our 9-day-old son, Cruz, suffered from bilateral sensorineural severe to profound hearing loss, it was difficult to process or even understand that our son was deaf.

We were welcomed at the CCHAT Center a couple of hours after receiving his diagnosis. The moment we walked in the door, we were treated like family. We were greeted with, "We understand, we get it, we are here for you." We could have never imagined the amount of support and guidance that we have been provided. CCHAT has helped in the process of finding our surgeon; provided a support group; speech therapy; and face-to-face contact with others that truly get what we are experiencing. Because of CCHAT, we no longer fear our son's deafness as a disability, but accept it as 'A beautiful journey we never imagined.'

~ The Cordova Family

Cruz Cordova

Dylan White

Dylan White was born on July 4th, 2008. Dylan overcame many difficult challenges at birth. He was born prematurely at 32 weeks without a recorded heart rate for first 11 minutes and 52 seconds of life. Dylan stayed nearly 3 months in Sutter Memorial Neonatal intensive care unit. He underwent multiple life-saving surgeries during his stay due to prematurity and oxygen loss. Dylan's oxygen loss left him with moderate hearing loss in both ears. Dylan began wearing traditional hearing aids when he was 5 months old.

In January 2011, we discovered the services provided at CCHAT after a chance encounter with another parent. Dylan began attending CCHAT within 2 weeks and we noticed a significant improvement in Dylan's verbal communication right away.Within 6 weeks of attending CCHAT, Dylan began vocalizing his wants and needs more and crying less out of frustation. After 2 + years at CCHAT, Dylan is catching up to his older brothers and giving them an earful on daily basis. CCHAT has given Dylan a fighting chance at a life of normalcy we did not expect to happen prior to CCHAT. There is no way we could ever thank CCHAT enough for what they have given Dylan and our family. ~ The White Family

Dylan White

Reagan Wilson

It wasn't until Reagan turned 3 that we found out she was moderately/severely deaf in both ears. We were shocked to receive this news as Reagan and her twin brother, Reid, both had passed their newborn hearing tests. However, we were determined to meet this challenge head-on by quickly getting her fitted with hearing aids, enrolling her in a pre-school program and taking her to one-hour speech therapy sessions twice a week. Because of her severe and undetected hearing loss, Reagan had missed out on valuable years of listening, learning and language skills.

Even though her hearing aids assisted her ability to perceive voices and sound, Reagan would continue to 'shut down,' become introverted, and often times display bouts of anxiety and frustation with others because she did not truly understand what was said to her, nor did she have the capability to communicate her needs, ideas and feelings in return. She had always been a hard-worker at home and at school, but it was apparent that, despite all that we had been doing for her to get her caught up to her hearing peers, Reagan needed additional assistance provided by audiology experts within the educational field.

Our journey with CCHAT began in July 2012, during its three-week summer school program. The entire CCHAT staff, teachers, teacher's aides and former students welcomed Reagan and her twin brother with open arms. Surrounded by warm smiles and an enormous amount of enthusiasm each day, it was clear to us that CCHAT was the perfect educational and social environment for our twins to thrive. Remarkably, in this short amount of time during summer school, Reagan began to evolve in to a completely different child. Participating in a classroom filled with other students that wear hearing aids and cochlear implants helped Reagan to truly understand that she is not alone on this life-long passage. With this new found sense of camaraderie with her peers, Reagan's confidence began to soar. Friends and family members that hadn't seen her in a while noticed immediately. She smiled more, and became more outspoken and expressive with her ideas and experiences. Reagan began to shine!

In the fall of 2012, Reid and Reagan enetered their first year at CCHAT, and we are forever grateful. Every day, they wake up thrilled to go to school! Leah is an extraordinary teacher -- she is so patient, compassionate and encouraging to all the students. Reid and Reagan are actually reading and writing...we love Leah! And Matt is always so helpful and fun with all of the kids...it's an outstanding classroom!

Every day, Reagan attends speech therapy with Lisa, and words cannot fully express our heartfelt gratitude towards her. She has given Reagan the confidence, self-advocacy and the invaluable tools to process spoken language, allowing Reagan's receptive and expressive skills to thrive beyond measure. During our time at CCHAT, Lisa has not only become Reagan's greatest champion, she has also become a dear friend to our family.

From the moment we first walked through the doors at CCHAT, Licia took our family under her wing. She has always been a positive, genuine and honest friend, and we feel incredibly relieved to know that Licia will always stand shoulder to shoulder with us - as a life-long friend and mentor - as we continue to move forward on our journey!

This fall, Reid and Reagan will be transitioning to our local public elementary school. Thank you CCHAT! Our hearts continue to melt each and every day as we watch our beautiful Reagan continue to blossom into an assertive, ambitious and amazing little girl. We are deeply grateful to Leah, Lisa, Licia and Laura for always having our back...YOU ROCK! The entire staff at CCHAT is incredible, and they continue to serve as an inspiration to our family. We are forever in your debt. ~ The Wilson family.

Reagan Wilson

Teacher Highlight: Diane Durston

The best teachers are said to be those who can think outside the box. At the CCHAT Center, sometimes this means getting in the box...literally. No matter how grumpy a child might be, through the magical power of a cardboard box (or an amazing teacher), a jump into Diane's mysterious attitude adjustment box always results in a smiling face and positive attitude.

Diane teaches with her heart. She is passionate, caring, alive, present, inspiring, real and possesses a love for what she is teaching. Teaching a profoundly deaf child to listen and speak takes skill, patience, creativity and a leap of faith. Diane genuinely believes every child with hearing loss is capable of learning to listen and talk. This expectation creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. The children, parents and staff sense her confidence and work to make it happen.

Diane begrudgingly tolerates the massive amounts of paperwork and testing now required of teachers in special education. She rolls her eyes at fancy, expensive materials and technology. She firmly believes her time is best spent with her students and that she can do her lesson with old fashioned balloons. She makes classroom experiences exciting and memorable. Think tactile, unexpected, movement-oriented, and a little bit crazy...and you will be on the right track. She celebrates the smallest student successes, shows compassion for struggling parents, laughs at her own mistakes and isn't afraid to be imperfectly human in front of her students.

I feel privileged to have worked with someone who reminds me on a daily basis to believe in children, to be compassionate, to laugh and to make decisions with my heart. Diane, thank you for your unwavering conviction that every child deserves both a chance and our respect and for your constant support and belief in me. You made a difference. ~ with much appreciation, Laura

Teacher Highlight: Diane Durston