CCHAT Spotlight: Nico Borgatti
One recent day at CCHAT, 3-year-old Nico Borgatti arrived at school. After hanging up his backpack, he retrieved his hearing assistive technology receivers and affixed them to his cochlear implants. Upon completing his morning listening checks, Nico had a question for his teacher.
“Can I go play now?”
With her approval, Nico bounced to the carpet and sat down next to a friend.
“Hey, can I have some blocks?”
The two began delightfully sharing their toys. A short time later, Nico lit up with excitement.
“I’m making a caterpillar!”
Nico’s progress still amazes his parents, Dan and Jen, who upon learning of his deafness just 10 days after his birth, began asking the same questions that many CCHAT families do. Will Nico have friends? Will he be able to get married? Can he live a fulfilled life?
Nico’s hearing loss journey began the night he was born. The Borgattis’ second son failed his initial newborn hearing screening. Slightly alarmed, Jen stayed an extra night in the hospital to have the test performed again. After failing to pass a second time, Nico was scheduled for an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test 10 days later.
Jen recalls the intensity of that day.
“I remember having to remind myself to breathe during the two-hour test, as I held my sleeping baby,” she said. “At the end of the exam, the audiologist informed us that Nico had no responses at all levels. My child was deaf. I suddenly was unsure about his future. Everything was unknown.”
Amidst the emotion of the diagnosis, an intern at the ENT facility suggested the Borgattis visit the CCHAT Center. Within a week, a tour was scheduled.
“Prior to setting foot in CCHAT’s doors, I was completely overwhelmed,” Jen said. “I felt like I was drowning in doubt for my child’s future.”
Jen’s despair began to fade away within minutes of arriving at CCHAT. As Dan and Jen toured classrooms and met staff members, they witnessed a young CCHAT student walking the hallways.
“Someone called to her and said, ‘Brooke, say hello.’ She had her back turned. She stopped, having heard that person call to her and smiled up at me and said the sweetest, ‘Hi!’” Jen recalled. “She continued on her way and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. This little girl who was also born deaf just spoke to me like any other kid. From that moment on, I had hope.”
The prospect of their child with hearing loss learning how to listen and speak may have been a shock to Dan and Jen because their family’s prior experience with deafness was quite different.
Nico’s paternal grandfather was also born deaf. His hearing loss wasn’t diagnosed until age 4.
“(Nico’s grandfather) attended Riverside School for the Deaf and communicates via ASL,” Jen said. “After receiving Nico’s diagnosis, we decided to have genetic testing done. We found out that our family members are carriers of Connexin 26. This was helpful information for all of us because my father-in-law’s cause of hearing loss was unknown prior to Nico’s birth.”
With a sense of hope after their visit to CCHAT, the Borgattis immediately enrolled Nico, and their son joined CCHAT’s Baby & Me program just days later.
“We dove head first into the listening and spoken language (LSL) strategies that we were taught in Baby & Me at CCHAT,” Jen said. “We practiced them all the time at home while Nico was a baby. Today, they are a part of our world without even thinking about it.”
As Nico begins preschool this year, his language development has afforded him the ability to communicate and participate in all family activities. His best friend is his older brother Louis, who spent two years at CCHAT as a reverse mainstream student -- a child with typical hearing who serves as a language model for CCHAT students with hearing loss. Together, they join Dan and Jen on family camping trips and bike rides, and the four Borgattis love to visit the local library for family reading sessions.
Knowing her initial feeling of hopelessness is one shared by many families of children with hearing loss, Jen has set out to provide these families with a lifeline. She recently started “The Cochlear Mom,” a blog full of tips and advice for parents navigating the hearing loss journey.
“We are so fortunate to have this community at CCHAT,” Jen said. “There is such a wealth of advice and information to share that I want families from all over the world to feel like they are here with us. Ultimately, the blog is meant to help other children that are born deaf or hard of hearing and their families feel better prepared for this journey.”
Despite her fears after Nico’s birth, Jen feels grateful to have found CCHAT. She points to the program, as well as her family’s commitment to succeed, as the main factors in Nico’s substantial speech and listening development.
“I credit LSL and our dedication to it as one of the huge reasons Nico is doing so well,” Jen said. “Without CCHAT to help us understand these skills, he wouldn’t have caught up so quickly.”
CCHAT emphasizes the importance of parent involvement. To see how CCHAT supports families like the Borgattis during their hearing loss journey, visit our Parent Support & Resources page