Dr. Angela Schenk, of Gardner Audiology in Crystal River and Inverness, is an audiologist with the highest degree in hearing science and a hearing aid expert. But she’s also a mom of hearing impaired children and wife of a hearing aid user.
Originally from Greenwood, Indiana, she joined Gardner Audiology in 2013, after working in the field for 13 years in both Florida and Nevada. Her husband Steve, a professor in the biology department at CFC’s Citrus campus, has worn a hearing aid since he was a child, and their two children are hearing-impaired as well—the result of a genetic condition called Branchio-Oto-Renal syndrome (BOR).
Her oldest son’s hearing appeared normal when he was born. “Our son had one ear that was smaller than the other,” said Schenk, “but he passed his newborn hearing screening so not much was thought of it by us or his pediatrician.” He learned to speak normally, but soon after the birth of her youngest son a little more than two years later, the Schenks noticed that he wasn’t responding as well to their voices. He got a hearing aid at the age of two and a half.
Her profession allows Dr. Schenk to not only understand her children’s needs, but also the ever-improving technologies available to help them hear. When her youngest son was born with barely-formed ears and no apparent ear canals, she was “devastated.”
Her son had a CT scan soon after his birth, and it was discovered that his middle and inner ears were intact—making him a candidate for hearing aids. He was fit with his first one at 3 weeks old, and started speech-language therapy at 10 months.
Now, thanks to more than four years of speech therapy, his hearing aids, and his effort, she said her younger son’s speech is understandable to most listeners.
“His grandparents constantly tell me how much his speech has improved when they talk on the phone or via Skype,” she said. “He LOVES his hearing aid and will not go without it unless he is playing in water. He even sleeps in it!”
At the age of five, he’ll be eligible for a bone-anchored hearing aid. Dr. Schenk explained that this is an implantable prosthetic device. “Titanium screws are implanted in the bone behind the ear.” An abutment allows a hearing aid to be attached. “Because it is implanted, we no longer have to go through hair and skin—there is direct stimulation to the bone and therefore better hearing.”
Dr. Schenk’s experience as an audiologist allows her to understand how best to meet the needs of her hearing-impaired children and her adult patients in Inverness and Crystal River. Gardner Audiology is located in Crystal River at 700 SE 5th Terrace, Ste. 11. They can be reached by phone at 352-795-5700, or on the Web at http://gardneraudiology.com/.