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Program for Hearing Impaired Kids Shows Signs of Success

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FAYETTEVILLE — A Cumberland County Program for deaf and hearing impaired children is being recognized as one of the best in the state for its creative way of reaching out.

Every day, Knox Riddle visits with 17-year-old Thomas. Both men are deaf. Knox's goal is to help Thomas work through the frustration of not being able to hear.

"Sometimes a hearing adult wouldn't sign as well as a deaf adult does, wouldn't understand the needs as well. A deaf adult would understand the needs better in order to do future planning," says Riddle.

Together, they plan for the future. As part of a Cumberland County Mental Health program, Knox works with many deaf children. He helps them deal with their problems and shows how to solve them.

Deaf and hearing-impaired children experience the same mental health issues as the hearing population, but research shows many of them do not get help because services are not available in most communities.

The program provides students with role models and counseling at school.

"When anybody doesn't get help, they can decompensate, do poorly in school and get sent to a more restrictive environment they really don't need -- sent away from their families," says program coordinator Stephen Gage.

Gage says early intervention is the key, so deaf children, like all others, can achieve at their highest potential.

This is the second time in three years a children's program at Cumberland County Mental Health has been recognized as one of the best in the state.


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