A devoted parent will do anything for their children. For a Dallas dad it was as simple as deciding to wear a pair of purple hearing aids he simply does not need. But he’s wearing them to make sure his little girl hears loud and clear that she’s not facing her struggles in life alone.
Truly Urso is 4 years old. She has hearing loss. Her dad, Joe Urso says it was discovered about a year ago. She was losing the ability to hear higher frequencies in the normal hearing range. He worried about potential speech and learning difficulties. So in consultation with the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas, he had Truly outfitted with a pair of hearing aids. They are purple because that’s Truly’s favorite color.
Earlier this week she received an upgrade to those hearing aids. They are now connected to a transmitter that a parent or school teacher can wear around their neck. The sounds are transmitted via FM signals directly to Truly’s hearing aids.
The technology also makes the use of headphones unnecessary because the device can also be plugged into televisions, computers, DVD players, and mobile devices enabling her to hear music and education programs directly through her hearing aids. At her Tuesday appointment at the Callier Center, Truly smiled when she was the only one in the exam room who could hear “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen broadcast only to her hearing aids from an iPhone.
But Joe Urso wanted one more upgrade. He had Truly’s doctors do a quick inspection of his own ears with an otoscope to prove it tickled his ears too. Then the Callier Center team presented him with his own hearing aids they’d ordered weeks before. His hearing aids are purple just like his daughter’s. But they are fake. He doesn’t need them.
"In fact sometimes when she doesn't want to wear hers she'll say Daddy wear yours and I'll wear mine. So it's been a very effective tool for us."
Without hearing aids he says his daughter had a tendency to withdraw from social situations. And that when wearing them there was the concern that she’d feel different, perhaps ostracized as the odd one out when she started school. He wanted a pretend pair of hearing aids for himself so he could model good behavior for his daughter while also proving there was nothing wrong with rocking a cool pair of purple hearing devices.
"He doesn't want her hearing to stand in the way of her learning. And I think that's great,” said Kenneth Pugh, PhD with the Callier Center. "If your kid's enrolled in soccer, you're going to go to soccer. Your kid has piano lessons you're going to do that too. So this kind of fits that mold."
As for raising a daughter with healthy self-esteem, Joe Urso’s plan is clearly already working. During News 8's interview a happy 4-year-old announced she was actually four and-a-half. Five minutes later, with a smile on her face, she announced she’d already advanced to four-and-three-quarters.
"She means everything to me,” Joe Urso said of the daughter he calls his little angel. “I can't imagine my life without her. And we'll do everything we can to help her have as many opportunities as humanly possible.”
Opportunities provided by a pair of pair of working hearing aids and a second pair that don’t. But then again just by wearing them, maybe Dad's pretend hearing aids are working just fine.