Jackson speech school offers free virtual audio testing to Coast kids

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday afternoon a grand opening was held for the first ever state of the art audiological virtual healthcare facility in South Mississippi.

The new center is located at the Knight Nonprofit Center in Gulfport. Officials with Magnolia Speech School out of Jackson said their satellite facility is giving them a chance to help more than just patients in Jackson.

The ribbon was cut for Magnolia Speech School out of Jackson. The school and its pediatric audiologists are located in the capital city, but they'll be providing free audiology testing to babies up to two years and 11-months-old right here in Gulfport.

A trained audiology assistant is going to place the equipment on the child in Gulfport. Meanwhile an audiologist will be working out of Jackson. They're going to operate all of that equipment.

"Once we're through completing the testing of the babies, what we're able to do at the that point is through video conferencing. I'm able to counsel the parents regarding the testing that we've done and develop a plan of action of what we're going to do next," said Pediatric Audiologist Jennifer Wiles.

This is Magnolia Speech School's first satellite facility in the state and it operates under a grant from the Oberkotter Foundation. And the school said the goal is to open three more satellite offices in other parts of the state.

"It's going to keep them from having to drive out of the State of Mississippi to find a pediatric audiologist that can help them with their child," said Dr. Tina Atkins with Magnolia Speech School.

Lauren Beckmann has a five and half-month-old daughter. She said the satellite office kept her from having to spend precious time driving to Jackson for this non-invasive and pain free test.

"She was tested twice at birth and it took the second time for her to pass. So we came over here."

If a child doesn't get tested and they have hearing loss a variety of issues can come up," Lauren Beckmann said.

"If a hearing loss is not caught early enough then the child's at risk of developing communication delays and following the communication delays, behavioral problems, academic delays," said Wiles.

From a school that's three hours north of the coast, to an office in Gulfport; audiologists are able to help young children with hearing loss on the coast through virtual healthcare.

Now if you think your child has hearing issues there are signs you can look for is:

  • Are they responding to speakers in their environment?
  • Do they seem to be unaware anyone is a around?
  • Do they not seem to respond to things like pans being dropped or doors being shut?

You can make a free appointment for your child by calling the Magnolia Speech School at 601-922-5530. According to officials, if not for their grant, testing would cost $600. Children 0 to 2 and 11 months old are eligible for the testing.

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