My name is Bess Wolff and I’m the parent of a very wild 3 year old, named Marshall. Marshall was diagnosed with mild to moderate bilateral hearing loss just shy of his second birthday after passing his newborn screening test. We became concerned about a language delay at 16 months and it took the next 6 months to get a diagnosis. I am very much a doer, a planner, and a researcher. So, when we got the news, we didn’t waste any time asking our ENT and audiologist what now. A slew of appointments, worry, research and generally feeling unprepared is what came next. Marshall is now bilaterally aided. In our home we use spoken language, very limited sign language, an augmentative and alternative communication device (AAC), social stories, an FM system, and a whole lot of pointing to communicate. Marshall is attending Carle Auditory Oral School here in Champaign-Urbana, but we also heavily considered our local public school. He continues to work with deaf educators, speech language pathologists, and an occupational therapist. Marshall doesn’t communicate much verbally yet, but he sure is loud. Aside from his hearing loss, Marshall is also globally developmentally delayed and is being monitored by a developmental pediatrician for possible other diagnoses. Our little family lives in Champaign, IL (aka Central IL) where I work in finance and my husband works in electrical fuse research and development. We can both bore your ears off in our respective fields, but only I know when to stop. Aside from working, we love to spend our free time enjoying the many offerings of our community. There are wonderful parks, festivals, farms and orchards, restaurants and night life in Champaign-Urbana. There are also wonderful resources for deaf and hard of hearing children in the area; we consider ourselves very fortunate to be in this community for our son. Our family is still new in our journey and still trying new things and retrying things that didn’t work for us six months ago, like sign language. We rely heavily on our experts consisting of his medical team, therapists, teachers, established and respected organizations, and fellow parents to share their experiences and expertise with us so we can make the most informed decisions for our family and make sure we are giving Marshall full access to communication and language. This is how I ended up finding Illinois Hands & Voices and Guide By Your Side. When everything was still so new and I couldn’t speak about it without crying, my parent guide from Guide By Your Side helped me learn that it was ok to cry, but that also someday I wouldn’t. It finally happened, yesterday. We still have so many unknowns and we may always, but thanks to Illinois Hands & Voices I have great resources to tackle the unknowns. I’m no expert by any means, but I am happy to share my knowledge and our experiences with anyone that’s feeling overwhelmed. I joined Illinois Hands & Voices to help my family get answers and I joined Illinois Hands & Voices Board to help other families feel connected, informed, engaged, and heard.