LA Hands & Voices, Director
Hi! My name is Jill Guidry, and I live in southwest Louisiana. I love being part of Hands & Voices and the Guide by Your Side Program. My husband is an avid fisherman, and we enjoy camping at Toledo Bend. We have three children, Matthew, Kaye and Sara. We live in Sulphur and raise horses, goats and chickens, along with three dogs and a cat. I am a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing students, and have taught at the elementary and middle school for 19 years.
My oldest daughter Kaye was diagnosed with a profound bilateral hearing loss bilaterally at 2 years of age. Her loss was progressive; only a mild loss in one ear at birth. I remember clearly the day the audiologist told me she had a profound hearing loss. I felt overwhelmed, afraid and alone. However, I share with you that her hearing loss has not defined or limited her life. She attended mainstream classes in our home school district with support services that enabled her to be successful. We were blessed to have early interventionists and teachers who offered guidance and support during our journey, and I enjoy giving back to our community and offer by offering hope and encouragement to families. I am excited to be a part of the incredible Louisiana Hands & Voices Guide by Your Side program.
Guide By Your Side program coordinator
Hi! My name is Nicole DeLeon, and I am the Guide by Your Side Coordinator with Hands & Voices. I definitely would say that my life has not turned out the way I ever dreamed it would. I have two boys, Luke who is 16 years old and Noah who is 13 years old. Luke was diagnosed at the age of 2 ½ with auditory neuropathy. I knew that something was wrong because he was not really talking much. I had his hearing tested several times and he would always pass in the sound booth. After his second set of tubes at the age of 2, the doctor suggested we do an ABR. On that day the doctor told us “Your son is not deaf but he can’t hear”. We thought to ourselves, “What does that mean?” They told us that Luke had auditory neuropathy and that he qualified for a cochlear implant. We went through all types of emotions. How could this be? No one in our family has a hearing loss. But, I told myself it could always be worse! From that point on I did everything that I could to be strong for my family and especially for my son. My husband and I had so many decisions to make: where will he go to school, will he be ready for kindergarten, what type of speech therapy should he attend, sign language, cued speech? The list went on and on.
I forgot to mention… I was also pregnant with Noah at the time. We were told that the cause of Luke’s hearing loss was his prematurity, and that it would be highly unlikely that Noah would also be born with auditory neuropathy. Guess what? They were wrong!!! We went through all the same emotions again, but at least this time we had a little more experience. Since Noah was identified at 3 months of age, he was able to be implanted at 18 months. Luke and Noah have two totally different personalities so the experience has been quite different for both. They are best friends and I am glad that they are able to support each other when sometimes we as their parents don’t understand.
Today they are in mainstream classrooms. Luke is a High School sophomore and Noah is in 7th grade. They both play sports and do Kung Fu. They are fearless! They inspire my husband and me every day. They have inspired me to dream bigger dreams, and for that I am always thankful for the two blessings that God has given me!