All Ears! of The Woodlands — Shelley Mathay
All Ears! is the only preschool and therapy center in the greater Houston area based on Auditory-Verbal principles where deaf children learn spoken language alongside hearing peers.
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing tells us that hearing loss is the most common sensory disability in the United States, affecting 2 to 3 in every 1,000 children being born annually. However, when children are identified early and receive hearing technology and family-centered support, they can develop language on par with their peers and connect with the world around them.
The non-profit, All Ears! Listening & Language Center is a preschool and Auditory-Verbal Therapy center located in The Woodlands for children who have hearing loss and whose parents have chosen the spoken language option of communication for their child. The Auditory-Verbal approach uses hearing aids or a cochlear implant to help hearing impaired children learn to listen and understand spoken language as a way to communicate through speech.
The Woodlander recently caught up with Shelley Mathay – the Founder/Program Director of All Ears! – and 2 of her students, Ava Cannon and Logan Lozada, both of whom have cochlear implants. These small devices are surgically implanted behind the ear and provide a sense of sound to people who are deaf or severely hard of hearing.
Originally from Ohio, Mathay moved to The Woodlands in 1993. A certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist, Mathay earned her Bachelor of Science in deaf education from Kent State University. In 2014, her dream became reality when she opened All Ears! within The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church’s preschool, The Early Learning Program.
All Ears! is built on Auditory-Verbal principles wherein children participate in intensive listening, language and speech activities with a small teacher-to-student ratio, including one-on-one therapy. The children are given opportunities to practice their skills alongside their hearing peers within an accredited preschool setting. Unique to Auditory-Verbal therapy, families also learn these principles with their child so they can create listening and language opportunities for their children outside the classroom.
All Ears! is the only preschool and therapy center in the Greater Houston area based on Auditory-Verbal principles where deaf children learn spoken language alongside hearing peers.
As early intervention is the key to auditory brain development, All Ears! is eager to connect and support families from the moment they are informed their newborn did not pass the hospital hearing screening test.
“Finding All Ears! after we made the move to Texas was by far the best thing that has happened for our child, Luca, not only for his hearing and language skills, but also his social development,” smiles Rachel Pagani. “We don’t know where we would be without All Ears!.”
When not helping with All Ears!, Mathay enjoys spending time with her husband, Kirk, and their children, Tommy and Sophie.
All Ears! relies soley on donations as its funding source. Twice a year, Mathay helps with 2 fundraisers: “Toast & Taste” and a “Sporting Clays Tournament”.
“We are so grateful to the businesses, families and individuals who continue to support All Ears!,” explains Mathay. “Their funding is critical to our sustainment.”
Once a month, Mathay hosts a “Family Night” at which families of children with hearing loss can meet up for a casual dinner, trade knowledge and build community. Childcare is provided and the event is free and open to the public.