Lucky is an extremely outgoing 19-year-old with Down syndrome and hearing loss but for five years, he struggled to communicate with friends and family. After losing his hearing aids in 2014, the hard work he had done in speech therapy prior to that time was beginning to erode. Without a way to pay for new hearing aids, his family worked hard to communicate with him nonverbally, mostly through trial and error.
Then, during a recent home visit, they met Jessica Draper – a service coordinator for the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas. Her role is to help members who are part of the STAR Kids program, which covers children and young adults with disabilities in the state. With these visits, she’s able to assess their needs for services, empower the members and their families through education and provide encouragement with a friendly face.
After meeting with Lucky’s family and seeing firsthand the difficulties they faced in communicating with their son – with limited American Sign Language (ASL) knowledge but great patience – Jessica knew something had to be done. She connected them with an audiology provider and Lucky was able to receive new hearing aids in less than a month, including a custom fit with an audiologist.
It was a transformative moment when he had the hearing aids put in as he heard himself repeating his own name with pride. In the time since, Lucky has been making great strides with his communication skills.
“He’s delighted to be able to hear again,” Jessica said. “He can now enjoy music again and the ability to hear the conversations around him.”
Service coordinators, like Jessica, are driven to make everyday, compassionate connections that can have extraordinary results in improving the lives of members, like Lucky.
“Lucky’s new devices will allow him to thrive and be more involved in interacting with others and develop deeper social relationships,” Jessica said. “These are the moments we live for, to see a member’s life enhanced in a big or small way.”