Michelle Tr avis Photogr aphy
Closed Ears, Open Heart
Emma Faye Rudkin’s deafness paves path for the future deaf & hard-of-hearing community by Denise R. Marcos
B OERNE B USINESS M ONTHLY | April 2017
“It was not easy going to school and being different. Although, at first glance you could not see my hearing aids, my speech had a distinctive tone and I didn’t respond as quickly to sounds as others.” Emma said. “I wasn’t a ‘normal’ kid, I felt like I was left out nearly every day of my life. I was faced with extreme loneliness because I couldn’t follow in conversations. So, I just pretended I knew what was happening. I’d come home and cry for hours. Because I, like every girl, I Wayfarer Photography
She was in her own little world—this three-year-old blonde, blue-eyed girl dancing in the corner to the beat of her own drum while the other girls curtsied and swayed to the notes of the music. What her parents thought was a sign of defiance, was actually a sign of a much bigger issue that would shape the rest of their lives. Her parents and Boerne locals, Kathy and Kurt Rudkin, would soon discover that their sweet little girl, Emma Faye, was rapidly losing her hearing. After many tests, they learned Emma could not hear the letters P, H, G, K, F, S, CH, TH, SH—and that as she got older, she may lose the ability to hear much more of the alphabet as her loss progressed. It would be a long, uphill battle. Doctors classified her as profoundly deaf and suggested they enroll Emma in a deaf school and learn sign language. “They told us she would never function at a normal level. That eventually she would go completely deaf and her only way of communicating with the rest of the world would be through sign language,” Kathy said. “For a young, new parent, this was a devastating and heartbreaking diagnosis. We lived in a hearing world and we did not know anyone who was deaf. What were we going to do?” No matter how devastating, the Rudkins chose a different path from what the doctors suggested and worked diligently with professionals to ensure their daughter’s success. With hearing aids, intensive speech therapy, and many hours of one-on-one time, Emma would soon grow up to be one of the brightest in her class.