A mother’s mission during Deaf Awareness Month

September is Deaf Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about those with hearing loss and promote inclusion. One mother has made it her mission to teach children about hearing loss from a young age.

5 year old Mila loves to dance, ride her bike and even climb rock walls. She is also deaf, and now has cochlear implants to help her hear.

Mila’s story has been adapted into a children’s book called “Mighty Mila”, written by her mom, Katie Petruziello.

Katie says the goal of writing this book was “…to bring awareness to children who may never have met anyone with cochlear implants so they can understand that we are all more alike than different.”

Despite the universal lessons of the book, Katie says when it came out last year, mainstream bookstores turned her down.

“She said, yeah but you can see on the cover that she has cochlear implants. She nicely told me she’s worked in the industry for many years and unfortunately that’s the way of the world.”

Hurt and frustrated, Katie posted on Facebook about the bookstore encounter. This lead White Plains hospital nurse Taryn Priaulx to read the post.

Nures Priaulx even showed her son the book to see what he thought. “Some people wear glasses, some wear braces, and this is what Mila wears to help her hear, and he said, oh that’s cool.”

After contacting Katie, Nurse Priaulx introduced the author to Dr. Brian Nicholas. Dr. Nicholas specializes in cochlear implants and is now giving Mighty Mila to his young patient.

“from a standpoint of raising awareness about hearing loss in children and what hearing loss is like, this does wonders for it, I’m so grateful that Katie has written it.” said Dr. Nicholas.

Since being rejected by the bookstore, Katie has sold more than 5,000 copies.

As for Mila, she just started first grade and a “Mighty Mila” sequel is in the works.

“Mighty Mila, Dream Job”, is set to come out in 2023.