|Copyright Bryan Adams|
Hearing loss is the number one birth defect in the United States, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics — and Joey McIntyre is lending his time to encourage parents to have their children’s hearing tested early on.
The New Kids on the Block member has taped a public service announcement for Hear the World, a global initiative launched by hearing instrument manufacturer Phonak to raise awareness about the importance of hearing and the consequences of hearing loss.
Son Rhys was born with severe hearing loss in Dec. 2009, and McIntyre soon went public with his family’s journey in an effort to educate about the importance of early diagnosis.
“As a musician, music – and the ability to hear it – is the cornerstone of my life, so when my son was diagnosed with severe hearing loss, I wasn’t sure how to handle it,” explains McIntyre.
“Thankfully, because of today’s advanced hearing aid technology, I don’t have to worry about my son missing a beat. That is why I am honored to join Hear the World in their mission to educate the public about hearing loss and the solutions available to treat it.”
We spoke to McIntyre, 38, about his participation in the campaign — and his baby on the way in May!
Obviously this is a cause close to your heart — can you tell us a little about why you decided to get involved with Hear the World?
Anything I can do for the hearing loss community is a privilege. I hope I can help by telling our story. When you go through something like this, you can feel very helpless and alone, but there is so much out there to get you through it all and lead you to a path that is right for your child.
Last we knew, you and Barrett were working with speech and auditory therapists with Rhys, using hearing aids and seeing a response. You were still up in the air about cochlear implants. What are the latest developments with how you’re choosing to proceed with handling Rhys’ hearing loss?
Right now Rhys is doing great with regular hearing aids. The tests that they have for children his age tell us that he is on par (and in some cases ahead) with kids with normal hearing. It is a process and there’s more to learn, but right now we think he will not need cochlear implants.
Could you fill us in on Griffin, 3, and 15-month-old Rhys’ newest milestones?
Oh my! So many things. Every minute there’s an adventure or a quote or an accident … or a tantrum (working on those). But it is the best thing in the world. Nothing is even close.
You have a busy summer coming up — baby no. 3 is arriving in May and you’re set to tour with NKOTB and the Backstreet Boys. Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl? Will Barrett and the kids be joining you on the road?
We aren’t telling the sex of the baby … not even to PEOPLE.com. :)
Yes, we kid a lot that I’m outta here on a rock n’ roll tour while my wife is home with three kids under 3 years old. But it’s bittersweet for me. I think I’ll be able be there for the birth … HOPEFULLY!!! And I think the two oldest and my wife will be able to come out on the road for a weekend here and there.
– Sarah Michaud