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Watch Joey McIntyre’s Hear the World PSA

03/16/2011 at 03:00 PM ET
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

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Showing 32 comments

TV on

I love Joey even more especially after meeting him earlier this month during a St. Baldrick’s event held in Las Vegas. It’s nice to see someone I grew up listening to dedicate their time to helping out important child causes.

sadie on

Love me some JoeyJoe! Blessings to him & his family. What a wonderful man.

Beth on

Such a great PSA! Love hearing about all the great things these guys are doing in the community!

AM on

This cause is so personal for me! I was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at 3 years old (only in one ear) and had gone all that time without being able to fully enjoy the world! Unfortunately for me, hearing aides weren’t what they are now and I didn’t hear out of my ear until I was 11 (more of a sense of direction hearing aide) and when I was 22 I got a phonak and heard actual speech in that ear for the first time :) I love that he is bringing attention to hearing loss, I hope he gets involved in the Deaf community as well because they are beautiful wonderful people with unbreakable spirits that can offer even more advice for his son!!

Stef on

Deafness is not a defect! I hate that they put it that way. It is genetics most of the time and deaf people live perfectly normal and great lives. I am glad they didn’t jump straight to cochlear implants. But in the same sense signing is such a great thing for kids to learn and I wish they would have done that. But like he said doing what he see as is best for his child.

Jeannette on

I’ve been a fan of Joe’s for over half of my life. I am also a speech pathologist. I admire him all the more for educating the public and sharing his story. He will be helping so many people. The message in this PSA is so important. Thank you to Joe and Hear the World.
With love, Jeannette

Jen B on

When my children were born, it was standard procedure to have their hearing tested. Actually, my youngest didn’t end up having her hearing checked in the hospital and they (Health Unit) scheduled her for an appointment immediately! No foolin’ around!

Joe, you are so fabulous. My heart has grown more and more fond of you over the years and its so great to see all the things you are passionate about in your live–your music, the other “guys” you make music with and most of all, your family!

Keep up the great work!

Barrett—congrats and good luck!

tammey on

i lost of my hearing when i was born , but when i got older i have tubes in my ears . but i can hear great but i still talk loud :0) great job joey tammey

Jill on

Blessings to Joe and his family, and to all the people dealing with hearing loss.

Monica on

That’s interesting to me because a hearing test was one of the first tests they did on my kids when they were born. Maybe it’s just standard procedure in Florida but it was a simple test done right in the hospital and one less thing for us to have to worry about later. Maybe it’s a state thing or a hospital thing but seems easy enough to institute nation wide.

Sarah K. on

Stef, deafness won’t ruin Rhys’ life, but it is a “defect”. Humans should be able to hear and when they can’t, something is wrong. Obviously, that doesn’t mean Rhys (and other people with hearing loss) won’t live a full, happy, amazing life. But, calling hearing loss a defect really isn’t inaccurate or even taboo.

meme on

I am hearing impaired.I was diagnosed with hearing loss at four years of age. I have had numerou hearing aids over the years, as well as other procedures done to try to help with my hearing loss. Let me tell you, the advancement in hearing aids is amazing. I just recently purchased a new set, and can’t beleive how well I can hear with them even compared to my previous set. Technology is certainly advancing.

The hospital where I delivered my children does a standard hearing test on children at birth, but it is very basic. Once they realized I had a hearing problem, they did not even test my second child, they right away referred her for more advanced testing. So I am not sure if that means there tests are not too accurate, or what.

Both my childrens hearing is fine, thank goodness.

Carol Sylvia on

JP only produces the best!

FLH on

Steff,

In the first article, Joe did say that he and Barrett are learning sign language and teaching it to Griffin and as he’s growing, Rhys. They explored ALL options with Rhys. It is their choice if they want to enable their child an opportunity to hear. Humans were meant to be able to see, hear, speak, taste, walk, etc. For everything else that can go wrong in development, if modern medicine can cure it, WHY deny a child the opportunity to be able to do something most everyone else can? If Rhys was born completely deaf and there was nothing anyone could do, I’m sure Joe and Barrett would choose alternative ways to make their son’s life as easy as possible, but he’s not completely deaf. If the hearing aides help him, GREAT. I’m very happy for the whole family, and I’m guessing their little one to be is a GIRL and that is why they are keeping this one under wraps!

Oh, and Joe, (I know you’re not reading this but!) You BETTER be there for the birth and for your wife or all your female fans will (at least those of us who are mom’s) reserve the right to slap you! :) Hahahaha…

Jen on

I think that what he is passing on is important information. But the number one birth defect in our country are Congenital Heart Defects. My son and thousands of other babies are born with CHD’s every year. Awareness of all kinds is great, but the facts need to be correct.

celian1309 on

While it’s great to see a celebrity speaking out for a charity, I see this PSA as a parent speaking out for their child. My son has significant speech and language delays and I was thrilled to be in Boston where medical technology gave us the ability to find out that (thankfully) his hearing is fine and that his delays are due to other issues. I agree with Joey McIntyre 100%, get your child’s hearing tested.

Laura on

I am hearing impaired and have been my whole life. I am sad to say that unless you have thousands of dollars to spend on the high-tech hearing instruments you are pretty much out of luck. Insurance will only cover a minute fraction of the cost of the expensive hearing aids because they don’t deem them a “medical necessity”. I wish there was an organization or something out there to help everyone, not just children, be able to have good hearing aids that are literally life changing.

Pedi Aud on

I am a pediatric audiologist and I work with families like this every day, each with their own strengths and their own challenges. Newborn hearing screening is mandated in 48 states, so most babies should have their hearing screened at birth. It’s important to remember that it’s only a screening, though, and if your baby is at risk for hearing loss it’s necessary to have them monitored by a pediatric audiologist. Hearing loss is a neurodevelopmental emergency—the sooner we act, the more likely we are to successful outcomes, regardless of culture, language, or mode of communication. Check out http://www.babyhearing.org for more information.

Jennifer on

As a mother with a severe hearing loss in both ears from birth, I’m actually very appalled that this is being called a “defect”. A hearing loss is a disability that most children are born with as a result of genetics or something that has happened due to a severe illness (meningitis, german measels or scarlett fever) to name a few. I was lucky enough that I was fitted with hearing aids at the age of 2 and a bit and my mother g-d bless her, worked with me day in and day out so that I could speak like a normal child and pay attention to the sounds around me.

I have an almost three year old boy who has continuous middle ear infections and so far has had one round of p.e tubes in both ears. His hearing loss was temporary due to the fluid in his ears. So this by NO means makes him “defective”. Call the hearing losses for what they are! Disabilities brought on by either genetics or illness. Lets not make it the parents fault by calling it something like defective.

Clare on

barf. big time barf.

I’m all for hearing aids and whatever but to deny signing?

BARF. YOU SUCK!

MiB on

Where on earth does it say they are denying him signing? I too remember the first article where they spoke about learning sign language. But to be honest, if he can hear well with hearing aids, it does make sense to focus on his speech. I am sure they are working with his speech and auditory therapist to do what is best for Rhys. I am all for sign language, but I have also seen how it sometimes doesn’t work. My cousin has a severe speech delay and the whole family started to learn sign language on recommendation by his speech therapist, but it wasn’t working so well for him and it made him frustrated not to be able to communicate with people outside the family (there is nothing wrong with his hearing, but people would start speaking louder to him, writing notes etc.) so they focused on his speech instead because that is what worked for him.

KEONA M. on

I READING THEM I LOVE IT TRUE JOE MAC’S STORY ABOUT THE FAMILY ARE GREAT. ARE BESTEST WAY TOO. I LIKE IT.:D

megan on

It is technically a defect, whether it’s due to genetics, other causes, or for an unknown reason. A defect does not necessarily put blame on the parents at all whatsoever. And just because someone has a defect does not mean that they can not lead full healthy lives. The word defect is not a negative, judgemental, stereotypical term! It means what it means, something at birth or even through developing does not work properly or normally. An ear is meant to hear, when it does not act properly, or how the normal anatomy of an ear should work it is a defect. So many things are considered a defect, and it is in no way a offensive term and people shouldn’t take offense to it! words are what we make me them, and we shouldn’t make them what they are not meant to be.

Birth defect: Any defect present in a baby at birth, irrespective of whether the defect is caused by a genetic factor or by prenatal events that are not genetic.

Birth defects may involve many different organs including the brain, heart, lungs, liver, bones, and intestinal tract. These defects can occur for many reasons including inherited (genetic) conditions, toxic exposure of the fetus (for example, to alcohol), birth injury and, in many cases, for unknown reasons. All parents are at risk of having a baby with a birth defect, regardless of age, race, income or residence.

A birth defect is also called a congenital malformation or a congenital anomaly.

Anomaly: A deviation from the usual, something different, peculiar, or abnormal.

A congenital anomaly is something that is unusual and different at birth. A minor anomaly in this context is defined as an unusual anatomic feature that is of no serious medical or cosmetic consequence to the patient. A minor anomaly of the feet might, for example, be curvature of the second toe so it overlaps the third toe a little. By contrast, a major anomaly might be a cleft lip and palate, a birth defect of serious medical and cosmetic consequence to the patient.

Giovanna on

I’m studying to become a Speech Therapist/ Audiologist in Brazil and I work at the local maternity hospital doing hearing screening at newborns. We first do an interview with the parents to get the whole family history and to check for any problems during the gestational period or during labour. If the newborn has any pre-requisits that may indicate a possible hearing problem, like relatives with hearing loss, for example, they are sent straight to the clinic to have more accurate exams, like BERA (Brainstem Evoked Response). If the newborn doesn’t fulfill any of the requirements, we perform a pass or fail test, there and then at the maternity hospital. If it’s a pass we brief the parents about hearing and speech developments, if it’s a fail we send the newborn to the clinic for more tests.
I hope I’ve answered Meme’s post from March 17th, 2011.

megan on

Defect is not a negative or offensive word, it is what it is, don’t make it something that it’s not! Many things are medically considered a defect and hearing loss is one of them. If you have any sort of defect it does not mean it will negatively effect your life, it doesn’t mean you can lead a full and happy life, it just means that something isn’t working properly, how it is anatomically suppose to work, a defect can be caused by genetics, or may not have a cause at all(unknown), anyone can have a child with a defect. Obviously sometimes they are caused by the parent, consuming drugs or alcohol, ect, but most of the time they aren’t. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished, but don’t take offense to the word defect, it is not a negative word!

jASEN BARRINGR on

Joe Mac ur son loss hearing more than if u learn sign laungage more your son use hearing aids no matter what you love son

Rose on

http://celebritybabies.people.com/2010/03/26/joey-mcintyre-introduces-son-rhys-edward-and-opens-up-about-his-severe-hearing-loss/#comment-309361

This is the first article but NO WHERE it mentioned them learning to sign? Show me where it said that?Although, I do see that one person commented in the comment field that they are but we don’t know if the person is creditable.

I guess, only time will tell when Rhys grows up, we will know when he choose who he wants to be… And if he’ll continue wearing hearing aids.

Letty on

I personally think that sign language and speech should not be omit at all. I think both will help Rhys. I am deaf and I did not know how to sign until I was 14 yrs old and I spent so much time practicing my speech and I have NO regrets but I regrets I didn’t learn sign language or play with deaf children. I was left out by hearing children and being made fun of. Its pretty common for deaf children to go through these kind of stages. After learning sign language and starting to mingle with deaf people, I admit I envy for those deaf people who were raised in the deaf community and I just wish that my parents would encourage me to be around with deaf people….but they just felt the best for me to be in hearing mainstream classes. Not that I am mad about that.. I appreciate my speech and my education. I just wish my social interaction was great. I hope Joey will also focus on Rhys’s social interaction. My social interaction was pretty lacking. So thats my opinion about speech and sign language AND deaf community. They are very important to deaf people.

Margaret A-T on

I do not agree with you about force Rhys to learn to speech therapist or some kind. Why his parent focus on Rhys to speech improved will not working for Rhys. Encourage him to learn Sign Language and go to Gallaudet University or NTID .. Deaf people have a job and career with that kind of huge difficult time as rejected by company.

http://www.seekgeo.com/?p=6371#comments Read this comment which uneducated people who fun of deaf child or any kind of handicapped. it is not the reason why YIKES. His parents are uneducated! it is not friendly if you force Rhys to learn speech and reject of your idea about sign language. his speech would not working!

http://www.gallaudet.edu/ and http://www.ntid.rit.edu/

His father is show off and bragged about his deaf son. If I would be like him. I will teach my children to lean ASL, American Sign Language.

FLH on

Rose,

Those of us who are fans have followed this story, and there has been more than ONE article/story about his son, and its been stated they looked at ALL options for Rhys, including signing. No where in this article does he state they AREN’T teaching Rhys to sign, or they aren’t learning it themselves, and he also doesn’t state he’s against that ANYWHERE. He’s only stating that they are doing what is best for THEIR son, in other words, the methods they have explored are currently WORKING for Rhys. That is GOOD news.

Margaret – your comment is disgusting. He is not “showing off, or bragging” about his son. He is bringing awareness to an issue and he does it because its something that has affected him personally. How many people out there become part of a cause after being personally affected by it? You’re a joke, and a sad human being to make such a comment. It’s not the only cause he has started, or promoted. He also created a group to promote READING for children, a free book program called Let’s Get This: http://letsgetthis.org/ Can you find something NEGATIVE to say about that too? Oh, and as New Kids on the Block dedicated a lot of time and money to Cerebral Palsy too, I guess they did it to just “show off.”

Comments like yours make me sick. I love how people with obvious reading comprehension problems jumped on how he’s “not teaching Rhys to sign.” WHERE in this article does it state that they are NOT? That’s right, it doesn’t. So all you are doing is making ASSUMPTIONS…and you know what they say about that. When the first article came out, Rhys was a BABY and not even old enough yet to learn how to sign, and everyone was spazzing out about it then!

I think what he’s doing is wonderful, and regardless of what he and his wife choose to do for THEIR son, its THEIR business and there are options out there and they are fortunate enough to be able to try all of them! Isn’t that what we ALL want as parents, to do the very best we can for our kids? So he is, and you’re going to slam him for it with your assumptions? Get over yourself Margaret…

FLH on

Reading these comments again, it blows my mind how many people are attacking Joe and stating “He should teach Rhys to sign!” Again, someone please point to me in this article or any OTHER article where Joe states, “We aren’t teaching Rhys to sign,” or “we are against signing.” I mean, some of the negativity on here is appalling! He’s doing something GOOD here and you need to take this, and twist it into something its not so you can get on your soapbox and act all high and mighty? Please! In case reading comprehension is not your strong suit, you should know that Rhys is NOT deaf. He is hearing impaired and with the hearing aides, he can hear almost normally, so yes, it DOES make sense to work on his speech like everything else and work with him to keep him on par with other kids his age. I think its absolutely fantastic that he’s on par, and even ahead some kids in his age group. Please keep in mind, Rhys is barely over a year old… its a little preterm to start talking about what he will or won’t regret as he grows up. Really, the commentary is ludicrous and frankly, a bit pathetic. He’s still a BABY folks. Sheesh.

It appears to me Joe and his wife are doing what they think is best for Rhys given all the research they have done and it sounds like they have a great team supporting them. If Joe’s voice raises awareness on this topic, GREAT. For those of you who just can’t read anything good without attacking it or getting on a soapbox about it, may I suggest therapy? Because obviously hearing impairments aren’t your only issue.

Jennifer A.Tyler on

Hey Joe Mac , You have to be love with your son very important than hearing loss . No one perfect who are deaf and I am deaf mother of all five kids that they are hearings . You need to know how love your son and learn some sign languages . All deaf and hearing of hard people who supports deaf and hearing of hard . It is no one perfect . It is very important love your son . Keep smile !!!

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