Salem, NH students don clear masks to help classmate who relies on lip-reading

SALEM, N.H. (WHDH) - Students at a school in Salem, New Hampshire are showing their support for one of their classmates who relies on lip-reading to understand people.

Like many kids, 10-year-old Grady was eager to get back into his classroom at Barron Elementary School after a year of remote learning.

“He’s a very active kid, loves basketball, loves his friends and sports,” his mom Jillian Smith said. “In the past few months psychologically things were getting very tough he just any children this isn’t normal for children to be home under these circumstances.”

Grady was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy in 2018. a rare genetic condition that affects one in 16,000 children.

“He had some trouble with what we thought was hearing but ended being that he wasn’t comprehending language or sound any longer,” Smith said.

So, when the time came for him to go back last Thursday, the family took steps to make sure the fourth-grader is not only safe but can also read lips.

“It’s been a big adjustment for him because unfortunately he no longer comprehends language so it’s hard especially in the mask era,” Smith said.

That is where a see-through mask would come in handy. The family contacted school leaders to see if Grady’s classmates could wear them so he could read their lips.

“After a little while they agreed and we sent out the letters to the parents and everyone was wonderful and extremely supportive of Grady,” said Smith.

The school provided each child with the special masks and is working to get each of them at least two to use throughout the week.

“It’s been better with hearing,” Grady said. “I feel like I’ve been hearing better and it’s been making me feel much more happy and in a better mood.”

The family said they are hoping other communities will be inspired to do the same.

It’s great I think it’s great for all school communities to see because there are many children out there Ike Grady that could really benefit from this,” said Grady’s mom.

Outside of the masks, Grady’s parents also continue to do what they can to raise awareness about ALD and ALD screening in newborns.

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