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'New Kid' McIntyre's infant has hearing loss

Joey McIntyre, of New Kids on the Block fame, is all grown up, married and a father of two. His youngest son, Rhys Edward, was born just three months ago - with a hearing problem, People magazine reports.

Rhys failed a routine hearing test after being born Dec. 13 and extensive tests showed he had severe hearing loss. McIntyre, 37, and his wife Barrett, 31, who live in Los Angeles with their sons Rhys, and Griffin Thomas, 2, received the diagnosis two days before Christmas.

"You're just shocked, and your stomach gets in knots," McIntyre said. "It feels like you're holding your breath. And that feeling lasted for a few days, until you get educated. You go from, 'Oh my God' - fearing that someday my son might be walking into the street and I'm calling after him and he's not going to hear me - to 'It's going to be OK' to 'It's going to be amazing.' Rhys' hearing loss is part of who he is. His life is going to be as special as Griffin's. There's just work involved."

There is no known cause for Rhys' hearing problems, and doctors say his condition will not improve with time. But how he processes sounds can be improved, they say.

Rhys was fitted for hearing aids and McIntyre signed him up for speech therapy.

"You put his hearing aids in, and his little eyes just widen," says Rhys' auditory verbal therapist Sylvia Rotfleisch. "He's so tuned in."

"His hearing aids make a huge difference," McIntyre added. "Griffin goes, 'Cool hearing aids, Rhys-y.' "

The McIntyres won't know for another nine months whether Rhys will need cochlear implants, but either way, they're optimistic.

"This is the fabric of life," McIntyre said. "And I can't imagine mine without this, because Rhys is awesome and perfect and great."

McIntyre recently released his fifth solo album, "Here We Go Again," and hits the road with the New Kids in May.


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