Helping children to reach their full potential.

From the desk of… Katie Smith

Next in our ‘From the desk of…’ series we take a look at the desk of Listening and Spoken Language Specialist, Katie Smith.

Along with her normal listening and spoken language lessons, Katie also runs our regular LEAP Group Social Skills program. This year hasn’t been without its challenges for all of our group programs, however Katie has taken it in her stride to shift LEAP onto telepractice throughout the coronavirus pandemic – as have our wonderful families!

Check out Katie’s desk when she’s working in-centre with families in Brisbane, and find out more about what a day in the life of a listening and spoken language specialist looks like.

1.Group Social Skills Programs

Brisbane’s weekly LEAP during Term Three was held via telepractice and included lots of arts and craft. These fun activities focus on developing a specific skill or language area, such as sequencing language – first, second, next and last.

“We have also enjoyed activities working on fine motor skills development, such as cutting and folding paper. During our ‘Insects and bugs’ theme, we had fun making a caterpillar and butterfly,” said Katie.

LEAP is for children with hearing loss aged two to five years old, preparing them to ultimately start school with speech and language skills on par with their peers. Hear and Say offers Group Social Skills programs for children and young adults with hearing loss of all ages; find out more here.

2.Professional Development

Katie is one of the 15 certified listening and spoken language specialists at Hear and Say, a qualification involving over 900 hours of professional experience, 80 hours of professional development, 20 hours of mentored sessions and a gruelling exam.

Our listening and spoken language specialists often complete professional development through the AG Bell Academy or attend Hear and Say’s own Worldwide Training and Education program courses. Check out upcoming training events and webinars, here.

3.Rings for Ling Sounds

Comprised of six sounds (ar, oo, ee, m, sh and s), the Ling Sounds help identify what sounds a child can hear. In Australia, we often use a seventh sound, or. The Ling Sounds are checked each time a family comes in for a listening and spoken language lesson, and every day at home.

Toys like rings are used when going through the Ling Sounds. Once a child has responded to the sound, Katie will help them to stack a ring. This helps to make the Ling Sound test fun, as well as teaching a child to respond to sound.

“If a child is not responding to a sound, it gives us information about the types of sounds that they might be missing, and allows us to follow up with the child’s audiologist very quickly to make sure they are getting optimal access to all sounds across the speech spectrum,” said Katie.

4.Cochlear Implant Aqua Accessory  

At Hear and Say we work to support all our clients to live their lives to the fullest and not be limited by their hearing loss – whether that’s trialling a new technology to help a baby to avoid pulling their device off; providing a child with an Aqua Accessory for their cochlear implant so they can hear their swimming coach; or specially programming an adult client’s hearing aid to better enable them to hear their fellow cyclists on the road. We love getting to know our clients, and our team is passionate about seeing every individual achieve best possible outcomes across all areas of life.

5.Disinfectant wipes

The number of objects a child can touch or put in their mouth may at times feel countless, but during a global pandemic this can be very stressful for any parent. At Hear and Say we continue to follow our COVID Safe Plan and closely monitor all updates to government advice. All our listening and spoken language specialists are now very well versed in the routine of sanitising their room and toys after each in-person lesson.


Maia’s Story

At 9.10pm on 24 October 2013 our beautiful daughter Maia was born. 

The moment of elation was short-lived as we immediately noticed her left ear was missing. I frantically looked to the medical team around me for answers but received none.

Panic set in as we waited 4 days in hospital for an ENT to explain her condition, by which point we already had all the answers from Simone, who runs the Microtia and Atresia Program at Hear and Say.

Read More


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