For Rockhampton parents Renee and Jacob, finding out their baby girl had been born with hearing loss six years ago came as a complete shock.
“Evie’s diagnosis came after her newborn screen at the hospital, and it was a huge surprise as no one in our families had ever had hearing loss,” said Renee.
“We didn’t know what we were meant to do, and it was pretty scary particularly as we were first-time parents.”
Evie was just nine weeks old when she was fitted with her first pair of hearing aids – “hot pink”, as Renee fondly recalled. Determined to help their daughter learn to hear and speak, the family turned to renowned Queensland organisation, Hear and Say and haven’t turned back.
“Because we live regionally, we received weekly specialised speech therapy via telepractice from Hear and Say until Evie was around four years of age, which then went to fortnightly sessions,” said Renee.
“It’s support we absolutely couldn’t do without. We had no idea what to do for a child with hearing loss, and Hear and Say has guided us every step of the way. Evie’s speech therapists have been professional, kind and they care about her holistic development. She is keeping up with her peers in terms of listening and speaking, and Hear and Say has shown us that children born deaf are able to access sound and live a full and happy life – the work they do is unmatchable.”
This year has seen QCoal Foundation and Hear and Say join forces in an exciting new partnership to support regional and remote students like Evie to thrive.
Under a recently-launched service known as the Hear and Say RETAIN (REgional TArgeted INtervention) program, the two organisations are working together to help ensure that school-age children with hearing loss aren’t left behind and can go on to reach their goals – regardless of where they live.
“Hearing loss can also have significant consequences for children’s development, impacting learning as well as social and emotional wellbeing. That’s why ongoing monitoring and specialised support throughout children’s school years is critical, to ensure they maintain the outcomes achieved through early intervention,” said Hear and Say CEO, Chris McCarthy.
“This is especially true for those living in regional, rural and remote Queensland communities, where specialist support in schools and other education settings can be much scarcer than in major cities.”
For further information about specialised support for school-age students, please contact us here or call 07 3850 2111.