Matthew and Jack’s Story
Hear and Say as a major part of our lives for the last 18 years. I am a Mum to 3 sons with both my eldest and youngest having cochlear implants.
Matthew is now 20 and was diagnosed at 2 and received his implant at age 3 whilst Jack now 12 was fortunate to have been one of the first in Townsville to have been part of the then new infant screening program and was diagnosed at only 10 days old and implanted by 8 ½ months.
Having had both boys receive cochlear implants and then follow on with auditory verbal therapy at two very different times of their lives I have been given a first hand look at the significant difference early intervention makes.
The ability to have children diagnosed as infants is so beneficial to the child as well as us as parents. In our case with Jack having been diagnosed early it gave him every opportunity to be on par with hearing children of the same age but with Matthew having been language delayed by 2 years our journey was indeed so much harder and the emotional roller coaster ride seemed on so many occasions to be never ending.
I’m not saying an early diagnosis is any less heartbreaking and devastating it goes without saying that those feelings are always going to be there regardless of the age at diagnosis, and regardless of wether it be your first or last child.
As a parent, when you hear those words “hearing loss“ the bottom drops out of your world, your heart stops beating for those few seconds, and your head spins so much that all else becomes irrelevant.
As there was no infant screening back then, Matthews diagnosis had been less than normal by far. Both my husband Tim and myself had our suspicions that something was not quite right with our beautiful son, I had expressed my concerns to my then clinic nurse who sternly told me that I was an over bearing mother who needed to find a hobby and stress less about “finding” things wrong with my son.
This continued on for months and as time went by our concerns grew, we knew we just needed to find someone to believe us and then by chance after the birth of our second son Luke our paediatrician actually listened to us! And then the ball got rolling.
We were in total despair as to how we could help our son and after many months of searching and constant heartbreaks and very little positivity as to what Matthew’s future held, we were finally advised to look into Hear and Say.
We did and there was no looking back, we found our saviours!
At the time Hear and Say was Brisbane based, however considering that by this stage we had considered overseas as our only option to now find out we might have found something in our own State was music to our ears.
So two weeks later we were at the Hear and Say in Brisbane, which back then was what we fondly remember as the ‘Mouse House,’ a tiny two room office.
I still remember today the overwhelming feeling of relief the first day I walked into the Hear and Say centre, I knew we had found what we had been searching for, I knew this place these people they were going to Fix Us! I felt this amazing sense of belonging and for the first time in an awfully long time I saw our future and I knew that we were going to be OK.
Being Brisbane based it did mean I had to fly to Brisbane every 2 weeks for 3 days over a 4 year period for Matthew’s auditory verbal therapy needs. This put major emotional and financial pressures on us as a young family, and yes the easy option would have been to move south, but Townsville was our home, where we grew up and where we wanted our family to be.
So we took the challenge on and although we had many believing we were mad for taking on such a huge task and putting ourselves and our young family under such huge pressure we know this was right, we knew the Hear and Say was our place!
Every fortnight I would return home so full of hope and so proud to show everyone what Matthew and I had learnt. Hear and Say not only teaches our children they are teaching us, I was becoming a novice speech therapist.
Our fortnightly visits to Brisbane for audiology and speech therapy would see me come home with our homework and targets to be achieved before our next fortnightly visit and when you are doing this daily over a period of four or so years it becomes second nature.
When Jack was diagnosed many had said that it would be easier this time as I had already done it once before but let me tell you as I mentioned earlier it was no less heartbreaking second time round in fact there was a lot more guilt issues this time but I knew exactly where I had to go and once again within days we were back in the hands of the Hear and Say.
I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to use advancements in technology and we conducted a lot of our lessons via Skype. We then had Hear and Say coming to us on a regular basis too, meaning a lot less travelling for us and with 3 boys. Now this was a true blessing.
Then for us we hit the jackpot when Hear and Say set up locally in Townsville.
I guess that’s why I am so passionate about having them right here in Townsville, even now after every visit I still leave with a great sense of relief that the newly diagnosed children with hearing loss and their families have a place like Hear and Say here to support them because I know how hard it was without them and I still, on a daily basis, look at my boys with an overwhelming sense of pride and feel so truly blessed to have been lucky enough to have been a part of such a wonderful organisation.
Thank you Hear and Say.
- Bec, Matthew and Jack’s mum
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.