When Jaspa Dunn went in for the newborn hearing screening at two days old, her parents Alana and Darcy assumed it would be a routine check as it had been with older brother Riley. So when they were told Jaspa had no response in both ears, they experienced shock and disbelief as they had never anticipated such a result.
Alana reflects on those early days, “We had to wait two weeks to see an audiologist and in those few, horrible weeks we banged a few saucepans and slammed some doors to see if she would react. We were really hoping the newborn screening had been wrong.
During that time we were scared of the unknown, we had absolutely no idea what the future would hold for Jaspa. I thought about her future and if she was deaf – how was she going to cope at school and work and relationships and everything that we, as her hearing parents, had experienced. I guess the brain goes in all sorts of directions when you don’t have the right information,” Alana said.
A sense of relief came two weeks later when the audiologist confirmed that Jaspa had moderate to severe hearing loss and provided the Dunn’s with information on the options available.
“This was so helpful as we discovered that there are many paths and services available for children with hearing loss. Hear and Say were among the many piles of brochures we were given and what stood out for us was that their main focus was teaching a child to listen, hear and speak. Wally Lewis endorsing the program after his own family’s experience with Hear and Say was all it took to convince Jaspa’s Dad we were making the right choice.
Hear and Say took away a lot of the fear for us, they gave us confidence in the path we had chosen for Jaspa. It’s great to have options, but it’s hard to tell when your baby is not even a month old that the path you are choosing for their future is going to be the right one,” said Alana.
Jaspa was fitted with hearing aids at 8 weeks old and attended Hear and Say for auditory-verbal therapy on a weekly basis from the age of 12 weeks. Jaspa’s hearing worsened and she had surgery at age 2 for bilateral cochlear implants. She continued weekly auditory-verbal therapy until she graduated from the Early Intervention program at 5 years old. After completing this program she went into Prep at Middle Ridge Primary School.
Alana knows they chose the right path for their daughter, “Jaspa is very outgoing, she is very sociable and she loves people. I often wonder if her personality would be a lot different if she was in the world of silence. The choice we made for Jaspa at such a young age wasn’t an easy one, but we now know that it was absolutely the right one for her and our family.”
Jaspa’s world has been opened to one of many possibilities thanks to Hear and Say. “The opportunities she has had going to mainstream school as well as attending dance lessons where she loves to perform, I often think wow, if she hadn’t received cochlear implants and the years of auditory-verbal therapy she wouldn’t be able to be up there on stage, she wouldn’t be able to hear the music.”
Jaspa loves to play netball and to be a part of team and be able to hear someone calling out her name or the umpire is blowing the whistle, none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Hear and Say. Things that seem so simple but have such a profound impact on not only her life but ours as a family.” Alana says with a smile.
Jaspa’s achievements, and those of other children in the Hear and Say program, are made possible by the generosity of Hear and Say donors who provide children in Toowoomba, and across the Darling Downs, with the opportunity to hear, listen and speak.