At 31 weeks pregnant, Tash was told her unborn baby was ‘growth restricted’ meaning he was not growing at a normal rate inside the womb. This posed a number of risks so she had an emergency c-section and her beautiful baby boy Winten was born weighing in at just 1.3kg. Winten spent the first 111 days of his life in hospital as among a number of health issues, his little lungs needed assistance with receiving oxygen.
After four months in hospital, Winten’s parents were keen to get him home. Two days before they were to leave, Winten had the newborn hearing screening. “We just assumed it would be a quick test and we could go home. But when we were told he didn’t pass we just assumed it was related to other areas of his health impacting the test.” Winten was tested for a second time and again, he didn’t pass.
Despite the two test results, Tash thought Winten’s hearing was fine. “When he was really little, he’d be in his neo-natal crib and we thought he could hear us walking in to the room because he would start wriggling like a wiggly worm. We just assumed he was responding to our voices, we never thought he couldn’t hear us.”
The penny dropped for Winten’s parents a few weeks after they had taken him home. “There was a huge thunderstorm right over our house, shaking the house, lightening was cracking right overhead and Winten was asleep and didn’t even react. My nephew who is six weeks younger than Winten was also there and he was definitely reacting to the storm. We were just trying to stay positive but in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think something was wrong.”
When they started testing his hearing again, Winten’s parents were told he had profound hearing loss. “When we got the results we were shocked. I remember thinking this was just another thing our beautiful baby boy, who already had health issues, was going to have to deal with. I was worried that being deaf was going to isolate him from the world.”
Tash was first introduced to Hear and Say when Winten began occupational therapy and physio. “We had heard such good things and I’d done my research on the programs Hear and Say offered. We were really impressed with Hear and Say using the latest technology and techniques and that their aim was to use spoken language. We love what Hear and Say stand for and this is what we want for our son; using hearing technology so he can have the best opportunities in life.”
Having speech, occupational therapy, physio and audiology all in the one place has made it easier for Winten who understandably doesn’t like hospitals. “Hear and Say create an environment that is fun, the lessons are always enjoyable and Winten associates our appointments with play. He has to develop a lot of strength before he can walk or even hold his head up, life would have been isolating for him if he couldn’t hear.
This Christmas, Winten will have had access to sound for two months. He will be able to hear his parents cooking Christmas dinner with carols playing in the background. Winten loves being sung to and his Cochlear Implant switch-on will enable him to have that next level of engagement with his parents, grandparents and the world around him.
Thank you for the support, it gives kids like Winten the opportunity to be a part of the world and live their life to the fullest – to be no different to anybody else. And the support Hear and Say gives parents really helps. We are really thankful for everyone at Hear and Say and that a service like this is available to anyone who needs it.”