For my daughter Olivia, hearing the laughter of her friends in the playground or my soft voice consoling her after she hurts her knee is something that she takes for granted.
However this may not have been the case. Olivia is just one of more than 2000 children in WA who are affected by a significant hearing loss where such basic sounds can only happen through hearing devices such as a cochlear implant.
Olivia was born profoundly deaf and diagnosed with congenital sensorineural hearing loss when she was only three months old. After many unsuccessful (and frustrating) attempts to use hearing aids, my baby Olivia began her journey towards hearing. She was only 11 months old. She is now 7 and her latest cochlear implant was performed at the Joondalup Health Campus last November. Many of you may know of a cochlear implant as a bionic ear.
A big thanks must go to our surgeon Professor Peter Friedland, the staff at the hospital and her wonderful audiologists for such wonderful and professional care! I must also mention that none of this would have been achieved without the help of the Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA) Gift of Hearing program. The cochlear implant costs $25,000, let alone hospital and specialist fees. We were lucky enough to not have to pay a cent!
Olivia is the first child to receive an implant through the Gift of Hearing program and it’s peace of mind that the Hearing Implant Centre’s life-long care ensures that Olivia remains settled through her early school years, high school and transition to adulthood. They believe in giving kids every opportunity to develop to their full potential.
We are extremely grateful that Olivia has been given the opportunity to receive a second implant and the progress with her listening and her speech and language becomes more evident daily. Without the dedication of the ESIA’s Hearing Implant Centre, Olivia and our family would not be where we are today.
My advice to any parent that suspects their child may be experiencing hearing difficulties is to act on your instinct and seek help. If hearing loss is left undetected your child could be missing out on much of the auditory input around them which could result in delayed speech and language development, social problems and academic difficulties.
Get a hearing test done. They are conducted by experienced audiologists and are free, simple and painless assessments of your child’s hearing.
Here are some signs that may indicate an undetected hearing loss:
- Failure to startle to sudden loud sounds
- Failure to develop typical milestones
- Delayed speech development, or impaired speech, and has limited vocabulary
- Not responding when called
- Shouting or whispering while speaking
- Misunderstands instructions and seems constantly restless
- Being easily distracted and distracting other children in school
- Tendency to increase the volume of the TV and radio
Act on your concerns. That’s my only advice to you. We are so lucky and grateful to have a wonderful little girl and through the Gift of Hearing program we are giving Olivia the best possible opportunity for her to reach her full potential. It will be a lifelong journey with regular follow ups but for now Olivia and our family are as happy as can be.