Babies born deaf can’t wait – for every day without sound limits their hearing potential. However, with the help of highly specialised early interventions and technology such as cochlear implants or hearing aids, children born deaf can learn to listen and speak just like their siblings and peers without hearing loss.
Queensland not-for-profit Hear and Say is one of the leading organisations in Australia recognising the vital role that early interventions play to ensure babies born deaf or hard of hearing are not left behind in their critical development stages. Hear and Say CEO, Chris McCarthy said the organisation’s aim was to support all children to hear, listen and speak to reach their full potential.
“Hear and Say uses state-of-the-art hearing technology and specialised listening and spoken language therapy to enable children to thrive, both in their early years and well into the future,” Mr McCarthy said.
“Our team of passionate specialists is committed to creating better futures for children with hearing loss and work to provide specialised therapy, support and technology to help these children reach this milestone.”
Of the children who have transitioned from Hear and Say’s early intervention program, over 90 per cent have entered mainstream schools and are hearing and speaking at the same rate of their typical hearing peers. Mr McCarthy added: “We know from almost 30 years’ experience that early diagnosis and intervention is critical, and failure to detect hearing loss can lead to behavioural issues, poor academic performance, and social and emotional challenges for children.”
Queensland 1-year-old Abby O’Brien is one of the one in six Australians impacted by hearing loss, born with hearing loss in both ears. She is also an example of what is possible for children born deaf or hard of hearing with early intervention and technology.
Her parents Yulia and Joel were initially rocked by her diagnosis, their worries heightened by the impact of coronavirus and the added pressure of living away from family – that was until they found Hear and Say.
“I was trying not to cry when we found out, but we got to the car after the appointment and all my emotions came through. It was a really hard time – the labour, being in the middle of coronavirus, and none of my family there to support us. It felt like too much,” said Mrs O’Brien.
Abby’s dad, Joel explained: “There were a million steps, and it was hard to keep track of all the people, the appointments and trying to figure out what exactly her diagnosis was. We didn’t know what half these things were for. Thankfully, we found our way to Hear and Say and haven’t turned back.”
“Our daughter was provided with urgent audiology support and hearing aids and she is now on track to develop speech and language at the same rate as her peers – she is also bilingual and is learning both Russian and English. The support of Hear and Say has been miraculous in ensuring she won’t be left behind,” he said.
Yuliya and Joel are joining forces with the not-for-profit ahead of the charity’s Triple Impact Day on Thursday 27 May – calling on the community for donations to help Hear and Say continue to deliver life-changing support and early interventions for Queenslanders born deaf or hard of hearing like Abby.
Hear and Say’s Triple Impact Day is a 24-hour online fundraising event dedicated to raising vital funds to help give children born deaf or hard of hearing the gift of sound – with all donations tripled in the lead-up to and on the day, because babies born deaf can’t wait.
Mr McCarthy says Hear and Say encourages the community to band together on Triple Impact Day to give babies born deaf timely and effective support to ensure these children can live their life to its full potential.
“Every day without sound can hinder a child’s potential, especially in their early years when the brain is rapidly developing, so we’re encouraging the community to dig deep and contribute to a cause that will profoundly impact the lives of babies born deaf – now and in the future,” said Mr McCarthy.
Hear and Say aims to raise $200,000 this Giving Day, which can only be achieved through the community’s generosity. To donate to Hear and Say this Triple Impact Day on Thursday 27 May, head to www.hearandsay.com.au/tripleimpact.