Townsville twins Marley and Sienna share a love of swimming and gaming. Now 10-years-old and attending their local school, both girls have great aspirations for their futures.
Marley wants to be a veterinarian and Sienna has her eye on both an interior designer and acting.
The sisters both have hearing loss caused by Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome – a condition which affects the formation of the inner ear.
In June 2022, Marley and Sienna shared the experience of having a cochlear implant turned on for the first time. While they both now wear these hearing devices, their journeys with hearing loss have looked different up until this point.
“Sienna was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss at birth which was picked up via the newborn screening test done at the hospital,” said Hayley, the twins’ mum.
“She was initially fitted with hearing aids however her hearing gradually deteriorated over the years,” she said.
“In June 2020, Sienna received her first cochlear implant in her left ear. She was so excited for her switch on, I remember her saying she couldn’t wait to be able to hear what the other kids hear.
“It was honestly a surreal moment, from Sienna growing up with hearing loss, and then for her natural hearing to slowly deteriorate as she got older to reaching the point of a cochlear.
“I remember feeling sad we had reached this point but also so happy that she’d have the opportunity to be able to hear.
“Whilst it was an uphill battle getting Sienna used to wearing her cochlear at first, with moments of her refusing as she was struggling to get used to ‘the beeps’ and that was hard.
“This was especially heightened since she received her first implant during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown and remote learning from home.
“Looking back now, it was the best decision for Sienna and the progress she made from her first implant to now is nothing short of amazing. She has put in all of the hard work and it’s paid off for her.”
“Marley was diagnosed at nine years old with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in her left ear and a moderate rising to normal hearing loss in her right ear.
“In fact, Marley’s testing on her left ear was inconclusive for a period of time. She completed two Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing sessions to diagnose her hearing loss in her left ear.
The double switch on
“Recently, Sienna received her second cochlear (in her right ear) and Marley was fitted with her first cochlear implant on her left ear and she wears a hearing aid on her right.”
With no family history of hearing loss Hayley was saddened when Sienna was born with hearing loss, and when they found out about Marley’s diagnosis later on.
“We moved to Townsville from Melbourne in January 2021 and we started Sienna in speech therapy at Hear and Say,” said Hayley.
“The support we have received from Hear and Say has been phenomenal – Marley and Sienna have received the best treatment, and they’ve helped us as a family navigate our way through the hearing loss world,” she said.
“We’ve learnt a lot and received helpful guidance. The entire journey with Hear and Say has been nothing but positive.”
Hayley looked ahead to the future, watching her twin girls grow up happy and with a life full of opportunity.
“I hope their futures are bright and happy. I want them to be able to have careers that they enjoy and that they are successful in whatever adventures they get into,” said Hayley.
“I hope they get to experience travelling to other countries and immerse themselves in different cultures and be able to spread awareness for hearing loss.”