Mateo might be less than one year old, but he is already a social butterfly, loving being around people, giving anyone who walks by a big smile and a wave. Mateo’s days are filled with his favourite activities - playing in water, with bubbles and his animal toys, crawling anywhere and everywhere, and reading books.
When this bright and bubbly boy was just two weeks old his parents, Lauren and Francisco, found out their precious little baby had profound hearing loss.
“A million thoughts ran through my head, and it was a couple of very emotional days, followed by a couple of months of trying to get our heads around his diagnosis. In a way, we had to mourn the life journey we thought he was going to have,” said Lauren.
As a busy mum of four, Lauren wasn’t sure how she was going to manage all of the appointments along with everything else in her life. She also knew little about cochlear implants and the incredible outcomes made possible by modern hearing technology.
“Unfortunately, the only adults I knew who were deaf or hard of hearing, grew up in a totally different generation when technology wasn’t so advanced in the hearing loss area,” said Lauren.
During this whirlwind time, the family also moved from Canberra to Brisbane, and upon arriving Lauren and Francisco explored the options available for Mateo, meeting with multiple providers before deciding to come to Hear and Say.
“The choice was simple, we needed to go to Hear and Say to ensure Mateo learnt the skills to hear and speak the best he can,” said Lauren.
“Everyone I associate with is hearing, my whole family is hearing. Spoken language is our family’s first language and knowing there was technology and therapy available to get Mateo to learn to hear and speak, how could I not do it? I knew being able to hear would open up opportunities in his future.”
Mateo started wearing hearing aids from eight weeks old, and since then his family have found out he is eligible for cochlear implants, which will be an exciting next step in their journey.
Even before receiving his cochlear implant, his family jumped straight into specialised speech therapy lessons.
“I liked starting therapy straight away, even with Mateo being so young, because it gave me time to practice, allowing me to be the most effective when it really starts to matter, when he gets his implants,” said Lauren.
“It might seem like play to others, but our Listening and Spoken Language Specialist has so kindly taught me how to implement therapy at home in a fun way with Mateo. I have been equipped with skills to ensure Mateo is learning language, hearing all frequencies, vocalising, and meeting his developmental milestones.”
“Mateo’s siblings have even gotten involved in the daily therapy and will read books, sing him songs, and play repetitive speech games.”
Reflecting on their experience at Hear and Say, Lauren says she feels supported in multiple ways.
“Having a one-stop-shop for audiology and speech therapy has been great. Everyone is in constant communication with each other, and I feel like we have a consistent village behind us and supporting us.”
“They have connected us with parents going through exactly the same thing and having that personal support is priceless on this hearing loss journey.”
Feeling supported right now makes a huge difference but it’s when Lauren and Francisco look to the future that they know they have made the right choice.
“The biggest support we received was meeting young adults who have been through the Hear and Say program and are now reaching their goals. Hearing them articulate and speak to us was mind-blowing. Seeing the “end product” of all the hard work helped my husband and I realise it will all be ok,” said Lauren.
“We are now excited to see where Mateo will go in life, and we are grateful Hear and Say are a big part of our journey.”