Fourteen-year-old Vivek most definitely fits the bill of an allrounder, he loves all kinds of sport, from cricket to soccer and even volleyball; he also enjoys music, playing the piano and signing in the choir at school. Additionally, in an almost unheard-of turn-of-events for a teenage boy, Vivek likes everything to be neat and in order, including his desk and room… no complaints from his parents here!  

Img Vivek With Australian Cricketer Marnus Labuschagne

When Vivek was one year old and living with his family in India, he was diagnosed with profound hearing loss. As newborn hearing screening was not commonplace it took 12 months before the family received this diagnosis.

Vivek had an eventful start to his life – getting his cochlear implant at one and a half years old, and then moving to Brisbane shortly after.  

“A frantic Google search for cochlear implant support brought us to Hear and Say. Being new to the country, in very unfamiliar circumstances, the support and understanding we received from the team was a blessing to say the least,” said Bindu, Vivek’s mum.

“I get goose bumps every time I drive past the original centre location; I tear up when I tell the story of how we found Hear and Say and the wonderful staff that helped Vivek to hear and speak.

“From responding to puppets playing hide and seek at our cochlear implant programming sessions, to learning cooking vocabulary in speech therapy lessons, Vivek blossomed through those initial years,” said Bindu.

At three years old Vivek got his second cochlear implant.

“Despite delays in getting his first and his second implant, Vivek was vocal and ready for kindy by the time he was four years old.

“We were lucky once again and had extremely supportive and diligent kindy teachers. Vivek continued to build his vocabulary, stringing words into sentences, he also learnt to count, sing and write,” said Bindu.  

Thanks to the hard work of his family, his cochlear implants, and specialised speech therapy, Vivek started school at five years old, alongside his peers – in fact he was the youngest in his grade.

Vivek continued to grow confidence, speech, comprehension, reasoning and his ability to advocate for himself.

“There are so many things we are so proud of Vivek for, when he spoke at the Power of Speech event at the National Press Club in Canberra at six years old, when he spoke at the International Audiology Conference in Brisbane with Graham Clarke (inventor of the cochlear implant) in the audience, seeing him take part in choir, excelling at debating at school, being a Student Ambassador in year six, going to camps independently, and his participation in swimming,” said Bindu. 

Img Vivek Cuddling His Dog

Bindu reflects on the importance of being able to hear, and what this has meant for her son.

“It is hard to imagine what life would have been for Vivek without the excellent support he received from Hear and Say by way of audiology programming, specialised speech therapy and guidance on using cochlear implant correctly,” said Bindu.

“Hear and Say will always be Vivek’s life-long partners. The impact they’ve had, especially the love, care and professionalism of the staff, was evident when Vivek recently expressed a desire to consider audiology as a career option.”

Nothing gets in the way of Max doing his favourite things – from playing sport to riding his bike and scooter, to doing gymnastics and playing board games with his 10-year-old sister, Chels. He ultimately wants to grow up and play cricket for the Brisbane Heat one day!

When Max was four years old, his parents Sally and Phil, took him to the doctor for his routine immunisations, only to find out he had a hearing loss in one ear. This surprising news made it quite an emotional day for Max and his family.

Img Max And Chels At The Park

“It took so long to diagnose because Max didn’t know any better. He thought silence in his right ear was how it was supposed to be,” Sally said.

Max was fitted with a CROS hearing aid for 12 months while Sally and Phil decided what was the best option for Max long-term, ultimately deciding that the cochlear implant was the way to go. Max underwent cochlear implant candidacy which involved a magnitude of testing to ensure he was a good fit for the implant.

In January 2019, at five years old, Max received a cochlear implant, which was switched on at Hear and Say’s Brisbane Centre one week later, changing his world forever.

“The switch on was certainly a milestone moment but it’s been the moments at home where he has heard things that he hadn’t heard before that have been really special,” Sally said.

Phil and Sally have been grateful for the support that Hear and Say have provided not only to Max but to their whole family.

“Max’s hearing loss is not just Max’s issue, it’s ours as a family. Hear and Say have provided us with a community of people that continue to help us on this journey. And they have helped us with the bigger things, something that is so overwhelming and unexpected and made it easier to break it all down, normalise it.” said Sally.

Max is now eight years old and continues to visit Hear and Say fortnightly for specialist speech therapy where he works on his listening and speaking skills.

“Max is progressing really well, his ability to focus and learn in each lesson continues to improve and the outcomes we are seeing are very positive,” Phil said.

“Max is loving school and is performing really well. This cochlear implant is helping him to be able to hear in what would have been very challenging situations, such as a noisy classroom. His ability to communicate and engage with his mates in the playground is further enhanced due to his implant.”

Max and his family have also been absolute superstars with no shortage of enthusiasm coming from sibling duo, Max and Chels, who have continually channelled their incredible efforts into the noisiest cause of all, Loud Shirt Day.

“I like being part of Loud Shirt Day because it raises money for other families, and we get to dress up and make our own loud shirts,” said Max.

Img Max And Chels With Tania Wearing Loud Shirts

“It’s also great to get to help other kids that maybe haven’t been diagnosed and need more support in their life. We know how hard it is to go through the challenges, as a family. Hear and Say help families learn more about hearing loss and give support,” added Chels.

Updated: December 2021.

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Have you noticed you’re constantly repeating yourself to a loved one? Is the volume of their television, radio or tablet often blaring?

One in two of us know someone with a hearing loss (The State of Hearing Report, 2019), yet we know it can take up to 10 years to do something about hearing issues after they notice a change (Davis et al., 2007). Hearing loss can have wide-reaching effects not only for the person experiencing it, but also for their family, friends and colleagues.

Bringing up the topic with a loved one can be a sensitive conversation, particularly if you think it may take some convincing for them to seek support. Hear and Say Audiology Manager, Julie Decker reflects on steps you can consider when talking to loved ones about hearing loss.

 “It’s important to carefully choose the time and place to have this kind of discussion – ideally somewhere calm, quiet and with no distractions,” said Julie.

“Express your concerns from a place of understanding and care. Chat about examples of when you’ve noticed they have difficulty hearing, or even times when they were ‘missing out’ because they couldn’t keep up with what was going on around them.

“Consider talking about the potential impact it’s having on others. Things like if the television volume is constantly raised  it can  be a distraction for other members of the household, or the frustrations felt from people always repeating themselves. There are also the many potential safety issues that hearing loss poses, such as not being able to hear fire alarms or alerts.”

If your loved one is interested in seeking assistance with their hearing, the next step is to book a hearing test with a qualified audiologist.

“It can take time for people to come around to their hearing loss and be ready to take action. However, even if someone believes they only have a mild hearing loss, encourage them to get a hearing test to confirm the full picture of what’s going on. The earlier they receive support, the better,” said Julie.

“Offer to come along to the appointment with them. Two sets of ears are often better than one! You may also like to get your hearing tested too – having a baseline for years to come is useful.

“Although these conversations can be difficult, early invention really is key. The longer your brain goes without good sound input, the greater the chance you may have a permanent loss of understanding speech clearly. This makes maintaining your qualify of life and connections to loved ones far more difficult.”

Hear and Say audiologists work to gauge an individual’s history, their lifestyle and communication goals, so that they can be best matched with the type of hearing aids that meets their personal needs.

Sophie may only be three years old, but she is already a big help in the kitchen.

From her home on the Sunshine Coast where she lives with her parents and older brother, Sophie loves baking up a storm – not forgetting the all-important final task of licking the beaters.

Sophie Wearing Hearing Aids While Baking

Sophie was born with hearing loss in both ears relating to a genetic condition known as Treacher Collins syndrome, as well as microtia and atresia (underdevelopment of the external part of the ear and absence of the ear canal). Sophie wears hearing aids – purple and pink, her favourite colours – to ensure she is picking up all the sounds around her.

Supported by the Hear and Say Sunshine Coast Centre in Nambour, Sophie attends fortnightly specialised speech therapy sessions to assist in the development of her listening, speech and language skills.

“Sophie is making beautiful strides in the development of her speech and language skills, and is tracking at the same rate as children her age who don’t have hearing loss,” said Sophie’s listening and spoken language specialist, Rebecca Parker.

“Our future speech therapy sessions together will look at further developing Sophie’s language skills, such as combining words in grammatically-complete sentences; understanding a range of pronouns; and answering ‘What?’ and ‘Where?’ questions.”

Sophie and her family also regularly attend the LEAP Group Social Skills program, which offers play-based educational activities with an emphasis on social communication skills.

 “Our whole family has benefited from the fantastic support we receive at Hear and Say,” said Sophie’s mum, Kate.

“Sophie especially enjoys going along to LEAP, and all the kids are so friendly and happy to be there. Sophie loves music and singing songs with [clinical facilitators] Liz and Kirsty. Singing has really helped Sophie to use spoken language, and she’s always singing in the car on the way home. My son has also benefited from attending, to see other children and families the same as ours.

“It’s a happy activity for us as a family to attend and we have made some great new friends. We have really benefited from talking to other parents on a similar journey.”

With days packed full of favourite activities including trips to the beach and dancing to The Wiggles, the holidays have been a fun-filled time for 18-month-old, Violet.

Born with two rare ear-related conditions known as microtia and atresia, Violet has used hearing aids since she was three months old – and is relishing all the special sounds that summertime brings.

Violet Wearing Bone Anchored Hearing Aid Holding Orange Balloon

It was through a dedicated Facebook page set up by Hear and Say for families of children with microtia and atresia that Violet’s parents first stumbled upon a community of others forging a similar path.

“I first joined the Facebook group when Violet was only a few weeks old,” recalled Violet’s mum, Clem.

“I had asked a question and Simone from Hear and Say responded and offered to call me. She answered a lot of questions I had about future options for surgery and hearing aids, and invited me to the Hear and Say centre in Brisbane. There I learnt about listening and spoken language therapy lessons and [Group Social Skills] playgroups that we could attend.”

For Clem, the opportunities to gain local support proved invaluable, following Violet’s surprise diagnosis at birth and resulting moderate-to-severe hearing loss.

“Once a fortnight we now visit Hear and Say for an hour-long listening and spoken language therapy lesson which includes lots of interactive play, singing and reading,” said Clem.

“It has been very helpful to have the support of her therapy specialist and to be reassured that Violet is making progress and within typical development for her age. Participating in some of the online parent training webinars Hear and Say offers has also provided useful parenting information and advice.”

Clem also noted that the annual Australian Microtia and Atresia Conference hosted by Hear and Say each year – run wholly online for the first time in 2020 due to coronavirus – had offered the unique opportunity to meet other families from around the country, and to have consultations with Australian and international specialists.

Almost 400 kilometres from Rockhampton is the community of Moranbah, home to six-year-old Aria and her family.

It was through a visit from the Hear to Learn program at Aria’s school that her hearing loss was first picked up – a shock to her parents, having watched their daughter pass her hospital-based hearing screen at birth with flying colours.

Img Aria Wearing Her Green Hearing Aids

For the past four years, Hear and Say has hit the road through Central Queensland, taking the Hear to Learn – School Hearing Screening program into some of the state’s smallest towns.

In partnership with the program’s founding regional partner, Thiess, these trips have enabled families to access vital early childhood hearing services right from the classroom, rather than having to make a trip that’s often many hours’ drive from home.

“Aria has always been ahead developmentally, had an exceptionally good year at school and showed no indication at home of hearing loss,” said mum, Prue.

“She didn’t watch the TV loudly and has always articulated all her sounds and words correctly – so the discovery of her hearing loss came as a surprise to us, her teacher and our friends.”

The screen had picked up that Aria’s hearing wasn’t within the average range at higher pitches; this included the speech sounds ‘sh’, ‘th’ and ‘f’. Follow-up assessments ultimately led to Aria being fitted with hearing aids earlier this year.

For Aria, hearing better with the help of her new hearing aids – right in time to begin Year One – is already reaping rewards, particularly in noisy environments like the classroom or in shopping centres where hearing what’s going on has become easier.

“I think as parents we expect and hope that when a hearing test is passed that our child has good hearing. It had never crossed our minds that we would be in a situation where Aria would be diagnosed with a hearing loss at the age of six,” said Prue.

“Hear to Learn is such a wonderful program and without it we wouldn’t have known Aria had a hearing loss until a lot later in her school life. If this was the case, her learning could have been impacted before we realised something could have been going on.”

From the roar of a lion to the squeak of a mouse, five-year-old Ella already has her sights set on a career working with creatures great and small.

“Ella loves animals – from turning our house into a zoo or animal hospital, to watching Bluey, to getting out her glue and colouring supplies to turn empty boxes into decorated cubbies for her toys,” said Ella’s mum, Stephanie.

Ella With Pink Hair

“She says she’s going to work at Australia Zoo in the animal hospital when she grows up.”

Ella was born with mild hearing loss in her right ear which later developed into a profound loss at 18 months old, due to an inner ear condition known as large vestibular aqueduct syndrome. After receiving a cochlear implant at two years of age, Ella began attending Hear and Say for specialised speech therapy and audiology appointments.

Stephanie said their family were continually blown away by their daughter’s ongoing progress, and felt grateful for Hear and Say’s guidance and support through a sometimes-confusing process of ensuring Ella could reach her full potential.

“Hear and Say came highly recommended to us by our speech therapist in the cochlear implant program at Queensland Children’s Hospital,” Stephanie recalled.

“We now see Hear and Say for weekly speech therapy, together with regular audiology and occupational therapy. The hearing in Ella’s left ear also has now has a mild loss, which is expected to worsen over time but for the time being is being closely monitored.”

“Ever since being fitted with her first hearing aid as a baby and now with her cochlear implant, Ella has come along in leaps and bounds. More recently we’ve also noticed a big improvement in her confidence – we are so proud of her!

“Hear and Say always feels like a safe place for Ella, and it makes such a difference that we can do everything in one place so it’s not so overwhelming for her. It’s been amazing support through our hearing journey.”

Days are busy for four-year-old Aubree, who enjoys drawing up a storm, reading books and making the most of the Queensland seasons playing outside with friends.

Aubree also loves coming to learn and play with her Hear and Say listening and spoken language therapist, Elizabeth, one of the specialist team supporting Aubree in the development of her hearing, listening and speaking skills.

Child In Speech Therapy Lesson With Clinician

“Hear and Say has been able to help Aubree in so many ways,” said Aubree’s mum, Lacey.

“We first heard about Hear and Say through our support worker at Queensland Children’s Hospital after Aubree’s diagnosis, and since then she has had fortnightly speech therapy [listening and spoken language therapy] there.

“We have attended lots of other services including the LEAP playgroup where Aubree loves getting involved in crafts and other fun activities. She has also had a couple of occupational therapy appointments through Hear and Say, and seen their audiology team for a hearing test.”

Aubree’s initially moderate hearing loss was picked up at birth, which has since slowly progressed to a profound hearing loss due to benign growths in her cochlea and auditory nerve.

Despite this, Aubree’s listening and speaking skills continue to develop in leaps and bounds, thanks to the dedication of her family, the use of hearing aids, and the early intervention support she has received.

“We are so proud of Aubree, not only with her speech but her confidence has also come a long way,” said Lacey.

“Having that support through Hear and Say for all the questions and worries we have is amazing, and to celebrate the many achievements together along the way.”

The Speech Sounds Development Chart is a common tool used in speech therapy to help track a child’s ongoing development across the various sounds of spoken language.

As children develop all skills at their own rate, these charts are a good indication of particular milestones are reached by most.

However, don’t panic if your child is missing one or two of the skills listed within their age range. Rather, use these as a guide and if you have any concerns – reach out to a speech therapist for further advice and next steps to ensure your child is reaching their full speech and language potential.

Age (average)SoundExample
Three years old/d/
/g/
/b/
/t/
/k/
/p/
/m/
/n/
/ng/
/w/
/y/
/zh/
/h/
Dog
Girl
Bat
Tall
Cat
Pen
Mail
Neat
Sing
Water
Yellow
Measure
Hello
Three and a half years old/f/Friend
Four years old/ch/
/sh/
/l/
Chicken
Brush
Like
Four and a half years old/s/
/z/
/j/
Sail
Lizard
Jelly
Five years old/r/ Red
Six years old/v/Vegetable
Eight years old/th/This
Eight and a half years old/th/Thing

Common ‘errors’ in a child’s pronunciation of speech sounds are known as phonological processes. All children learn to pronounce and distinguish sounds in different ways, and will often follow through a pattern of using certain phonological processes before learning how to say the target sounds correctly.

Sometimes, children have difficulty with learning to say sounds correctly, and require some additional supports from speech professionals such as those at Hear and Say to help them get there.

One simple way to help your child’s development of speech sounds is to model the correct pronunciation, and celebrate their successes! Check out this blog for eight language facilitation strategies to try at home.

Phonological processExplanationExampleWhat age it usually disappears (on average – guide only)
VoicingWhen sounds that don’t need much vocal power are emphasised/t/ becomes /d/
(‘time’ becomes ‘dime’)
Three years old
FrontingWhen sounds that usually are made at the back of the mouth are instead made at the front/k/ becomes /t/
(‘cat’ becomes ‘tat’)
Three and a half years old
StoppingWhen long sounds are replaced with short sounds/s/ becomes /t/
(‘see’ becomes ‘tee’)
Three to five years old
Cluster reductionWhen two consonant (non-vowel) sounds that usually sit together are reduced to one consonant sound/st/ becomes /t/
(‘stop’ becomes ‘top’)
Four years old
Final or initial consonant deletion When the first or last consonant sound in a word is removed/p/ drops off in ‘top’Four years old
Weak syllable deletionWhen syllables that don’t need much stress are forgotten in words/le/ drops off in
‘elephant’ to become ‘ephant’
Four years old
GlidingWhen sounds requiring the tongue to be in the correct place are sometimes not/r/ becomes /w/
(‘rabbit’ becomes
‘wabbit’)
Five years old

Sources and further reading

Bowen, C. (2020). Typical speech and language acquisition in infants and young children. https://www.speech-language-therapy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35:admin&catid=2:uncategorised&Itemid=117.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2021). Developmental Norms for Speech and Language. https://www.asha.org/slp/schools/prof-consult/norms/.

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