For parents Nadia and Lewis, this Christmas will be an extra special one – the first that their baby son, Leo, will spend hearing with his new cochlear implants.
After facing the shock of Leo’s hearing loss diagnosis shortly after his birth, the young family ventured nervously to a Hear and Say community fun day last year in the hopes of meeting other families travelling a similar journey.
“It was definitely hard when we did find out for sure that our son was deaf, because I didn’t yet know much about hearing loss. Would he be able to speak? Would he be able to go to our local school? We had no idea,” said Nadia.
An immediate relief
Nadia recalled meeting a boy at the Hear and Say community fun day who was several years older than Leo, and as he chatted away to his mum, Nadia said she felt the weight lifted from her shoulders seeing the possibilities her own little boy’s future could hold.
“We started at Hear and Say, and it was immediately a massive relief,” said Nadia.
“It’s not just the listening and spoken language therapy services that they have there for us, it’s also being able to meet other parents who are in the same situation, and see their kids who are thriving. It’s made a huge difference.”
Fast forward several months, and it was amidst the coronavirus pandemic that Leo underwent cochlear implant surgery, just before his first birthday.
Nadia and Lewis recalled the moment his cochlear implants were switched onto sound for the first time as a “magical day”. The event was even livestreamed to Nadia’s extended family in Italy, who woke in the middle of the night to be there when Leo first heard his parents’ loving voices through his implants.
The special sounds of Christmas
As Leo continues learning to hear, listen and speak, Nadia and Lewis said they were excited to introduce him to Christmas traditions from their own childhoods – taking a boat trip down the canals near their home to see the Christmas lights, unwrapping presents and playing carols.
Whatever the plans, Nadia and Lewis said they would be taking every opportunity to share the special sounds of Christmas with Leo.
“I’m sure most parents would be trying to run a mile from toys which make lots of noise, however there will be a lot of those under our Christmas tree this year,” said Nadia.
“Everyone knows how much we enjoy seeing Leo’s reactions to sounds that he never would have been able to hear previously.”