Elspeth is a four-year-old who is thriving at pre-prep, but it has been a journey for her and her family to get to this point.
Her weeks are filled with dancing, swimming, trips to the beach and rainforest explorations.
“Elspeth is our little mermaid who loves the water or playing in the sand. She can draw or colour-in for hours on end and enjoys playing make believe with her brother,” said Amy, Elspeth’s mum.
Today Elspeth has hit her stride but her parents reflect on the many steps taken to get to this point.
While pregnant with Elspeth and on holiday in Melbourne, Amy and Alastair were suddenly faced with the emergency caesarean birth of their baby girl.
Delighted to meet their beautiful baby girl, it was also a difficult start for the young family. Elspeth was born with two rare conditions known as microtia and atresia, which affect the formation of her ear and ear canal as well as hearing.
“When Elspeth was born, it was immediately obvious that something was wrong with her ear.
At the time we didn’t know exactly what this would mean for her and our family, but we knew about the incredible outcomes possible for children with hearing loss as both Amy and I work in medical professions,” said Alastair.
After finding out about their daughter’s hearing loss, Amy and Alastair were determined to do everything to give Elspeth the support she needed to help her learn to hear and speak. Upon returning to Queensland they turned to Hear and Say in Toowoomba, where they were living at the time.
At three months old Elspeth was fitted with a Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) on her right side which used vibrations to transfer sound directly to the cochlear.
“Being able to hear means Elspeth can participate in group activities and build social connections as she starts her education,” said Amy.
“Hear and Say has made a huge difference for us, from teaching us as parents how to communicate well with Elspeth, to providing language and listening strategies for her,” said Alastair.
After the family made a sea change, Elspeth started going to fortnightly sessions at Hear and Say on the Gold Coast to continue to develop her listening and speaking skills and early literacy.
Her school has also installed a Roger sound system in her classroom to ensure she has access to sound to enhance her education.
“Elspeth is smashing her speech and language goals and her confidence is soaring,” said Amy.
Thanks to hearing technology and specialised speech therapy Elspeth’s ability to hear and speak means she can have a special relationship with Amy’s parents who live interstate, they regularly talk on Skype.
“It is so important to me that both my kids have a relationship with my parents, and I am so grateful that modern technologies and services have made this possible,” said Amy.
“As parents, Hear and Say has equipped us with all the tools to ensure Elspeth continues to thrive.”
“Elspeth has developed her language skills wonderfully. I always say to people that her hearing loss is not a limiting factor in her success at school or anywhere else in life,” said Alastair.
He was right! Elspeth’s progress is nothing short of amazing.