Like many four-year-olds, Elias is full of energy! At one month old, Elias was diagnosed with hearing loss but he hasn’t let that slow him down, he loves riding his bike, playing outside, climbing and running. He’s also a big fan of books, cars and Lego.
Elias’s diagnosis was unexpected news to his mum Rachel, this shock is a shared feeling for many families receiving this information.
“Elias has moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. His loss is ‘sloping’, meaning he hears at near-normal levels for low frequencies (think the sound of a truck or a dog barking) and has a moderate loss for high frequency sounds (such as birds chirping),” said Rachel.
“We were really surprised when Elias was diagnosed, we had no idea he wasn’t hearing properly. He’d turn to our voices and respond when we talked to him, so it didn’t occur to us that his hearing was compromised.”
At three months old Elias got his first pair of hearing aids and at five months he started to come to Hear and Say.
“Initially we were seeing specialised speech therapist each fortnight, these appointments became monthly as he got a bit older. We also attended the infant and parent group, Listen Little Stars and progressed to the LEAP playgroup when Elias was nearing two,” said Rachel.
“We also saw an occupational therapist at Hear and Say when Elias was two years old to check that his balance and motor skills were developing as expected.”
These services have made a difference to Elias and his whole family.
“We’re so grateful for the services and support offered through Hear and Say, it has made an enormous difference for Elias and our family,” said Rachel.
“We've been able to maximise Elias's listening and speaking, because we've had access to skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced speech therapists,” she said.
“Elias often tells his friends and our extended family members about ‘my Hear and Say’ and shares his many wonderful experiences at LEAP.
“He doesn’t know many local children who have hearing loss and attending Hear and Say normalises wearing hearing aids, he plays with other kids that have hearing loss and wear hearing aids or implants,” she said.
Reflecting, Rachel says that their decision to make sure Elias could hear felt like the right option to do for her family.
“Since Elias is the only person in our family with hearing loss (besides older relatives), and because his loss is sloping, it was natural to connect him with the world of sound through specialised speech therapy and audiology services.
“We also knew that developing listening and speaking skills would offer him the greatest number of opportunities to play with friends, take part in sports, and school activities, as well as jobs and hobbies when he’s older,” said Rachel.
It’s no mean feat to support a child with hearing loss as they learn to hear and speak, it takes professional support and most importantly these outcomes rely on families and parents like Rachel as their child’s primary teacher.
“Early intervention has meant that his speech and language skills are at the same level as children without hearing loss,” said Rachel.
“We often have friends and family comment that you'd never know he had a hearing loss if he wasn't wearing hearing aids.”