It’s been a long time since 25-year-old, Natasha was one of the small children running around Hear and Say’s LEAP Group Social Skills program.

When Natasha first began listening and spoken language therapy in the mid-1990s, Hear and Say was based from a small building in the Brisbane suburb of Taringa, known fondly as the Mouse House.

“I have lots of memories of Mum and I travelling down each week for my listening and spoken language therapy session with Dimity from where we were living outside of Toowoomba, and then we’d stay overnight with family and return to Hear and Say the next day for playgroup at the Mouse House,” recalled Natasha.

Natasha was four years old when she received her first cochlear implant, only 12 years after the first child in Australia underwent the same surgery. When Natasha was 18, she received her second implant – an experience she described as “life changing”.

Fast forward to present times, and Natasha has been giving back to the community who helped teach her to listen and speak, by returning to LEAP – this time as a volunteer.

“Having cochlear implants has changed my life for the better, and it’s been great to give back because without Hear and Say, I wouldn’t have accomplished so many achievements,” said Natasha.

“I can play sports, talk on the phone for hours without any trouble, and I have even travelled to Thailand and Japan by myself to visit friends. From attending regular schools to getting my driver licence, I can do what everyone else does in their day-to-day life.”

Having studied a Certificate IV in Leisure and Health at TAFE on the Gold Coast, Natasha is now a community support worker, and in her spare time enjoys being at the beach, playing volleyball and hanging out with family and friends. Natasha continues to visit Hear and Say twice a year for audiology appointments, through the Adult program.

“I am very thankful to Dimity and the Hear and Say team who put so much hard work in during those early days to help my mother in applying different strategies of working with me as I learnt to hear and speak.”

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