From the peaceful serenity of sunrise, to unique birdcalls and the bellow of cattle, the sounds of rural life are the background to all that Jock (age four) and Sandy (age two) have ever known.
Being raised on a property in the North Queensland shire of Richmond, the brothers share a love for mustering on motorbikes and being actively involved in day-to-day station life.
Both boys also have hearing loss, a diagnosis which initially came as a daunting surprise to their parents, Jade and Nikko.
“There’s no history of hearing loss in our families, so when our oldest son, Jock’s newborn hearing screening came back as a ‘refer’ in the hospital, it was quite surreal,” recalled Jade.
“Jock was only two weeks old when we took him for further audiology testing, and after hours of assessments the results were no different. It was then that it really hit home for me and Nikko.
“We put on a brave face but once we could have a moment alone, we allowed ourselves to feel sadness – not for ourselves, but for Jock and all the unknowns, particularly given the little knowledge we had about hearing loss at that stage.”
Jock was quickly fitted with hearing aids, and the family reached out to Hear and Say’s Townsville centre – some seven hours’ drive from home – for specialised support with his speech therapy.
It didn’t take long before that initial worry and stress turned to optimism and excitement for the future, reiterated when Sandy was born two years later and faced the same diagnosis.
“Hear and Say has been unbelievably supportive since the day we first engaged with them. Their professional services, helpful and thoughtful staff and wealth of knowledge has provided our boys with the absolute best start in life,” said Jade.
“They’ve always been one step ahead of us, guiding us and the kids in the greatest possible way to ensure they’re always reaching their goals. There was a time when something didn’t seem right with Jock’s speech for example, so the team immediately investigated it further and found he had chronically blocked ears which ultimately needed grommets. We were so lucky Hear and Say was there to pick this up, which enabled Jock to keep up developmentally.”
Accessing sessions via a combination of online telepractice and in-centre appointments has meant Jock and Sandy can also continue their sessions wherever works best for the family.
“When not detected or cared for appropriately, hearing loss in children can have a detrimental effect on their speech, learning and social skills,” said Jade.
“We know first-hand that Hear and Say community is truly changing the lives of young children, and allowing them to keep up and develop alongside their friends and classmates.”