Sophie may only be four and a half years old, but she is already a big help in the kitchen. Sophie loves baking up a storm – not forgetting the all-important final task of licking the beaters.
Music, singing, dancing, swimming in the pool, and going to the beach are also high on Sophie’s list of favourite things to do.
Sophie was born with hearing loss in both ears relating to a genetic condition known as Treacher Collins syndrome, as well as microtia and atresia (underdevelopment of the external part of the ear, and absence of the ear canal).
“We first found out about Sophie’s hearing loss when she failed the newborn hearing screen three times. We also noticed the difference in Sophies ears size and shape,” said Kate, Sophie’s mum.
Sophie’s first six months were mostly spent in hospital between Queensland Childrens Hospital and Sunshine Coast University Hospital PICU.
“During the time at Queensland Childrens Hospital, Sophie had extensive hearing testing and her hearing loss was confirmed,” said Kate.
At two-and-a-half months old Sophie was fitted with hearing aids which she wore until she was three and a half years old where she was fitted with bone conduction hearing aids.
“They were purple and pink, her favourite colours and helped to ensure she was picking up all the sounds around her,” said Kate.
“Sophie now wears bilateral bone conduction hearing aids which vibrate through the bone at the back of her ear,” she said.
Supported by Hear and Say at the Sunshine Coast centre in Nambour, Sophie attends fortnightly specialised speech therapy sessions and playgroup to assist in the development of her listening, speech and language skills. Her parents Kate and David also attend parent counselling and education as well as advocacy support.
“Our whole family has benefited from the fantastic support we receive at Hear and Say. It has been a safe place for our family to talk with the therapist and other families in similar situations,” said Kate.
“As a family, it is no issue at all, it’s our normal. Technology for hearing loss is amazing and always advancing, we will always advocate so that Sophie will hear her best,” she said.
“Sophie is very aware she needs to wear her aids to hear and will ask for them as soon as she gets up in the morning. She is very confident in herself and knows it’s her superpower. She loves choosing which coloured or patterned headband to wear her aids on.
“We have put a lot of love, time and effort into early interventions for Sophie. Her latest test had her scoring at above average of kids with average hearing. Music has played a big part in Sophies hearing and spoken language.”
Sophie and her family also attend playgroup, which offers play-based educational activities with an emphasis on social communication skills.
“It has been great for both Sophie and her brother Connor to meet and play with other children and families like our family,” said Kate.
“Sophie especially enjoys going along to playgroup, and all the kids are so friendly and happy to be there. Sophie loves music and singing songs - singing has really helped Sophie to use spoken language, and she’s always singing in the car on the way home,” she said.
“It’s a happy activity for us as a family to attend and we have made some great new friends. We have really benefited from talking to other parents on a similar journey.”