“He’s an active, funny, sporty likeable kid who just happens to have a hearing loss. He doesn’t let his hearing loss stop him from achieving what he wants to.” – Rosie, mum to 11-year-old Will.
Having passed his newborn hearing screen, Will was diagnosed with hearing loss at about nine months old.
“As Will was hitting the usual milestones for his age in terms of babbling, I expected him to pass the follow up testing,” said Rosie.
“Because of our family history of hearing loss, Will was scheduled to have six-monthly hearing tests until he was three. His older brother Lachlan passed these tests so I expected Will to as well,” she said.
“I was actually quite shocked to hear Will had a hearing loss and I cried for about two weeks. I was sad for Will, worried about what his future would hold and how much his hearing loss would affect his daily life. I was also worried about how it would affect us as a family in terms of the services and support we’d need to access to help him.
“I was concerned he would be judged and teased and just didn’t want this for my little boy.”
Will was fitted with hearing aids in 2012 and the family met Hear and Say’s team in Townsville, starting telehealth speech therapy in 2013.
“It was difficult at first as we felt alone and isolated, living in Townsville away from family and not knowing anyone with a child with hearing loss. We didn’t really know what lay ahead,” said Rosie.
“Once we started regular lessons with Hear and Say, we had the opportunity to meet with Will’s speech therapist in-person, as well as other families, when we visited the Brisbane centre a couple of times a year.
“We had weekly, and then fortnightly lessons until he finished Prep. They were so engaging and catered to Will’s interests which made a huge difference.
“Hear and Say provided a wonderful service for Will but also for Andrew and I as parents to help Will outside of his lessons.
“Through Hear and Say, we had access to amazing therapists as well as a support network of other parents of children with a hearing loss. It meant we didn’t have to feel alone and Will also knew there were other kids out there just like him.”
In 2017 Will started school in Warwick, who were supported in ensuring that Will didn’t miss out on anything his hearing peers could hear.
“This was one of my early fears so I was so grateful they were on board from the start. Will’s hearing loss has been part of his school journey and the kids in his class have always been accepting of it. They even used to remind the teacher that the Roger FM was on mute!” said Rosie.
Now 11 years old, Will loves to spend time outdoors riding motorbikes, camping, going to the beach and hanging out with his friends. Will also loves to play hockey, cricket, touch football and athletics at school. He loves listening to music and watching the football as a mad North Queensland Cowboys supporter.
“I love that he can communicate verbally (even though he’s a little shy!) and that he has an interest in music,” said Rosie.
“Will overcame his shyness recently taking part in the school Choral Verse Speaking group that competed at the district eisteddfod and won their category,” she said.
“I am so proud of him for taking that step and overcoming his fear of speaking in public.
“We are so appreciative of the support of the amazing donors and benefactors who have supported Hear and Say to allow us to take part in the extra opportunities. We are so grateful for Dimity and her foresight in starting Hear and Say three decades ago so that kids like Will are able to achieve wonderful things.”