“We’re so excited to see Willow develop her speech with the beautiful gift of cochlear implants.” – Ami, mum to two-year-old Willow.
Willow lives on the Gold Coast with her mum Ami and dad Jesse, and her weeks are filled with lots of her favourite activities and people.
“Willow loves to dance, run on the beach, draw, sing in the car to her favourite songs, paint and she especially loves playing with her cousins,” said Ami.
Shortly after she was born, Willow was diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears – picked up through the newborn hearing screening.
Willow was born with cytomegalovirus (CMV) which meant her hearing loss declined throughout her first few months and at around seven months she was diagnosed with a profound loss.
“We felt extremely overwhelmed with so many different emotions, and we were just in overall shock. We had no history in our families of hearing loss, so we both felt a bit lost in a way,” said Ami.
During this whirlwind time, thanks to the power of social media and the kindness of their networks Ami and Jesse found out about Hear and Say.
“We were lucky enough to have a beautiful family reach out to us over Facebook, they told us all about Hear and Say. Their daughter received services there and they highly recommended we get in touch with their lovely staff,” said Ami.
Willow started to come along to Hear and Say, having speech therapy lessons and then at 10 months old, she got a cochlear implant.
“Hear and say have been our rocks through Willow’s hearing journey, they supported us through speech therapy, audiology and have always been there to answer any questions or concerns we had. They have been exceptional in every way, and we’d feel so lost without them,” said Ami.
For parents, it can be a big challenge to keep hearing devices on their child as young children tend to pull them off quite often.
“We’ve had many ups and downs with Willow going through stages of wanting to wear her cochlear implants and then not wanting to wear them,” said Ami.
“With help from Hear and Say and our amazing speech therapist Greer, we have learnt so many great ways to engage Willow to wear her cochlear implants and do therapy in fun ways at home,” she said.
Teaching a child with hearing loss to learn to hear and speak really is a journey that involves the whole family and Ami is excited to watch her daughter grow, learn and have unlimited opportunities.
“Willow is really loving the process with learning to listen, hear and speak and she has made such incredible progress,” said Ami.
“Early in her cochlear implant journey, Willow couldn’t focus on environmental sounds like birds, aeroplanes and cars. Now when she hears a plane fly over, she points and pretends to be one.
“We want to give Willow as many opportunities in life as we can and being able to hear and speak will benefit her in so many ways.”