Our son, Asher, was born in March 2009. The absolute joy he brought with him you just can’t prepare for.
In his first few days out in the world he reacted quite well to sound, just as he did in my tummy, so we were somewhat taken-aback when he didn’t pass his first SWISH test. We honestly thought there was something wrong with the computer!
So when we went back for his second SWISH test we were totally gob smacked that once again he didn’t pass. We tried not to get overly anxious (but of course that was impossible!) as we hunkered down for the excruciating wait to see an Audiologist at Westmead Children’s Hospital. We knew he was hearing on some level, we just didn’t know what quality of sound he was hearing.
The Audiologist at Westmead Children’s Hospital confirmed what we already feared – Asher was able to ‘hear‘, but he had a permanent mild-moderate hearing loss in both ears and would need hearing aids all his life in order to maximise his hearing. Even though the diagnosis could have been much worse, this was initially quite terrifying news. But it was what was to follow that was for us even more confusing and intimidating.
A flurry of appointments with Audiologists, Paediatricians, Social Workers, ENT’s and other professionals ensued. Throughout this entire time Asher was such a good baby – happy and calm no matter what horrible test we were subjecting him to.
During this period a swag of reading material was thrust upon us, including a handful of pamphlets for Early Intervention Classes, adding even further to the confusion that comes with ‘diagnosis’. After the initial shock started to wear off, I tentatively began to call around various services. Each conversation felt very regimented and impersonal, until I got to Hear the Children.
I had done a little bit of homework and discovered that they offered strict Audio Verbal Therapy, which was our preferred choice, as we wanted Asher to learn to use the aided hearing he had to listen and speak, rather than lip-read. As it turned out, Hear the Children had actually introduced this type of therapy into Australia, so we knew he would be in the best hands.
Surprisingly, rather than an admin person, I was put straight through to one of the Therapists, Charmaine, who immediately made me feel comfortable. For the first time in a while I had sense of calm and hope, amidst all the confusion and fear! I knew instantly that we had found our perfect centre. Thankfully they had a space for Asher in their program.
So at 9 weeks old, with his little hearing aids freshly fitted, he started therapy once a week at Hear the Children. These past few years have proved invaluable, not only to Asher, but also to my husband and myself. We have been taught, as his primary care givers, really easy techniques for interacting with our beautiful boy in every day situations so that he can maximise his development, leading him to develop language on par with a hearing child.
It has been so heartening to see in this short time just how much Asher has thrived. His relationship with Charmaine, his therapist, is just gorgeous. He is always excited to see her - indeed his first giggle session was for her!
With the Centre’s help, Asher is meeting, and even surpassing, all the standard age appropriate milestones that hearing children would meet. The results Hear the Children achieves are absolutely incredible. With the advantages that this wonderful centre affords Asher during these, his formative pre-school years, we no longer worry for his future, or that he will meet his potential, whatsoever.