“ Alice was a calm and happy baby, born on 20 September 2005. She slept well, she ate well, she responded to us, she babbled. The Health Nurse told us she was doing well. When she turned one, I began to wonder why she wasn’t saying mum, or ball, like her sister did at that age. But of course, all children are different, and her sister was particularly early to speak. By 14 months the wondering became worrying. Do you think she can hear? I would ask my friends. Yes, of course she can, came their reply.
I thought I had better find out, just to be sure. So I rang our local Health Nurse and asked her where I could get a hearing test done. She gave me some numbers, and I rang around. By this stage it was nearly Christmas, and I was offered dates in March. I had already worried so much by this stage that I wanted the appointment tomorrow. In the end, we had to wait until 9 January. Alice was almost 16 months old. The appointment was at the Royal Children’s Hospital. I went in thinking “she probably needs grommets”. We sat in a booth, as the audiologist made various sounds. Alice just sat there. It now seems ridiculous, but I still didn’t realise that this meant that she couldn’t hear.
She was diagnosed as profoundly deaf, with a hearing loss of more than 100dB at 1000Hz or greater. When the audiologist told me, I was completely surprised. She was just about completely deaf, and we really had had no idea!! My brain whizzed around thinking about the consequences of this…thinking that this could mean that she would never talk.
If only I had known then, what I know now, I could have spared myself and our family, a lot of distress. Within a fortnight, we were speaking to Rita Corbett at the EEP. For me, this was the first glimmer of light. I then knew that there were people who would help us, and that things could be done, and done now. An appointment had been made for us at the Cochlear Implant Clinic, but there was no certainly that Cochlear Implants were right for Alice, and even if they were, we were told that they were at least four months away. I couldn’t wait that long. Alice had been diagnosed late, and we knew that the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome. Alice had to have help now.
Rita and the EEP were fantastic. At that first appointment with Alice, Rita came to our house, and spent much of her time with Alice, not with me. Rita showed me how to do some basic signing, for words such as milk, and showed me other ways to communicate with Alice too, by gesture and mime. Every week Rita came to our house and showed us more sign language and communication methods, and also discussed progress at Australian Hearing (for hearing aids) and at the Cochlear Implant Clinic (for cochlear implants). In about 3 weeks, Alice was signing milk. That was fantastic. In other week she had hearing aids on, and was learning more each day.
Alice had 2 cochlear implants fitted on 28 May 2007. She was 18 months old. They were switched on 4 weeks later. Alice recently turned 3. Within that 18 month period, she has acquired complete, complex and grammatically correct language, good pronunciation (although we are still working on a few things) and is above average among all Victorian children (both hearing and non hearing) for comprehension and expression. She is starting 3 year old kinder next year, and is excited about it.
We do have our issues, the equipment can be a bit annoying at times, swimming and bath time are a bit tricky at the moment (she likes to play silly games when she doesn’t have her ears on) and her pronunciation still needs some work. But basically, Alice is just fine. She is a very happy and very normal little 3 year old. We love her to bits!! ”