Technology and Early Intervention Critical to Children who are Deaf

23/08/13
Isla (right) and her sister Zoe

Isla is celebrating a special milestone this Hearing Awareness Week.  Four years ago this week, Isla’s cochlear implants were ‘switched-on’ and she and her family began their journey of learning to listen and speak.

Access to technology and skilled early intervention remain key to ensuring children with hearing loss reach their full potential. Newborns identified with hearing loss get the best possible start to life when they, and their families, receive immediate support and assistance through quality early intervention.

Four year old Isla has received early for her hearing loss at Hear the Children from just six weeks of age.

“Isla was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth and fitted with hearing aids in both ears. After some testing it was found she had a genetic hearing loss which is profound.  Her best chance at learning to listen and speak was through a cochlear implant,” said Isla’s mum Katherine Mullen.

Isla was only 7 months old when she received two cochlear implants and now attends mainstream preschool.

“Isla’s hearing and understanding is really good and while her speech has really accelerated in the last year or so, she is slightly behind her peers. Next year for kindy she’ll attend RIDBC Garfield Barwick School where she will receive the intensive language support she needs to really succeed in a big mainstream classroom.”

Isla is an active little girl who holds her own in a family of five – including one younger sister Zoe and three older brothers.

“The other day at preschool she grabbed a book off the shelf and told all her class to sit down while she ‘read’ them a story.  They all sat down and listened to her story.  It was lovely to see that she’s well on her way now – doing everything that a child with hearing can do.”

RIDBC Chief Executive, Chris Rehn, said quality early intervention in the first years of a child’s life is critical as it greatly improves the outcomes in language development.

“Combined with a dedicated family and the right technology, children who have a hearing loss can achieve their full potential by going on to mainstream schools, tertiary education and employment options in the future.”

RIDBC is Australia’s largest provider of services for children with hearing or vision loss, assisting thousands of children a year across Australia.  As Australia’s premier provider of training and education for professionals in the field of sensory disability, RIDBC also ensures that services delivered throughout government and non-government organisations remain cutting-edge.