Oscar is destined for great things

Oscar is a high-achiever in everythingOscar is a high-achiever in everything

Ten-year-old Oscar is an inspiration – from his sporting achievements to his compassion, kindness and passionate support of other children with hearing impairment, it's clear he is destined for great things.

Oscar was born profoundly deaf and his mum, Claire, says she was initially worried about what the future would bring for him.  He received his first cochlear implant at eighteen months old, and Claire says this was a nerve-racking time for her.  "It's a big decision to put your child through any kind of medical procedure – but I was concerned that he may not develop speech because he couldn’t hear, and so I decided to go for the implant to provide him with the best opportunity to develop his speech."

A year later, with Oscar developing speech at a rapid rate, Claire decided to get a second implant for him, and since then, she says, they have never looked back.

Maree McTaggart, Oscar's Audiologist at RIDBC Newcastle, says that bilateral implants offer a number of advantages, particularly when it comes to understanding speech. "Input from both ears allows the brain to localise sound, providing better quality, and increasing the ability to understand speech, particularly when there is background noise.  For children like Oscar, this can have a positive impact on their learning, increasing their ability to understand speech in a classroom environment, as well as in social situations and activities where background noise might otherwise affect their ability to participate fully." 

Oscar wins medals on state and national stages

Oscar running the raceOscar shows his medal Oscar went on to represent NSW at the national athletics

In 2017 Oscar's teacher encouraged him to participate in sports. "That was a turning point for Oscar," says Claire. "Coming first in both the cross country and 800 meters at school, Oscar was asked if he would like to compete as a multi-class athlete, and from that he bloomed."

In long-distance running, Oscar found an outlet for his physical energy and one that would bring him a great deal of enjoyment and recognition.

Coming first at district and regionals, Oscar went on to win a Silver medal at state for 2km cross country and Bronze in the 800m at athletics.

"We travelled from NSW to QLD for Oscar to compete," Claire explains.  "It was pouring with rain and he had to run 2km, uphill.  I struggled to walk the course – let alone run!" she laughs.

Oscar runs without his sound processors, meaning he is profoundly deaf during the race. This means he can lack the spatial awareness and understanding of when other competitors are coming up behind him.  In the opening minutes of the race, Oscar slipped and fell down, taking another runner with him on the fall.  "Oscar is the kind of kid who'll fall down and not let it bother him – he got up and continued – and it's that quality that I admire most in him.

"He went on to win bronze and also worried about the other competitor who fell down. He was incredibly pleased that she also went on to win a medal," She adds.

Later in the year, Oscar went on to represent NSW at the national athletics and was pleased to take home the silver in the 800m.   

He is an unofficial ambassador

And this compassion and care for others is one of Oscar's defining characteristics.  Oscar attends a mainstream primary school, where he actively encourages and supports other deaf students to participate in activities and not let their hearing impairments stop them from trying something new.

"He's always acted as a kind of informal ambassador, helping people with hearing impairment connect with others.  I think that's something he may go on to do in a formal way when he is older."

Claire recounts a recent experience of when, shopping with Oscar, a lady approached them asking if she could talk to Claire about his implants, as she was considering the procedure for her daughter.  "I told her she shouldn’t talk to me, she should talk to Oscar – and she did!  He started rattling off all the things he does and how the implants help him – and I think it really helped her to see that a hearing impairment doesn’t have to hold her daughter back."

It certainly hasn't held Oscar back.  Maree McTaggart says, "Oscar is a high-achiever in everything.  He meets or exceeds all speech and language targets for his age, and we are so proud of him.  His sporting achievements are amazing too."

Oscar excels at public speaking

Oscar's not only achieving his speech targets, he's a practised public speaker.  "He'll take any opportunity to stand up and give a speech, whether it's in front of the whole school and taking centre stage in a group – he loves to talk!" Claire says.

He has big dreams for the future

Oscar is entering his Year 5  in 2019, where he has been elected School Sports Captain. For his future, Oscar has big dreams – but they aren't on the sporting field.

He wants to be an architect – and with a love of maths, Lego, drawing and problem-solving, it sounds like the perfect career.  And while Claire supports this dream, she also says she just wants him to be happy.  "With his determination, attitude and compassion, I can see that Oscar will succeed at whatever he does, so I just want him to do what makes him happy.

"All children can be whatever they want to be, and hearing impairment is not a restriction," she concludes.

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