Anna, who is 40 years old, was born with profound hearing loss. Supported by RIDBC during her schooling, Anna went on to study her masters through RIDBC Renwick Centre. Her first son, Alexander, also has profound hearing loss and is supported by RIDBC.
Anna was diagnosed with hearing loss when she was two years of age.
“The loss of language over those early years greatly impacted my life,” said Anna. “That is a critical time for a child to develop their listening and language skills. I had to rely on lip reading, gestures, and body language.”
In 1989, RIDBC Garfield Barwick School opened its doors – and Anna was part of the first class of students. At the time the school catered for students from kindergarten to year 12 who were learning to listen and speak with the assistance of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
“I accessed support from RIDBC whilst also attending Tara Anglican School for Girls,” said Anna. “I was so grateful for the expert support I received as it helped me go a long way in a very short time. I had a bunch of fantastic teachers who worked really hard with me to achieve in all aspects of learning.
“I definitely had highs and lows as a student – I see myself as independent and determined. I eventually finished my studies through TAFE and I would not have made it that far if it wasn’t for RIDBC. They gave me a feeling as a young adult that I had choices.”
Anna went on to study to become a primary school teacher. Before receiving two cochlear implants through SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, an RIDBC service, she also completed her postgraduate study through RIDBC Renwick Centre. Then, in 2011, Anna welcomed her first son, Alexander, into the world.
“Alexander was diagnosed as profoundly deaf,” said Anna. “Although I knew about all the support that was available from my personal experience, that didn’t stop me worrying. I worried that cochlear implants might not be an option for him. When I found out there was hope Alexander could hear, just like me, there were tears of joy!”
Anna chose to return to RIDBC to find support for Alexander. In November 2011, he received two cochlear implants through SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, an RIDBC service.
“The first two years after switch on was a full on journey with all the rehabilitation, early intervention and cochlear implant mapping,” said Anna.
“When Alexander started to take off I knew the hard work had paid off. I am still amazed by his skills – he loves spending time with his little brother Mikhail, listening to music, reading stories and engaging in lots of imaginative play. I am so proud of him!”
Anna said that disability support has changed significantly since she was a child.
“Things have changed so much,” said Anna. “Early intervention programs are now the new norm for babies.
“I cannot imagine my life now if it wasn’t for RIDBC. I wouldn’t have come this far or soared so well in my academic pursuits. Now my son, Alexander, is also part of the RIDBC family – also getting the best possible start for his life.”