As part of Hearing Awareness Week, August 22 – 27, one of Australia’s leading hearing organisations, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC), is reminding us that access to technology and skilled early intervention remains key to ensuring children with impaired hearing reach their full potential.
On an average day in Australia at least two children will be identified as deaf or with a significant hearing impairment.
RIDBC Chief Executive, Chris Rehn, said that 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.
“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 through the likes of going on to mainstream schools, tertiary education and employment options in the future.”
Elijah Porter is one of over 650 children with impaired hearing enrolled in RIDBC’s intensive services. When Elijah was diagnosed as profoundly deaf soon after birth, his parents Richard and Ali didn’t know what opportunities would be available for their little boy.
Fitted with two cochlear implants at five months of age, Elijah now has a language level which surpasses that of a hearing two year old.
“We’ve worked really hard with RIDBC to help Elijah learn how to interpret words and how to develop speech using his cochlear implants. His progress has been amazing!” said his mother, Ali.
“If someone had told us in the first few weeks of his life that he had the potential to progress so far, I don’t think we would have believed them. We are so thankful to the staff at RIDBC for all their help.”
The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children is Australia’s largest independent special educator, assisting thousands of children with significant hearing or vision impairment and their families across Australia.
You can help children who have hearing loss by:
Facing the child directly (don’t shout or exaggerate your lip movement)
Keeping your hands away from your face – to enable the child to see all of your face, especially your lips
Reduce background noise by turning off the television or radio
If you are not making yourself understood, finding a different way of saying the same thing
Being aware that the child who has impaired hearing may have difficulty understanding speech even with a hearing aid or cochlear implant
For more information about deafness and early intervention visit www.ridbc.org.au.