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Distance no barrier to learning Auslan for young Anthony Pain

Two-year-old Anthony Pain is already a big help to his mum and dad on their cattle spread in rural Jandowae in Queensland’s Western Downs.
Anthony celebrating Loud Shirt Day

Two-year-old Anthony Pain is already a big help to his mum and dad on their cattle spread in rural Jandowae in Queensland’s Western Downs.

He’s a live wire from morning to night and doesn’t miss a thing. He was also born without an auditory nerve, which means he can’t access sound through hearing aids or cochlear implants.

So even though he’s just a toddler, Anthony is already learning sign language from his parents and teachers of the deaf at NextSense.

In fact, his whole family is learning how to communicate with Anthony in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) right beside him through NextSense online remote services.

This rural family is able to access telehealth services from their remote farm.

And they’re not alone.

NextSense was one of the first adopters of this technology and has been reaching out to rural children online for decades.

NextSense also has a network of centres across Australia and a major regional office based in Toowoomba which delivers cochlear implant services to children and adults.

Anthony’s mum, Nikyla, is taking part in Loud Shirt Day this year and organising fundraising in her small community to do her bit at giving back. Loud Shirt Day is all about wearing your wackiest shirt to celebrate, increase community awareness about hearing loss and chipping in to help organisations like NextSense to deliver best-in-class early intervention therapy.

Anthony’s NextSense teacher of the deaf, Melissa, says integrated team support is vital for families in areas where they may not have a lot of supports in the local community.

Part of my key worker role, at NextSense, is to engage with local services as much as possible and build a shared team support around the family.

— Melissa, Teacher of the Deaf

'I work with Anthony’s itinerant teacher from the Queensland education department and we have a shared goal to help Anthony make local connections to other people using and teaching Auslan in the community,' Melissa says.

'My role at NextSense is to be a family coach – to help train and support them to give them the skills they need for day-to-day life with Anthony.

'Technology like laptops and mobile phones mean we can follow Anthony and his parents in the car, around the house, get more insight into what they do around the farm, and show them signs that respond to what they are all doing on the go.

'It’s really fun. Most of all it means that we can enjoy a truly family-centred approach that supports them in their daily routines, and make connections with the broader community to bring together the services they need.'

You can support Loud Shirt Day by visiting the NextSense donate page.