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Early help for Hannah’s hearing loss has given her the best start at ‘big school’

Five-year-old Hannah is settling in well to big school, having already put in years of hard work to make sure she can learn effectively alongside her peers.
Hannah wearing school uniform and smiling as she looks to the right
  • Hearing

Five-year-old Hannah was just as excited about starting at big school this year as her friends—but she has already put in years of hard work to make sure she can learn effectively alongside her peers.

Hannah was born with hearing loss in both ears, and thanks to intensive early support through weekly sessions to develop her speech, language and other important skills, she is thriving in a mainstream education environment.

Hannah was fitted with hearing aids at three months old and soon after she began early intervention services with NextSense.

Hannah's mother Tammy, father Peter and Hannah smiling at the camera. They are inside

She also attended an early learning playgroup run by our specialist staff, which honed her speaking and active listening skills, and gave her mum Tammy the opportunity to meet other parents of children with hearing loss.

Tammy and husband Peter had no prior experience with hearing loss, but they were committed to giving Hannah the best start in life.

It was all very new and very scary at the time but everyone we spoke to helped us understand the next steps. Hannah hadn’t even turned one yet and she was already having weekly sessions.

— Tammy

Professor Greg Leigh, Director of NextSense Institute, says early diagnosis and intervention for hearing loss is crucial in creating foundations for learning and life skills.

“It’s really important that families get the support they need as soon as their child is diagnosed with hearing loss,” he says.

There is clear evidence that intervening at the earliest possible time leads to better language and developmental outcomes for children who are deaf or hard of hearing... Children who get the right early support can reach the same milestones as their hearing peers.

— Professor Greg Leigh

"It’s also critical that they get continued help along the way and part of that is having a team of people around them who can support their educational and developmental needs", he says.

Hannah’s mum Tammy says her daughter’s progress to date has definitely been a team effort.

“We’ve really worked together to have Hannah as ready as she can be for school, with her speech and language on par with her peers.”

"I’ve really enjoyed seeing her excitement at what she has been learning. I’ve been told by others that she is keen to learn and participate in class activities. She is enjoying learning to read her tricky words and completing her [digital literacy program] Reading Eggs", says Tammy.

Hannah sitting on a carpeted floor wearing a floral tutu and glasses, and smiling.

You can read about Hannah's story on page 15 in The Western Weekender.

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