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Early intervention for hearing loss gives Ryan a love of learning

Ryan’s love of learning comes from an early discipline of learning to listen and speak during early intervention for his hearing loss.
Ryan in school uniform next to a house
  • Hearing

He loves his sport, plays soccer and cricket and was voted in as vice-captain of his primary school. Now Ryan’s kicking goals academically at high school, thanks to a love of learning.

His parents credit the early intervention Ryan received for his hearing loss with sparking Ryan’s curiosity and interest in everything because it created a platform for early learning.

Ryan began early intervention when he was four months old, to help him learn to listen. Born with a rare genetic condition called Treacher Collins syndrome and some craniofacial differences, Ryan also has conductive hearing loss.

‘When he was born, he couldn't breathe on his own, he had a feeding tube and due to his condition, Ryan was born with a cleft palate, microtia and atresia, meaning small ears with a closed ear canal,’ Alison says.

‘Ryan had his first surgery at six weeks old to help him breathe on his own and has had multiple operations to correct his breathing and speech.’

Then at eight months, Ryan received his first Bahas, a bone conduction hearing solution, which he wore on a headband until his surgery at the age of four where bilateral implants were received allowing the external processors to be fitted magnetically.

The Baha works by bypassing the parts of the ear that are preventing sound transmission. It uses a magnetic connection to attach the sound processor to an implant, then it sends the sound vibrations to the inner ear and on to the brain so you can hear sound naturally. It works differently to a cochlear implant, where the sound processor turns sounds into digital signal which are detected by the implant and sent via electrical impulses to the cochlea.

As a family we started early intervention at NextSense with the goal of helping Ryan to listen with his hearing aids, because we didn't know if he was going to be speaking or communicating, so that was the first step.

— Mum, Alison

Once Ryan started vocalising and had some speech sounds, he started speech therapy (which continues today) and joined NextSense Preschool, attending for three years with other children with hearing and vision loss alongside their hearing and sighted peers. This enabled Ryan’s sister Amy to attend Preschool with him for his last year.

‘The Preschool experience was great, with the smaller classes, the teachers that are specialised in educating children who are deaf, and being with like-minded people. It was also great mixing with community children, and Ryan really developed his social skills.

NextSense therapists and early educators worked with Ryan and his family to achieve their goals of improving communication, of hearing and being heard.

It's been wonderful because if it wasn't for NextSense, we wouldn’t have the skills to help teach Ryan the sounds that he needed, and to make his speech sounds clear and be understood. It really helped him grow in confidence.

— Alison

Ryan also received great support from his local primary school in Kellyville, Sydney, where he was accepted into the school community and voted in as school vice-captain in his final year.

‘Ryan just went for it and got it. He doesn’t let anything hold him back and gives everything a go, like delivering speeches in primary school.’

NextSense speech pathologist Alison B has worked with Ryan and his family for many years and has watched him grow and develop. She’s helping Ryan achieve his current goals including clearer speech and self-advocacy.

‘Ryan is a very social child and in terms of self-advocacy, he's just like any other kid in that he wants to fit in. So, we’re working on growing his assertiveness when it comes to speaking up if he doesn’t hear in the classroom,’ she says.

‘He's come a long way, one step at a time. But the fact that he is now able to stand up in front of his peers and give a speech and really own his deafness, that’s thanks to a lot of support from his parents who’ve put what they learnt at NextSense into practice.

Sports crazy Ryan is now in high school, enjoying his new subjects and playing soccer at lunchtime—and Mum Alison and Dad Richard couldn’t be prouder.

He’s bright and hardworking, we're just so proud of how he's going and just can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.

— Alison and Richard

Find out about early intervention services

NextSense Early Intervention—hearing

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