Grace and her parents Emma and Adam have been through a lot in the vivacious toddler’s short life—successfully fighting stage four cancer, undergoing major surgery, and enduring extensive chemotherapy that resulted in significant hearing loss. Now, despite all the odds, Grace’s cancer is in remission, and she is finally able to start living the life she has fought so hard for. With the holistic care of a team of leading NextSense experts and the support of her dedicated parents, Grace is building her social and communication skills and started her first term at the NextSense Spoken Language Preschool.
Read part one of Grace's story here.
Grace’s person at NextSense—her key worker
In July 2020, after emphasising that they wanted to access all the support Grace needed in one place, the family were referred to NextSense.
At NextSense, you don’t just get one highly qualified professional, you get an entire team around your child, coordinated by what is called your key worker.
A key worker is a member of Grace’s therapy team who provides early intervention services and coordinates the rest of the specialised team according to Grace’s individual needs.
Grace’s key worker is Jan, a NextSense early intervention teacher consultant. Jan was just what Grace’s family needed—someone who understood their individual needs and who could coordinate her specialised team. Grace’s early intervention supports included individual and group early intervention, occupational therapy to improve her bone density, physiotherapy, and cochlear implant services.
— says Emma
‘Having the security of knowing how flexible Jan was, that everybody was in the one organisation and they know and work really well together has been really, really important.’
In their weekly sessions, which alternated between one-on-one therapy and group therapy through the Early Learning Group, Jan worked to build a rapport with Grace, and focus on gauging and developing her communication skills.
Jan explains that Grace was born hearing and had age-appropriate development before her cancer treatment. But, as her hearing loss continued, her language skills dropped.
Through their weekly sessions, and the activities given for the family to complete at home, Grace’s communication skills have improved significantly.
‘Grace has picked back up pretty well when it comes to hearing and communication. She has a great vocab and is tracking fairly on target but due to her isolation from other kids at a young age she still has some challenges with social skills and behavior,’ Jan says.
As Grace currently relies on hearing aids, which she dubbed ‘my hearing things,’ Emma and Adam also met with Clinical Professor Catherine Birman to assess Grace’s cochlear implant eligibility. This assessment will involve testing how well Grace’s cochlear and brain pathways are working—and give Emma and Adam the opportunity to find out whether cochlear implants are an option for Grace.
Learn how Grace and her family’s lives changed when they discovered Grace’s cancer went into remission and what the family did next, in the May edition of NextSense News.