When Isaac, who is now three, first began receiving support from NextSense early intervention services he was not using any spoken language and starting to fall behind his developmental milestones. Now after support from his expert NextSense therapist, Isaac is thriving—he even has advanced language skills for a child his age.
Isaac was born with microtia, a condition that means he only has one outer ear and is profoundly deaf on his left side. He uses a bone-anchored hearing aid, or BAHA, to help him gain better access to sound in his left side. This is particularly important in noisy environments, like childcare.
‘When Isaac is at childcare, he needs his hearing aid to help him hear his teachers and peers,’ says his mum, Arlene. ‘This is because they are in a big classroom and on playgrounds where there’s lots of noise.’
It’s children like Isaac that our partner Hyundai Help for Kids aims to support. This long-term partnership, which has now been renewed for 2023, is focused on supporting NextSense early intervention services. And in 2024 we will celebrate a decade of working together to help children with hearing and vision loss realise their potential.
Isaac’s parents first began accessing support through NextSense when he was almost a year old.
They wanted expert assistance in laying the foundations for Isaac to reach his full potential once he started school and in developing strategies to help him navigate some of the challenges associated with single-sided deafness.
Almost straight away, Isaac was matched with Andrew, an experienced NextSense auditory/verbal therapist consultant who specialises in providing early intervention support for children with hearing loss up to the age of five.
Since then, Andrew has met with Isaac and his parents regularly to teach important listening and language skills. Children learn best when they are having fun, so Andrew has helped Isaac to develop these skills through fun games and play.
‘We know that play and language are connected,’ says Andrew. ‘If a child has poor imaginative playing skills, it is going to impact their language. So, in the early stages, it was important to make sure that Isaac was developing those skills—for example, by helping him to feed his teddy bear, give it a pat and a cuddle, and put it to bed.’
An important part of Andrew’s work was to involve Isaac’s parents in his therapy and teaching them how to integrate learning into his daily routine so they could continue supporting Isaac’s development at home.
‘For example, Isaac had a session with Andrew where he was pouring water from a jug. Then, by pouring water from a jug into the bath, we were able to make bath time a fun activity for Isaac—and he learned what “pour” and “stop” meant well before he could even speak. Activities like this have really helped to build his vocabulary,’ Arlene says.
When they started early intervention therapy with Andrew, Isaac did not have any spoken language and was falling behind his milestones. But after a year of therapy, Isaac’s spoken language became more advanced than most children his age who are hearing.
‘Because of the work we’ve done, Isaac is actually saying more words in a sentence than an average child his age without hearing loss, so that’s awesome. He’s really just zooming ahead,’ says Andrew.
— Andrew, NextSense therapist
Because of the work we’re doing, Isaac is actually saying more words in a sentence than an average child his age without hearing loss, so that’s awesome. He’s really just zooming ahead
Isaac’s parents are excited by his progress and his newfound ability to express himself at home and with his friends.
‘He’s able to articulate exactly what he wants to and communicate with his peers,’ says Arlene. ‘He’s thriving.’