When Valentina didn’t pass her newborn hearing test, further tests during surgery revealed the 4-week-old baby girl had severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.
Valentina’s mum and dad had so many questions—what would their child’s life be like and how would their baby communicate?
At the time, mum Kiara says, they were given no answers, and left in the dark.
‘In the beginning it was overwhelming as Valentina still had a number of medical issues which we were working through,’ Kiara says.
Searching for answers, it wasn’t until after months of investigations they discovered that Valentina was eligible for cochlear implants, early intervention, and could receive the support they needed, through NextSense.
‘Now my heart explodes with joy when I see Valentina turn and respond to soft sounds that I never thought she would be able to hear,’ Kiara says.
NextSense ear nose and throat surgeon, Clinical Professor Cathy Birman OAM, performed the cochlear implant surgery and the family chose NextSense as their early intervention provider.
‘Once we did that, the process was smooth. A NextSense social worker came to our house, making it so much easier than having to travel and take Valentina. It was good to have someone to explain everything simply, and to answer all our questions,’ Kiara says.
‘NextSense has helped me and my family understand that there is so much opportunity and potential for Valentina to help her access sound and communicate. Without early intervention support, I literally wouldn't even know what to do.’
Early intervention is critical for children to develop communication, language and social skills, listening and spoken language skills – and for families to know what their language options are.
Valentina is supported by a team that includes a Teacher of the Deaf, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and audiologist . The team check in on Valentina’s progress and give mum and dad exercises to do at home with their daughter.
Charmaine Mercer-Moseley is Valentina’s Teacher of the Deaf and says since receiving her cochlear implants Valentina has made great progress.
‘She is now using her voice to communicate and is understanding early words and phrases. Valentina has recently developed her first spoken words which is very exciting. Her parents are doing a wonderful job supporting Valentina in all areas of her development,’ Charmaine says.
Kiara plans to support her little girl to learn Auslan, to equip her with a communication choice as she grows.
The family has also connected with others who have a child in Valentina’s situation, ‘we met a little boy, with bilateral cochlear implants like Valentina and it was a breath of fresh air. It took away so much fear of the unknown—to know there are other people who are going through what we are and ahead of our journey,’ she says, ‘It gave both my husband and I the confidence that everything will be ok, and we were in the right place to give Valentina the support she needs to have the best opportunities in life.’
Every morning when our baby wakes up and we put on her headband with cochlear implants, I say good morning, and her face lights up at the sound of my voice. Seeing that just makes everything we have been through seem like nothing.
We will be forever grateful for every single person that has touched our lives throughout this journey to date, and everyone else that will come into our lives. It has been a lot easier having everybody at NextSense—Valentina has been given the gift of sound.
This Hearing Awareness Week we’re highlighting client journeys with hearing loss. Read more stories like Valentina's here. Asking a question now pays off later.