Now in his final year of primary school, Xavier receives support from Sue, his RIDBC Teacher of the Deaf at his mainstream school, Reddam House. Weekly visits from Sue ensures that he receives the support and access to technologies that enable access to all parts of the school curriculum.
“Over the years, Xavier’s RIDBC teachers have assisted him to develop strategies to communicate his listening needs effectively during lessons with his teachers, helped to create social circles and educated school staff about hearing technology and all sorts of things that make it easier for Xavier to learn,” Anna says.
The school works closely with RIDBC to ensure Xavier receives the support he needs. “Reddam House and the principal, Dee Pitcairn, have been fantastic in working with RIDBC to support Xavier, it’s a great team,” says Anna.
Two years ago, Xavier’s art teacher encouraged him to enter the ACMI Screen It competition, for which he created a stop motion film that received a Special Mention. In 2019, with the theme being ‘Listen’, Xavier was keen to enter again, and he had an anti-bullying message to share.
“It was exciting because I found that I could make a film about something that I knew quite a lot about; listening and hearing and how hard it can be at school sometimes,” Xavier says.
While he has never been bullied at his school, which Anna says takes a fierce anti-bullying stance, he has experienced this lack of understanding. “There was an occasion once where a classmate took my FM (a wireless assistive hearing device that enhances the use of hearing aids and cochlear implants in noisy environments) on my way to a lesson. He started turning it on and off and it was a really horrible experience. I think he just thought it was funny, but I was really scared that the FM would get broken and that I wouldn’t be able to hear properly in class,” he explains.
His film, Listen with Felix, set in a primary school classroom on a noisy day, follows Felix and class bully, Pugnus, in a situation that escalates when Pugnus threatens to hurt the class pet. The film reflects Xavier’s caring nature and interest in the wellbeing of his peers.
Recently, Xavier was appointed as a school “senator”, one of twelve peer-elected students who will take on a leadership role at the school.
Xavier doesn’t hesitate when asked what he wants to do for a career – he wants to be either a film editor or a judge. It’s clear that film and the creative arts will continue to play a role in his life, but for now, Xavier is looking to the near future and the transition to high school. “I am excited because we have more freedom and more responsibility…we get to choose electives like Digital Media!” he says.
For Anna, choosing a school that offered a K-12 program, enabling him to stay at the same school and continue to receive support from RIDBC was important to the family. It’s also a highlight for Xavier, who says ” I will be staying at the same school, so I will know people.”
As for his family, Anna says they can’t wait to see what is next for Xavier. “We are very proud of Xavier and very blessed to have him in our lives. Our hopes for him are that he is never limited by having limited hearing. He does not need to be.”
Anna encourages other parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing to explore the technologies and support options available to them. “Every child’s needs are unique and every hearing loss is different, but if you work with what is available to you in this country that we live in, your child will have the best experience that they can have.
In Xavier’s case, the combination of early intervention and hearing technology have resulted in him living a completely mainstream life. The sky is the limit!”