Six-year-old Alex Calleja has started at his local primary school and doing very well academically. He is still too young to appreciate just how great his achievement is – given he was found to have profound bilateral deafness at birth and given cochlear implants at seven months.
All those years ago his mum, Rosina, came across family resistance to the early intervention program that started for Alex when he was just a few weeks old – as well as fearful opposition to his cochlear operations.
'As parents, we have never stopped advocating for Alex to have every opportunity in life – just like other children at his mainstream school.
— Rosina Calleja
From the very start of his life we have been surrounded by amazing doctors, speech therapists and teachers who have educated us about every aspect of early intervention so we could educate the rest of the family.
'There was a lot of grief and concern at the start about what the future would look like for Alex and whether we were making the right decisions for him. We decided to give him absolutely every opportunity we could,' Rosina says.
For children with hearing loss, intervening early makes a big difference to their speech and language development long-term. With the right support, children can reach their potential and it’s vital that families are at the centre of services so they can navigate the system and have therapy tailored to their child’s individual needs.
NextSense has been a central part of Alex’s life – working towards the goal of enabling him to attend a mainstream school.
'Our whole experience with NextSense has taught me there is such a sophisticated range of services out there for people who are deaf – and so much opportunity. Our speech therapist has told me that one of the biggest struggles she has is to help families understand that so much can be done to help kids like Alex take their place in the general community.
'It is such an overwhelming, confronting thing to receive a deafness diagnosis right when your baby is born. I want all those mums and dads to find out what our family very quickly realised – that we are not alone, there are positive things that can be done for our children, and so many experts are willing and waiting to help.'
Alex’s family are calling on others to help support services for children with hearing loss this Loud Shirt Day on 20 October.