Lending an ear to our youngsters

SCHOOL SCREENING: Dysart State School students benefited from a visit by a Hear and Say program.
SCHOOL SCREENING: Dysart State School students benefited from a visit by a Hear and Say program. Contributed

A SCHOOL hearing program launched its first regional Australian screening project in the Central Highlands and Isaac regions last week.

The Hear to Learn program is running until October and is working with up to 600 children from 10 regional primary schools in the Bowen Basin to ensure they receive the specialist paediatric hearing screening.

High school teacher and Dysart mother Renee Campbell said her twin boys, Hugh and Tom, were diagnosed with hearing loss, which deteriorated quickly by the time the boys were one.

The twins, now two years old, are involved in the Hear and Say Early Intervention Program, providing them with speech and language support through Telepractice.

"It can be incredibly overwhelming when you discover your child has a hearing loss,” Mrs Campbell said.

She said the Hear and Say program, via face-to-face appointments in Brisbane and through online support and learning, provided psychologists for parents, tests for children, audiology work and results from discussions with other ENT specialists about the best decisions that can be made for your child.

She said Hugh and Tom received operations last year for cochlear implants, which meant they could talk and have learnt age-appropriate speech.

The children, who are deaf without the implants, will have the implants for life.

Mrs Campbell said it had been important for her to meet other parents who understood her journey.

"The other parents have been very supportive and they help you to know that it's going to be okay,” she said.

"It makes it not so lonely. It helps you through the emotional roller coaster.”

Dysart State School principal Teena Elliott said she was "excited” regional students would be able to access a service that had previously been unavailable.

Hear and Say chief executive officer Chris McCarthy said he was delighted to see regional students receive specialist paediatric hearing screening.

"There are potentially thousands of children in regional Queensland classrooms with hearing problems going undiagnosed,” he said.

"Taking our Hear to Learn Program directly into regional schools and their communities will bring considerable health, social and educational benefits.”

Mr McCarthy said withhearing linked so closely with to a child's ability to learn, it was imperative to screen children in those critical early school years.

Hear and Say, in partnership with Thiess, willcarry out the specialist paediatric audiology assessments on children from Theodore, Moura, Blackwater, Dysart, Nebo, Glenden, Scottville and Collinsville schools.

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