Sam’s special ear
By Sam’s mum, Serena Francis
“Sam now has magic in his eyes when he hears a sound for the first time”
The Government only gives The Hearing House 50% of the money it needs to provide life-changing therapy to deaf children like Sam. The Hugh Green Foundation sponsors Sam each year so he can receive the therapy he needs to learn to listen and speak.
Story: Imagine your world without sound? Unable to hear anything anyone says to you, your name, your family telling you that they love you, simple instructions, the TV, the radio, an alarm, a favorite toy and the list goes on...This was Sam's world until two years ago.
In early 2010 Serena and her partner Brett’s world was shattered when their 20-month-old son Sam was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. Over the Christmas break that year a family member had asked if they thought Sam was actually hearing. On return from holiday they sought a professional opinion. After ruling out the possibility of glue ear, a hearing specialist carried out basic hearing tests.
When they heard the words “your son is profoundly deaf”iIt felt like their world had been turned upside down. A few months later they were introduced to The Hearing House. “I remember walking in and feeling like it’s going to be ok, they were so warm and welcoming, and at that point I knew we were not in this alone. We decided we wanted give Sam the gift of sound with a cochlear implant and give Sam the opportunity to live life in a hearing world.” So in May 2010 Sam had his cochlear implant surgery and a couple of weeks later the implant was switched on - the day when the outside processor is attached to the internal implant, giving access to sound.
“Many people, including ourselves, don’t realise that the work required continues long after the implant is turned on,” Serena says. “Over time you have to teach a profoundly deaf child to hear as it’s not something that comes naturally to them. This is done through lots of therapy - talking, singing, playing … The Hearing House plays a huge part in this - staff are now teaching us how to teach Sam to listen.”
So far, Sam has progressed in leaps and bounds. He is starting to put two words together and Serena says he now has magic in his eyes when he hears a sound for the first time. While Sam has made great progress, thanks to the wonderful financial support from the Hugh Green Foundation, he will need to continue attending The Hearing House for at least another couple of years to get up to the same listening and speaking ability as his hearing peers. The aim will be for Sam to attend a mainstream school when he turns five and be able to speak at the same level as his hearing friends.
“The Hearing House is an amazing place, full of wonderful caring people who are passionate about what they do,” says Serena. “This is now our life and we will live every day as it comes - offering Sam the best support, guidance and opportunities we can. Sam can still live a full and busy life - as most hearing children would - but with a few more challenges and we know that it’s up to us to make sure he believes in himself and help pave the way for him!”