Thanks to ToyBox International, 16-month-old Hatamou can receive important treatment that focuses on family and big doses of fun.
When a young child is diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss, the whole family is affected. All of a sudden there are new needs, compromises and priorities to address. Such was the case when 16-month-old Hatamou’s hearing loss was confirmed at just four weeks of age.
Hatamou’s mild-to-moderate hearing loss meant that without aids she would not have been exposed to enough language to develop her own communication skills. And given the part of the brain responsible for communication requires the greatest stimulation from birth to three years, early diagnosis and intervention was key.
Although suspected early on, Hatamou’s mother, Mariam said the diagnosis was still hard to digest. “Hatamou was two-weeks-old when we realised she had hearing loss. My first reaction was shock. But I was also nervous because she is my first child and I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
That’s where the Telethon Speech & Hearing Centre (TS&H) stepped in. Thanks to a Gold Sponsorship funded by ToyBox International, TS&H is providing Hatamou with therapy that involves the whole family. “Individual Auditory-Verbal Therapy sessions are at the core of the services offered by the Early Intervention team. It is during these sessions that parents and family members are coached on how to enable their child to listen and speak throughout their daily activities,” explained TS&H’s Melissa Mattioli.
There is also a strong emphasis on learning through play at TS&H. Hatamou takes part in a fun range of playgroups designed specifically for children with hearing impairment. This play-based learning philosophy allows children to explore and have fun whilst developing their brain function, social interaction and confidence.
With a strong link to language development and the chance to meet kids in similar situations, these playgroups are particularly important for children with hearing loss. The result is a friendly support network with shared experiences, where families can swap ideas and stories, all in the name of health and fun.
As hearing loss can change over time, the TS&H audiology team also plays a very important role in Hatamou’s treatment, continually monitoring and assessing her ear health. But despite the challenges that Hatamou’s diagnosis poses, her family remains optimistic about her future.
“Our greatest wish for Hatamou is that she is able to attend school with her hearing peers, to receive a good education and have the best opportunities in life,” says Mariam. “She has such a bright, bubbly personality and brings such joy to our lives.”