Five-year-old Alice, of Wynnum West, is a confident, chatty Prep student who has grown to love the little things that make her a bit different from her classmates. Alice, you see, has bi-lateral cochlear implants, which have given her the ‘superpower’ of hearing.
Alice was only two days old when a routine newborn hearing screening detected a problem with the hearing in her right ear. Further tests revealed that she had severe to profound hearing loss in her right ear, and a mild hearing loss in her left ear.
Alice was referred to a team of specialists at the Queensland Children’s Hospital who confirmed her hearing loss was caused by an underlying congenital virus – cytomegalovirus (or CMV), a common virus which infects people of all ages. Around one in 1000 Australian babies are affected by congenital CMV which can cause permanent disabilities, like hearing and vision loss.
By her first birthday, regular hearing checks had shown that the hearing in Alice’s left ear had significantly deteriorated and her family decided to proceed with cochlear implants.
Alice’s mum Angelique said that decision changed their lives, and the technology has allowed Alice to feel the joy that comes with hearing the world around her.
“Initially sounds were quite overwhelming for Alice, but within a short period of time her love of hearing was evident,” Angelique said.
“She loves talking and playing games with her older brother, Harrison. Some of her favourite activities including ballet, singing and creating musical concerts with instruments.
“As a family we celebrate her uniqueness, encouraging her to love who she is and embrace her implants.”
Angelique said the early detection of Alice’s hearing loss had allowed their family to engage in support services and therapies from a very early age to support her language and speech development.
“In the beginning, the unknown was daunting but with the support of others, things did get easier,” she said.
“Since her cochlear implants were switched on, Alice has received incredible support from her audiologists, she’s had speech therapy and occupational therapy, and as a family we’ve also had the ability to learn some Auslan to support her language development.
“It really has taken a village to help ensure that Alice has access to hearing and the skills to communicate effectively.”
This year Alice started school and she is enjoying learning with her friends. She continues to receive weekly support to improve her communication skills.
“Alice recognises that somethings can be difficult, but you just keep trying,” Angelique said.
“She has overcome many challenges and continues to amaze us. She still requires support but is continuing to grow and learn every day.”
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