Aleisha is one of our Queensland based parent mentors. Aleisha's bubbly and warm character is what people radiate towards. Having a deaf child herself, she can identify with some of those feelings that parents with a newly diagnosed deaf child can have and she loves being able to support families through the different stages of their journey.
Aleisha's passion for helping others comes from her own family's experience of having a parent mentor. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and has plenty of tips for anyone who wants to learn more about how to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing people!
Read on to learn more about this family's journey...
Aleisha: My Story
I have two children, James who is 8 and Emelia who is 6. Emelia is my child with a hearing loss. She has a bilateral sensorineural mild to moderately severe loss. She was aided at around 3 months. We first went to EI when Emelia was about 6 months old. At this time we did Auslan and verbal communication. As Emelia grew it was evident she was very verbal so the Auslan side slowed down. However as she attended Yeerongpilly ECDP until she was school age, she was exposed to Auslan the whole time. Emelia now attends a mainstream Catholic school with her older brother.
We don’t actually have any confirmation of why she has a hearing loss, but we do think it was because Emelia’s birth was complicated and as a result she required prolonged resuscitation and was ventilated for 19 days – both factors that can play a part in hearing loss.
How I found out about my child’s deafness
We first found out that Emelia might be deaf when the hospital performed the Healthy Hearing Screen at day 20. Emelia got a pass/refer on the first one. So the screen was repeated. When the second screen was done it was refer/refer. As per the process this meant that we needed to complete the ABR to see the exact level of predicted loss. It took two goes to get the data required and the predicted loss was very close to her actual loss. This process seem to happen so quickly at the time.
How I felt at the time
When Emelia was first diagnosed I was worried and scared and had so many questions. However due to Emelia’s complicated birth it was very easy for me to also feel blessed that she was still with us. And even if she couldn’t hear at all, I knew we would be ok.
How I feel now
Emelia is thriving and is a confident, loving child. I know that hearing loss does not affect the person that she is. And I also know that apart from adding a few extra challenges along the way, Emelia will be just fine.
I guess any challenges that I faced, I really took the advice of the professionals – so really we just did what was recommended.
When it came to choosing a mainstream school, I had to make a decision early as I wanted both my children to attend the same school if possible. I researched local schools and chose a school with the least amount of students, as I knew this would make it easier for Emelia in large group situations like assembly’s etc as there would be less noise. I also choose a school where they had a good inclusion policy. I called the school and got a really lovely feel from them so enrolled James and then when it was Emelia when it was her turn.
Throughout our journey, I have relied on the advice of the professionals. So after speaking with CHC professionals it was clear that hearing aids would benefit Emelia, so there wasn’t even a question in our mind if she would have them or not.
Then QHLFSS helped me to choose an EI that was close to home, and after attending once, I knew that it would be positive for Emelia to continue at Yeerongpilly ECDP. Once she started to attend EI, it was the Teacher’s of the Deaf who provided the most support and put my mind at ease. I was able to ask questions that I was unable to ask Emelia yet as she was too little to answer questions like – ‘Can she hear this sound?’
The choice to introduce Emelia to Auslan was simple for me, as professionals always kept reminding us that her hearing loss may not remain stable, so I wanted her to be exposed so that if her hearing got worse we would have some basics in place to be able to communicate. The real challenge with this was getting family on board, and unfortunately, I struggled with this up until it became clear that Emelia was going to be (VERY) verbal. Now we don’t really use Auslan at all anymore, but sometimes when Emelia is trying to get her point across she will turn off her voice and make some hand gestures and expect me to understand (Not Auslan, just her own interpretation 😊).