Jan 11, 2009

Against the Odds

Tuesday December 16th 2008

Today was a very special day for my family, personally. Almost twenty years ago when my youngest son, Alexander, was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss I did not expect that he would graduate from high school with his SACE, after having been mainstreamed from Reception. For some time in the early days, my husband and I didn't even think that oral language was a realistic option for him. So today, when he walked out in his academic gown, to receive a Bachelor of Economics at the University of Adelaide, you can imagine how our hearts swelled, and how once again we said silent prayers of thanks for the brilliant, selfless Professor Graeme Clark, who invented the multichannel cochlear implant and put a huge chunk of his life into constantly improving it, so that the quality of life for thousands of deaf adults and children around the world could be immeasurably improved.

From left: Alex's grandfather, Robyn, Alex, Peter (Alex's Dad) and James (Alex's brother)

The potential outcomes for children born deaf and hearing impaired today are so different from twenty one years ago, when Alex was born. Dream ambitiously for your children - your dreams are not unrealistic. And if your greatest dream is for your child to be happy and have a caring nature then you're probably already half way there.

Article written by Alex's mother, Robyn.

Editors Note: Alex was born with a profound hearing loss in 1987. At that time cochlear implantation was not readily available, and in fact wasn't until Alex was 3. At that point in time, despite intensive therapy and a lot of work by both of his parents, Alex only had a vocabulary of about 50 words. The vast majority of his words were only intelligible to his immediate family. When the opportunity for a cochlear implant became available his parents travelled interstate (about 9 hours each way) first for him to have his surgery and then for him to attend follow up mapping appointments. They continued to do this until a program was set up in their home state that Alex could access.

In fact so passionate did Alex's mum become about supporting deaf children, she went on to train as a teacher of the deaf and then became a certified Auditory Verbal Therapist, and is now Clinical Program Manager of the Cora Barclay Centre - the service that supported Alex for all those years!