Olivia’s Story (written by her mother, Kirsty)
Olivia was diagnosed with sensory neural profound deafness at the age of 3 months. After diagnosis we went to British Sign Language classes with her to aid her communication skills. She was fitted with hearing aids, but they had very little effect on her ability to hear. We had heard about cochlear implants via a family member and speech and language therapists. After much thoughtful consideration, and various forms of testing, Olivia was put into the process in preparation for her first cochlear implant.
At 11 months old she underwent the operation at Birmingham Children's Hospital in the UK. She was 'switched on' a month later, two days after her first birthday. Her first reaction was to cry, having never heard any real sounds before.
It was a wonderful, emotional time for us as a family. Over the next two years she went through an extensive speech and language therapy process. This was invaluable for all of us, as it gave us the necessary prompts and instruction to aid Olivia's hearing, speech and progress.
After much hard work on her part, as well as the therapists, teacher for the deaf and family, she began attending the local main stream school.
At the age of 6 we, as a family, decided to move Down Under to Perth, WA, to begin a new life together. One of the factors we were most apprehensive about was how Olivia would cope with the change and what support we would receive when we arrived. We need not to have worried. She began attending her local primary school where she has received excellent support from all the teaching staff and friends that she could wish for.
Although all the support was in place, it became increasingly notable that in certain situations she was struggling to hear with just one cochlear implant. It so transpired that Olivia had been recommended as a worthy candidate for her second implant, via the wonderful team at the Ear Science Institute Australia. Once again, she was evaluated over various sessions and then booked in for her operation at Joondalup Health Campus.
We were anxious leading up to the operation, but needn't have been too concerned. The staff were really wonderful and the operation was completed by a fantastic surgeon and team. After an overnight stay, Olivia was released from hospital and began her recovery process. After a month she was once again 'switched on'. Her reaction was identical to the first time.
We are extremely glad Olivia had been given the opportunity to receive the second implant, and the progress with her hearing ability becomes more evident daily.
We are so proud of our beautiful little girl and grateful to the wonderful people that have shared our journey and supported us.