‘She didn’t pass her first SWISH (Statewide Infant Screening-Hearing) test,’ recalls Karen. ’We had the test another two times and were told Beatrice might be deaf. We had to wait three weeks before going to the Children’s Hospital where we were told her hearing was okay but to keep an eye on it with regular checks, which we did. But the results were always inconclusive. Then when Beatrice turned four, she got grommets and it was only then we learned she had permanent bilateral hearing loss.’
Early intervention was a little late for Beatrice but her parents managed to get her enrolled at The Shepherd Centre before she started school.
‘She had almost a year at the Centre,’ Karen remembered. ‘She went straight into the Confident Kids course and midway through the year she began weekly individual Auditory-Verbal Therapy sessions with Aleisha Davis. It was actually a really beautiful introduction to the Centre because there was a real sense of community. Everyone knew us. Billy was embraced as much as Beatrice.’
‘Billy’s my little brother,’ says Beatrice keen to get back into the conversation. He loves the play area.’
‘Yes, he does, doesn’t he,’ Karen replies. ‘There was no history of hearing loss in the family and no known cause for Beatrice’s hearing loss so it was really daunting at first. But when we came here to The Shepherd Centre they normalised the experience.’
You can read more of our success stories in our beautiful hard-cover book, Changing the Story, produced to commemorate our 50th anniversary.