Jack graduated from The Shepherd Centre in 2012 and is currently in Year 2 at school. His journey at The Shepherd Centre began when he was two years old, shortly after his moderate-severe hearing loss was confirmed.
“When Jack was diagnosed I was relieved,” mum Renae explained. “Finally, the world knew what I already knew about Jack – that things were a bit different.
“I saw Jack’s diagnosis as the start of improving life with Jack. It was something that I could finally work on to make things better. “
Jack and his family attended The Shepherd Centre’s Residential Workshop for rural and remote families for a week in January 2010, before commencing weekly therapy sessions. After receiving bilateral cochlear implants, and undergoing intensive one-on-one speech therapy, Jack’s listening and language skills improved dramatically.
“Now, Jack sounds really, really good,” Renae said. “Most people don’t know that he’s deaf just by listening to his voice. It’s not until they see the implants that they realise.”
Renae recalls feeling nervous on Jack’s Graduation day; scared to leave the support and structure of The Shepherd Centre behind, scared about how she would cope and scared that Jack would not progress. However, the transition to school turned out to be quite smooth for Jack, and Renae’s worries proved unwarranted.
“Jack is a very social child, which helped when he started at ‘big school’,” she said. “His outgoing nature really makes life easy. He plays with all the other kids and just generally wants to interact with others.”
Jack is thriving at his school – even winning the Year 1 award for English last year! – and gets quite upset if he doesn’t get 100 per cent on his weekly spelling tests. Given his love of English, it’s not a surprise that he also has a passion for reading.
“I love listening to him read each night with his home reader, it’s one of the highlights of my day,” Renae explains. “To think that at 2 years and 11 months, I thought Jack would never talk, let alone read, and now he does it with such ease. He even puts on different voices for each character! It’s amazing.”
Renae’s advice to other parents about to embark on the ‘big school’ journey is to take an active role in your child’s school life, to help educate your child’s peers and educators about their hearing loss.
“I feel it’s my duty to make as many people aware of hearing impairment as possible, as maybe it will help them to think twice before getting frustrated that Jack can’t hear something,” she said.