‘We lived in Gunnedah,’ says Rosie, ‘a town of just 10,000 people. And my parents had no knowledge of any organisations that helped children who were hearing-impaired. It was 25 years ago and extremely hard to seek out information. The doctors they consulted had no information at all and they found that extremely distressing. It wasn’t until a family friend who was a pharmacist mentioned he knew Bruce Shepherd that my parents felt any sort of relief.’ Her smile lights up, remembering, ‘that was the day that changed my life forever.’
While Rosie’s parents were determined to give her the same opportunities as her older sisters, there were some doubts after that first contact with The Shepherd Centre.
‘They were filled with hope, impressed with the staff and trusted them,’ says Rosie. ‘But they couldn’t help wondering if it was actually going to work. Would I really be able to hear and talk? Could I really be integrated into the hearing world? Would I have the same opportunities as my sisters?’ Those fears were quickly allayed. Rosie was fitted with hearing aids and the lessons began.
‘The intensive week my parents spent at Sydney University’s International House was invaluable for them,’ Rosie says. ‘They were given tuition on how to help deliver the program to me and they learnt a lot from incredibly knowledgeable speakers like Anne Fulcher and Professor Gibson. The reassurance given to us by the staff was of particular importance when the going got tough,’ Rosie recalls.
‘The staff were incredibly supportive and encouraged my family all the way. We had to do our homework and put in the hard yards ourselves. I remember every afternoon I would sit at my little desk at home and practice my sounds, letters – anything to do with language and speech development. I believe this was instrumental in what I’ve achieved and how far I’ve come and I’m pretty proud of it.’
You can read more of our success stories in our beautiful hard-cover book, Changing the Story, produced to commemorate our 50th anniversary.