The first package of services for all children with hearing loss and their families. It is an intervention and direct education program providing parents and carers with the fundamental skills and knowledge they need to support their child in developing listening, speech, language and social skills with their hearing loss so they can achieve their goals, vision and potential. The program runs as a group facilitated by Child and Family Counsellors, Pediatric Audiologists and Listening and Spoken Language Specialists to create important support networks and links with other families, professionals and health providers. The knowledge and skills learnt during this program form the basis of all future intervention targets and goals.
Learn & Listen
A specialised package of services provided by a team of experienced professionals in paediatric hearing loss; Speech Pathologists (Listening & Spoken Language Therapists), Paediatric Audiologists & Child & Family Counsellors in partnership with every child’s family. It includes an annual Family Goal Setting Meeting with the family and team, an annual standardised formal communication development assessment, and diagnostic sessions based on individualised clinical goals set to support the achievement of the goals identified by the family. This package includes attendance at our weekly non enrolled Kidscape specialised early intervention group at any of our centres.
Sound Direction Plus
The Sound Direction Plus Program for children with unilateral and mild hearing loss is a package of services provided through a team approach. Families attend regular Functional Listening Checks (FLCs), sessions with their paediatric audiologist (case manager/key worker), have quarterly check ins with their speech pathologist and child and family counsellor. They have an annual Individual Family Planning meeting with their specialist team and twice-yearly speech and language screenings to monitor their child’s progress and receive tailored recommendations to improve and develop specific areas of need. The program includes facilitation of a support group and sessions with families with similar levels of hearing loss, support to access specialised Ear Nose and Throats Specialists, workshops/ information sessions & current evidence and research developments for unilateral and mild hearing loss for families to learn how to best support their listening, speech, language, literacy and social skill development and with advocacy and assistive technology. As a part of this package families are able to attend our weekly non enrolled Kidscape specialised early intervention group at any of our centres with their child or just for the parent sessions.
Connect (eLearning platform for parents and families)
The Shepherd Centre Connect links parents and therapists in an innovative, interactive online community. Programs on Connect are tailored specifically for families living a long distance from our centres, or working full-time, to provide a learning experience customised to suit families. Connect offers a new pathway into our programs, allowing access to the fundamentals of our world-renowned programs and services for children with hearing loss, in your own home, on a day and at a time that best suits your family.
Connect aims to support and upskill parents so they can in turn encourage their child’s listening and language development at home, and in their everyday environments. It also links parents with other families who may have similar experiences, or may be a step ahead on their early intervention journey, able to offer suggestions and support.
A parent group program assisting parents of children with any degree of permanent hearing loss, who are using any hearing device, in their parenting role. Kidscape allows children to spend time in a listening landscape with parents and other children and provides opportunities for parents to seek advice and support from our team of Child and Family Counsellors. A specialist playgroup designed as a social and educational opportunity for families of children who have a hearing loss, children in our Kidscape program are encouraged to participate in activities designed to stimulate listening and spoken language, and develop their play and social communication skills. Parents spend time with their children in this setting before withdrawing to participate in parent education workshops facilitated by Child and Family Counsellors and other transdisciplinary professionals. Siblings are welcome to attend with their families.
Listen for Literacy
This program supports the listening skills for literacy development for children with hearing loss in the key transition year before school. This evidence-based package of services is particularly focussed on ensuring children are developing the audition skills they need for school (listening in noisy environments like classrooms and playgrounds, listening from a distance, understanding videos, listening to loudspeakers), and working with them to develop their early reading skills through listening. A recent large scale Australian-based population study of children with hearing loss, demonstrated that the majority of these children do not develop appropriate pre-reading and literacy skills by 5 years of age despite often having age appropriate speech and language. As such, the development of these skills needs to be specifically taught and monitored in a team-based approach with speech pathologists experienced in working with children with hearing loss and the literacy and advanced listening challenges they face, with paediatric audiologists and child and family counsellors.
Confident Kids (4-5 years)
A group program for children in their final year of early intervention. It is part of the Transition to School program and aimed at helping children develop their communication skills in a social group setting.
Confident Kids will focus on developing techniques needed to improve pragmatic social skills through listening-based strategies. The development of essential social skills has been shown to be key predictors of social success as children learn how to use their language with friends. It involves a concurrent parent group led by our child and family counsellors and audiologists, with opportunities for guided observations of the children’s group. Watch the video.
Off to School
This small group program is designed to support children with hearing loss in their key transition stage from early intervention to school. The program focusses on developing pre-literacy and pre-numeracy concepts, phonological awareness and understanding of classroom vocabulary and classroom etiquette through listening in a group environment, similar to a classroom. Self-advocacy skills of independent hearing device management and talking to peers and teachers about their hearing loss and assistance they need in the classroom are addressed with children and in the concurrent parent education group.
Acoustic Skills (Music)
Acoustics Skills group sessions are designed by music therapists and delivered to children with hearing loss and their families in conjunction with clinical team members. The sessions focus on positive parent-child interaction with musical activities that provide critical listening opportunities for early learning and development across the areas of communication – listening, language acquisition and speaking skills; social interaction; cognitive learning and motor skills. Leaders integrate the use of percussion instruments along with singing of known and new songs to increase positive interactions between parents and their children, enhance child development, and increase parents’ confidence to use music for language development and play at home.
First Sounds Fundamentals (Implant evaluation and services)
This package is recommended for children going through device evaluation and not accessing a package program. The First Sounds package provides a child and their family with a core communication assessment, two family meetings with the team, four evaluation sessions, 12 post-device/implantation habilitation sessions and two consultation sessions with the team Child and Family Counsellor. This is to support the child with hearing loss in ensuring they are using the most appropriate hearing devices that provide them with optimal levels of access to sound to develop their communication skills. As a part of this package families are able to attend our weekly non-enrolled Kidscape specialised early intervention group at any of our centres with their child or just for the parent sessions.
Tuning Into Kids (Emotion Coaching)
This is a six-week group education and intervention program for parents at The Shepherd Centre. It teaches parents fundamental skills in how to guide and coach their children with hearing loss to develop emotional intelligence. A significant body of evidence indicates that children with hearing loss have delayed social skills and reduced community and society participation opportunities. Developing emotional intelligence enables children to use their knowledge of emotions to make decisions, calm and settle, manage anger and conflict, help with relationships, and understand social situations. It is recommended children and families participate in the Tuning into Kids Program where it is needed to help develop these social and self-management skills to assist their participation in their community and natural settings.
Empower Me (Extended family education workshops)
This short workshop is designed for carers and extended family members of children with any degree of permanent hearing loss, to understand hearing, the impact of hearing loss, how to support the development of communication and to facilitate participation and inclusion in their local context, community and everyday life. Developing the capacity and resilience of family members through education and knowledge on the specific needs of the child with whom they are connected, supports and empowers parents and carers in their child’s every day learning potential. Both parents can attend at no additional cost with at least one funded extended family member.
Circle of Security (For Parents)
Circle of Security is a six-week course that can help to strengthen your relationship with your child and learn how to read what your child really needs from you. The program is based on decades of attachment research, and provides relationship tools and a new way of understanding children’s needs. As parents, we all wonder if we are getting it right. Our relationship needs never disappear, and we all benefit from good, healthy relationships as children and as adults. Sometimes our children express emotions that we are uncomfortable with and we struggle to respond, and this is often based on our own experience of being parented. This program is aimed at parents with children aged 0-6 years, however the techniques will benefit parents with children of any age. As the program is run at The Shepherd Centre, a lot of the parenting strategies and conversations also incorporate aspects of parenting a child with a hearing loss. Parents are encouraged to attend all six sessions of the program. A children’s Playgroup or Kidscape group (centre dependent) will run concurrent to the parent group.
We offer small, language-rich preschool environments to support children with and without hearing loss in an integrated environment. We have two preschool facilities based at our Liverpool and Wollongong Centres. Find out more here.
Teacher Training & Professional Development Program
The Shepherd Centre is proud to offer a range of Quality Teaching Council (QTC) Registered Professional Development workshops, accredited by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), ACT Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) and internationally with the Alexander Graham Bell Academy. Our aim is to equip teachers and other professionals working with young people with hearing loss with the necessary knowledge and practical skills required to assist children with hearing loss to develop clear, age-appropriate speech, language and social skills through listening, in a variety of educational settings. For more details on how your child can be supported in the classroom environment, click here.