IMAGINE what it's like to not hear anything and then to be switched on to the world.
Little Riley Kelly knows exactly how that feels.
He was only a baby when his mum Kristy was told he had profound deafness.
"It was certainly a shock at the start - especially as we were never given a reason why Riley was hearing impaired," Kristy said.
Riley was referred to Australian Hearing and received his first hearing aids at three months of age. Monthly appointments followed to assess his progress.
"At 18 months of age I noticed that Riley's speech was not developing like other children of his age and after another assessment we were referred to the Cochlear Implant Centre in Sydney.
Riley was recommended a Cochlear implant for his left ear to restore his hearing, while keeping an aid in his right ear as this still provided hearing benefit. The Cochlear surgery was a success although Kristy said the result isn't instant.
"After cochlear switch-on day, we expected he could hear, but he looked up at the audiologist as if to say 'why are you putting these weird noises in my ear?'.
"However, after four to six weeks we certainly noticed the improvement in his speech.
"Now we visit a speech therapist fortnightly in Lismore to help Riley develop his sounds. It took a while to determine what exact level of hearing loss he had and regular checks to see what level to set the hearing aids. But once we were transferred to the Audiologist closer to home things got easier."
Riley, now three years old, visits Australian Hearing Coffs Harbour, where he is under the care of specialist audiologist, Jeannette Wilson. The Centre has a customised child hearing booth for assessment and rehabilitation sessions.
"Although it has been a difficult journey at times for our family, Riley's hearing loss hasn't stopped him at all. Even after the surgery he was straight outside playing. Like most boys anything with wheels is his favourite!" said Kristy.
"He is really enjoying life and his social skills are great. He has been visiting family daycare since 12 months old and will soon start pre-school which is exciting for us all."
Australian Hearing Manager, Karina Morrison said early detection of hearing problems in children was essential.
"Undiagnosed hearing loss makes learning to speak more difficult. Children use their hearing to learn about the world around them and develop communication skills," Karina said.
"The earlier you detect hearing loss in a child, the better. Once a hearing loss is identified then treatment can start which can improve a child's ability to hear sounds and to learn and understand speech.
If you are concerned about your child's hearing contact Australian Hearing on 6652 0700.
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