Catching deafness in children early on can – and does – make a world of difference to their lives, Mayor Mark Jamieson learned today (Nov 19).
Visiting Nambour’s Hear and Say Centre in Windsor Road, Mayor Jamieson met four-year-old Robert Power of Mooloolah and his mum Olivia, during a therapy session for Robert, who has a mild hearing impairment.
Hear and Say screens children for hearing problems and designs therapy to assist children – and parents – to prepare for the school system.
“Once upon a time, hearing impairment was picked up so late, children would have far greater challenges in developing regular speech and understanding,” the Mayor said.
“Now, with cochlear implant technology and infant testing, these children can join mainstream classes at preparatory or primary level on an equal footing with other kids.”
Hear and Say CEO Chris McCarthy said new-born screenings picked up about 70% of hearing impairment cases, while another 30% were discovered as progressive deafness cases, and cochlear implants had changed the landscape in dealing with child hearing issues.
“Cochlear implants were invented in 1981, but were only used with children from 1991,” he said.
Mayor Jamieson heard between 65 and 200 children are born each year in Queensland with some type of hearing impairment.
“I am immensely impressed by the work Hear and Say is doing here in Nambour, and I would urge everyone to consider donating to this worthy cause,” he said.
“While Hear and Say receives some government funding, it saves more than half a million dollars annually in public money due to reducing the need for special education,” Mayor Jamieson said.