Henry's Story

Henry starts school with top language skills

Loud Shirt Day is all about raising money for deaf and hearing impaired Kiwi kids – just like Henry.

Henry Optican is five years old and started at Mt Eden Normal Primary School on August 1. He has cochlear implants in both ears and came to The Hearing House in Auckland to learn to listen and speak.


Henry’s parents Scott Optican and Claire Campbell say their son’s progress since his first cochlear implant was switched on when he was a year-and-a-half-old has been “fantastic”.


“With the support of The Hearing House, Greenlane audiology and Henry’s caregivers, his receptive and expressive language is well beyond his chronological age,” Scott says. “And along with increased language ability, has come really strong cognitive ability.”


“We are absolutely confident that - both in terms of language and cognitively - Henry is well capable of dealing with a mainstream school just like any other 5-year-old in New Zealand.


“We are delighted that his deafness has not held back his entry to school in any way.”


However, Scott and Claire say they were “somewhat concerned” about how Henry’s deafness might impact him at school.


“It still might to some degree – we don't know for sure. However, there are lots of things that impact kids learning at school,” Scott says.


“We have no reason to think that Henry’s deafness will pose any particular problem. But if we find that it is causing him some difficulty, we will take steps to deal with it – just like any parent would when something makes it harder for the child to learn or adapt to a school environment.”


It’s only been a month, but Scott says Henry made the transition from preschool to school “just fine”.


“In fact, he has started to teach us lessons he is learning at school at home — and he insists that we participate in his ‘class’!”


Scott and Claire say the staff at Henry’s school have been great. They met with the deputy principal and Henry’s teachers to review potential issues, brief them on how cochlear implants work, and show them how to use the wireless device which Henry’s teacher wears around her neck to ensure her voice is projected at a constant volume into Henry’s cochlear implants.


Henry is clearly enjoying all the new learning experiences. He says his favourite thing about school is when it is time to do maths.


And since he’s been at school he’s learnt “how to write stories about me and how to write my name so they know it’s mine”.


Henry was diagnosed with bilateral moderate to severe hearing loss after new born hearing screening prompted further investigation. He received hearing aids shortly joining The Hearing House family in September 2012.


Further assessments showed he needed cochlear implants and he received one in his right ear in February 2014 and in his left ear in June 2015.


As a youngster Henry attended Joyce Fisher Preschool – The Hearing House preschool that caters for hearing impaired, and hearing children.


Henry, known at The Hearing House for his inquisitive nature, loves to learn and has a knack for seeking more information and asking questions to get a better understanding of something.


His auditory-verbal therapist says Henry’s speech and language abilities are well above the expected age range across all areas of language.


Scott and Claire say they are immensely grateful for the support provided by The Hearing House and all of its staff. And they firmly support Loud Shirt Day in return.


“Loud Shirt Day is the most significant, annual public outreach and fundraising event organised by The Hearing House. It gets the message out regarding the great successes that have been achieved with deaf children in New Zealand. It is crucially important for all persons who care about the future of those children to organise, be involved and show their support.  Only with continued involvement from families and the community will Loud Shirt Day be a success.”

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