Team of support makes Otis’ transition to school easier.
Otis Smith is taking his hearing loss in his stride. “It may not be normal to us but it is all he has known,” say his parents Damien and Colette. The cheeky four-year-old has full hearing loss in his left ear and moderate loss in his right ear. He wears a cochlear implant and a hearing aid to enable him to learn to listen and speak. Otis has Congenital CMV, or Cytomegalovirus. The virus can be passed from the mother to the unborn child before birth. The effects of CMV vary from child to child, and among other things can lead to hearing and sight impairments and developmental problems. Otis was fitted with a hearing aid in his right ear when he was one and a half and then the discussions around his left ear began. “We were given all options and knew that the cochlear implant would give him the best access to sound along with the hearing aid in his other ear. It was an easy decision. “We were told that a single implant was not funded [by the government] and costs $50,000. That was a shock but we wouldn’t let anything stop us getting the absolute best for Otis.” (Currently the government only funds cochlear implants for severe to profound hearing losses in both ears.) The Smiths began fundraising and gathered the money in eight weeks.
It was at this point that Otis became part of The Hearing House family. Otis had his cochlear implant surgery in November 2016 when he was 2 and a half years old and ever since he’s “really enjoyed wearing his ‘ears’”. Therapy sessions at The Hearing House were all about giving the family the tools to continue listening and language techniques at home with Otis. “It never seemed like hard work as it was always incorporated in play or meal times. He made huge progress each week and made us proud. We are very lucky to have access to the services at The Hearing House.” Otis starts Buckland School on July 22. “We had a great team of professionals around us helping with his transition and making sure he has access to the help he needs. His introduction into school would have been much harder and he definitely would have needed full-time support.”
Colette is confident that Otis will adjust well to school life. “We will always find ways for him to achieve everything he desires. If he wants to play a sport where his ears may get in the way….we will find a way.” The Smiths say Loud Shirt Day is an important fundraiser. “Without the funding we wouldn’t have been able to access the amazing support of The Hearing House. It is such a valuable service that I cannot imagine being on this journey without. “Helping to raise funds is always a lot of fun so we make as much effort as possible to get our friends and family involved. “This year will be even easier with our own poster boy!”