The gift of speech and sound is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, and Oxley’s mom, Kaitlyn D’Ambrogio, knows it better than anyone.
Her 16-month-old son Byron suffers from hearing loss and is supported by the leading children’s charity, The shepherds center, whose services help children like Byron have an equal and bright future.
âWe found out that Byron had hearing loss while in hospital and failed the newborn screening tests. They got us to do them four times before we were sent for further testing, and that’s when he was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, âMs. D’Ambrogio said.
âWe were a little shocked because we just weren’t expecting it and it was so small, so we weren’t sure if it was going to be associated with other issues. It took a little while to process. “
The first four weeks of Byron’s life were filled with uncertainty. How serious is his hearing loss? What can he hear? What can’t he hear? Will there be any associated issues in the future?
But with the guidance and support of the Shepherd Center, they have a better understanding of what Byron’s hearing loss means to him and his family.
âWe started at the Shepherd Center when he was about four months old, and we had a lot of questions about his hearing loss and what options we should be taking. We weren’t sure whether to give her hearing aids or just watch and wait, and they didn’t push us one way or the other, but helped us understand both options, âMs. D said. ‘Ambrogio.
“I guess the interesting thing about the decision to buy him hearing aids is that everyone said they could see the difference in him as soon as he got them, and it was all helped by the Shepherd Center . “
Byron and her older brother Tarquin, three and a half, have become good friends now, and she said they’ve really started playing together.
âHaving Byron compared to Tarquin wasn’t much different actually, other than navigating hearing aid use,â Ms. D’Ambrogio said.
“We are probably more aware of how our surroundings might affect his hearing ability.”
When asked what she hopes for Byron’s future, she becomes silent for a moment.
“That’s a good question,” she reflects.
“We would just hope and love that he had access to the same experiences as everyone else, I guess.”
This is why the services and support of the Shepherd Center are crucial for families like Byron’s; hence the Centre’s tireless efforts to educate hard of hearing children, including fundraisers like Loud shirt day.
âIt has been such a great source of community and of introducing children to other children with different levels of hearing loss, and of having this support from others,â Ms. D’Ambrogio said.
“The Shepherd Center helps kids start school with the same functional listening skills as other kids, but awareness is just as important as ever and fundraising days like Loud Shirt Day.”
#LoudShirtDay is Friday October 22, and all Australians are encouraged to wear their brightest clothes to raise funds for the Shepherd Center to continue its important work with hearing impaired children.
âThe four of us have matching ‘strong’ shirts and in my physiotherapy business we wear them all week,â Ms. D’Ambrogio said.
To find out how to get involved and support #LoudShirtDay, visit Loudshirtday.com.au
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