“No parent wants their child to be seen as different, the first reaction is to burst into tears, the second is to do everything possible to help your child”

The Shepherd Centre has been instrumental in continuing to build his confidence

After failing the NSW Statewide Infant Screening Hearing (SWISH) test at just two days old, Lachlan Sorensen was diagnosed with moderate bi-lateral hearing loss at three weeks of age. His diagnosis meant that he would have to wear hearing aids in both ears for life.

Even though there is a paternal genetic family history of hearing loss, learning of Lachlan’s diagnosis still came as a complete shock. Lachlan’s older sister Hannah does not have hearing loss and the family hoped they would receive the same news when their baby boy was born.

“No parent wants their child to be seen as different, the first reaction is to burst into tears, the second is to do everything possible to help your child,” Jessica Sorenson told Link.

At just seven weeks of age Lachlan received his first pair of hearing aids and started to attend the Shepherd Centre at 10 weeks. The family had some fears that Lachlan’s hearing loss would affect his learning, speech, socialisation and his ability to keep up with his peers.

When Lachlan was three years old his mother noticed he was a little behind in developing his listening and speech skills. The Shepherd Centre identified that this was due to ear infections and enlarged adenoids leaving him unable to receive access to full sounds and speech.

Once he received grommets, a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy he was able to recommence his fortnightly sessions at the centre, where he has been excelling and is now on par with his peers.

“The Shepherd Centre has taught us how best to help Lachlan tune into sounds. They have also been instrumental in continuing to build his confidence,” Jessica said.

While regular speech and language sessions with his speech therapist are focused on Lachlan, all the family, including his grandparents, are active in participating in Lachlan’s early intervention. This enables the whole family to fully understand how to best support him and his growth.

The tools and confidence that have been instilled in them by the centre has been especially important particularly during Covid-19 which placed new challenges on Lachlan.

However he has been able to keep up with his speech, audiology and family counselling intervention sessions thanks to telehealth, where Lachlan can continue to learn, interact and thrive. This is to ensure he is on track when he starts at ‘big school’ this year.

Earlier this year, Jessica met with NSW Disability Services Minister Gareth Ward, MP Melanie Gibbons and The Shepherd Centre CEO, Jim Hungerford to discuss the family’s experience with telehealth in audiology and early intervention. She highlighted the importance of these vital services in audiology and early intervention in ensuring the hearing needs of children across Australia are met, while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.

And Lachlan’s learning, speech and socialisation skills have certainly surpassed expectations. At five, Lachlan is a lively and vivacious chatterbox who loves his cars, Little Kickers Soccer, playing for the Illawong Marlins Tball and listening to music.

The Shepherd Centre is a NSW not-for-profit organisation specialising in early intervention to help children who are deaf and hearing-impaired develop spoken language skills. It has helped over 2000 children enter the world of sound. For more infomation visit: www.shepherdcentre.org.au

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