ABBIE

Amy, with daughter Abbie, 3 years old

Severe to profound progressive hearing loss

"I wouldn't want to change anything. She is the most adorable little girl. She has the most incredible personality. For a little girl that can't hear, she loves to dance like nothing else. She is forever in a tutu. She doesn't need music. She must have a tune in her head. 

I'm being open minded and making sure I understand all the opinions and all the risks involved with getting a cochlear implant. I don't care if Abbie is completely deaf, cannot speak at all and has to use Sign Language. But I do worry that by being deaf it will make her more vulnerable. Deciding to get a cochlear implant is not black and white. "

Abbi is deaf. She has a profound loss in her right ear and a severe loss in her left. She is now 9 months post Cochlear Implant in the right ear and wears a hearing aid in the left.  Abbi passed the new born screening test and was finally diagnosed when she was 2 years old after I spent 12 months trying to convince someone there was an issue. Hearing aids were fitted in both ears in May 2014 and an implant in September 2015. 

I don't think it has ever been a struggle accepting Abbi’s deafness. I think because I knew before diagnoses that there was something going on there was no shock factor, but it was difficult to find services to support what I wanted for Abbi. Along the way there have been several people who have been particularly helpful and supporters of my wants for Abbi. Mainly my mum. She's supported every decision I have made even when I opted not to follow the medical opinion to implant initially. Australian Hearing Kotara and the Department of Education have also been supportive. Ali Crispin, a friend who is a speech pathologist, introduced us to key word sign which then led to Auslan. And Professor Kelvin Kong understood my choice to delay implantation until I was ready. Although he thought it was the best thing for her he didn't want to push me into it and never looked at her as broken or needing fixing. He is an amazing doctor and surgeon. 

Abigail's first language is Auslan and we started with key word sign when she was about 12 months old. To support her I have done Certificate II and Certificate III in Auslan and we also see a private tutor. The biggest challenge was finding out where and how to learn Auslan and making people (departments and services) respect the fact the we are a bilingual family. But once I found the Deaf Society of NSW everything fell into place in regards to learning Auslan and I’ve also learnt how to be the best advocate for Abbi and make sure our choices are respected. 

The hardest thing to deal with is other people and their lack of knowledge, their ignorance, and their impatience. Communication is the biggest obstacle but right now I'm here to interpret for Abbi so that works for us. I believe the bilingual approach is best. Don't let anyone tell you signing with your child is a negative. Abbi loves sign language and is happy within herself. However, since starting preschool she has had days where she doesn't want to wear her implant or hearing aid because she wants to be like the other girls.

There's never been a moment when I'm not proud of Abbi.