By Natasha Kenney

Marc and I were so excited to start planning our family and it was the best moment of our lives when we found out I was pregnant with Amelie.

When Amelie was born, we found out she had a hearing impairment after she failed the newborn screening test.

At ten days old, an in-depth audiology test confirmed that Amelie was born profoundly deaf in both ears.

As a new mum, it was a really devastating experience. We did not know what kind of life Amelie would have and what is in store for our family. We did not know if she would ever be able to speak or read, play sports or even go to a mainstream school.

My husband Marc reached out to Hear and Say and within 20 minutes, the founder Dimity Dornan was on the phone to him asking how they could help. We were welcomed into their family immediately and so our journey began with them.

When our second child Xavier was born, he too was born deaf and there was already a well beaten path from our home to Hear and Say at Ashgrove. Our family has been attending Hear and Say for over six years now – since both Amelie and Xavier were six weeks old.

Natasha with her husband, Marc and their two children, Amelie, six and Xavier, four.

Both our children had their Cochlear Implants or ‘Magic Ears’ as we like to call them switched on at around seven months old and this is where Hear and Say’s Early Intervention Program really counts.

It is when the hardest and most crucial work of teaching your children to listen and speak starts. For the first few years we started with fortnightly Auditory Verbal Therapy appointments where I was given the tools to be able to integrate the therapy into our everyday life.

Amelie is now six years old, Xavier is four and they are just like any other hearing kid their age. They can speak, hear, interact with their peers and attend mainstream school.

Wear a bright and bold shirt on Friday October 23 for Loud Shirt Day and make some noise for kids who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Amelie is now on a maintenance program and occasionally will attend a social skills program at Hear and Say. Xavier is still attending monthly Auditory Verbal Therapy sessions and will move to a maintenance program next year.

Without Cochlear technology and Hear and Say’s Early Intervention program, the outcomes for our whole family would be vastly different. It has been a journey of so many ups and down but despite the challenges our children have faced, Marc and I are incredibly proud of what they have achieved.

Loud Shirt Day to us is a reminder that our two children were born deaf and that there is an organisation out there that has helped our children reach their full potential – giving them the gift of sound.

We encourage businesses and locals to frock up in their LOUD shirts and donate to Loud Shirt Day this October 23 so Hear and Say can continue to open worlds for kids like Amelie and Xavier.

To register or donate visit Hear and Say.

Hear and Say has been a world-leading expert in hearing technology and listening and spoken language therapy for almost 30 years.