Lauren Gleeson knows first-hand what it’s like to raise a child with hearing loss.

Now four years-old, her daughter Arlo was born prematurely with sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, due to large vestibular aqueduct syndrome (LVAS).

Little Arlo was born with significant hearing loss.

“We had some pregnancy scares and complications along the way, so when Arlo was born at just 30 weeks, I was really worried.”

Lauren and Arlo were flown to the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, where Arlo was born, from their hometown of Port Macquarie, and went straight into NICU, where they stayed for 10 days.

“We’ve got a feisty girl here”, said one of the nurses when Arlo was born. She has always been full of life and a determined spirit despite her challenges.

At seven weeks old, Arlo did her SWISH test, the New South Wales state-wide infant screening test that checks a newborn’s hearing. The results confirmed Arlo had significant hearing loss.

“It was really gutting”, said Lauren. “It was unknown territory and it was all happening before Arlo’s due date”.

The family received amazing support from hospitals in both Newcastle and Port Macquarie. Back at the John Hunter, Lauren met Joanne Oliver who is a baby hearing clinic coordinator and social worker, who she refers to as the family’s “fairy godmother”. Natalie booked all of the family’s crucial early intervention appointments and connected them with NextSense (formerly Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children).

Fiesty little Arlo has is overcoming her hearing challenges thanks to her implant.

“Our fairy godmother got us connected immediately, explaining to us how and why early intervention is so important”, Lauren explained.

Arlo soon received a hearing aid in her left ear and due to the more profound hearing loss in her right ear, it was decided that a cochlear implant was the best course of action. Thanks to NextSense, Australia’s largest charity for people of all ages with hearing and vision loss, Arlo soon received a cochlear implant.

In March 2018, Arlo underwent surgery through the NextSense Cochlear Implant Service.

Lauren Gleeson knows first-hand what it’s like to raise a child with hearing loss.

A few weeks later, her all-important switch on moment happened in Port Macquarie, her hometown. While it wasn’t like the video moments you see on Facebook and YouTube, it was still amazing.

“I said her name and her eyes widened,” Lauren remembers. There was no screaming or crying, she just went still, taking it all in.”

Each day was a new learning curve. “We tried new fashion accessories to help keep the implant connected and on Arlo’s head. Bonnets and headbands really helped Arlo get used to the sensation of having her processors on at all times.”

Arlo is currently in her second year at preschool and Lauren says she’s loving it. “Arlo loves showing the other kids her implants and explaining how they work.”

Before receiving a cochlear implant, Arlo was supported by NextSense via a teleschool service with weekly Skype sessions. Her speech pathologist ensured Arlo was staying on track.

“I wanted to share my story because when Arlo was diagnosed, I looked for ‘real life’ stories that I could relate to and might help me through”, said Lauren.

That early advice and intervention has been crucial in Arlo’s development.

“I’m so grateful for the technology that NextSense was able to provide. Cochlear implants are what have enabled Arlo to thrive and we couldn’t be happier with her progress.”