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Riley rides the soundwaves

A routine hearing test diagnosed first-time mother Kristy’s newborn son, Riley, with hearing loss. Further tests at a Newcastle hospital revealed he was profoundly deaf. 
This news took some adjustment.  
It was certainly a shock at the start, especially as we were never given a reason for Riley’s hearing loss, Kristy remembers. 

Unexpected diagnosis 

Kristy had worked with children for years in the childcare industry but had no experience of children with hearing loss. 
Riley was referred to Hearing Australia and received his first hearing aids at three months old. 
It was the initial step in Riley’s journey into the world of sound and monthly appointments followed. 
When he was 18 months old, I noticed Riley’s speech was not developing like that of other children his age, says Kristy. 
After another assessment we were referred to the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre. 

Getting the implant 

Riley received a cochlear implant for his left ear while he kept using a hearing aid in his right ear. Although the surgery was a success, Kristy says the result wasn’t instant. 
She was expecting Riley to be able to hear straight away when the cochlear implant was switched on. Instead, she recalls Riley looking at the audiologist with a puzzled expression, as if to say, Why are you putting these weird noises into my ear? 
However, after four to six weeks we certainly noticed the improvement in his speech, Kristy says. 
It took a while to determine his exact level of hearing loss, and regular checks to see what level to set the hearing aids. 

All the difference 

Riley regularly visits Hearing Australia's Coffs Harbour, along with working with speech therapist fortnightly to help him develop his sounds. The difference is remarkable. 

He's also like most other kids his age, obsessed with any toy with wheels.  
Although it has been a difficult journey at times for our family, Riley’s hearing loss hasn’t stopped him at all. Even after the surgery he was straight outside playing, says Kirsty. 

He’s really enjoying life and his social skills are great. He has been visiting family day care since he was 12 months old and will soon start preschool, which is exciting for us all.” 

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