A STATEWIDE program for children with hearing loss, launched this month, has been touted as the State's most ambitious hearing implant program for children.
EnginEars is a partnership between the School of Special Education Needs: Sensory and Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA), with funding provided by a three-year $286,000 State Government social enterprise fund grant.
The program aims to help babies, children and teenagers with hearing loss, offering hearing implant options, as well as a suite of services to cater for cognitive, social, emotional and physical development in Subiaco, Padbury and Hamilton Hill.
Stirling teenager Joe Turner (16) is one of many young people to access the services.
Joe lost his hearing after suffering meningitis, receiving his first Cochlear implant when he was three years old and his second six years later.
The Trinity College student has always attended mainstream schools and receives additional support from a WA Institute of Deaf Education visiting teacher.
He believes the program will be beneficial to other children with hearing loss.
‘It would’ve helped me a lot when I was little and is it going to help them? Absolutely,’ he said.
Joe’s mum Caroline said that while her son continued to excel, especially as a member of Trinity’s rowing and debating teams, it had been reassuring to know the services were available if they needed them.
‘All of the support is under one main umbrella, that’s a huge benefit,’ she said.
ESIA Hearing Implant Centre manager Gemma Upson said the program meant children would not have to move between different systems.
‘The difference the children are going to see is that it’s a one-stop shop, they can come to one organisation and receive services from the multi-disciplinary team, so we have surgeons, speech pathologists, implant audiologists, educational audiologists, psychologists, teachers of the deaf, all within one program,’ she said.
‘Children can access all those services and not have to travel to three different places over the metropolitan area.
‘It will have a big impact.’ Ms Upson said the vision for EnginEars was clear.
‘I’d love to see a really straightforward, easy process for families, they have enough to deal with ” finding out that their child is hearing impaired is a big enough deal; we want to make the process as easy for them as possible and get children into amazing young adults like Joe,’ she said.
‘Just to have the children really live the life that they want to live and reach their full potential, that’s what we want to see at the end of it.’