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January 25, 2005

School a special time for James

From: Redland Bayside Bulletin, Australia - Jan 25, 2005

By Jessica Marszalek
Tuesday, 25 January 2005

STARTING Year 1 is a daunting experience for most children, but hopefully for James and Dean, starting Year 1 with their best friend will make it all a little easier.

Although a year apart, brothers James (6)and Dean (5) grew up like twins, and yesterday started year one together at Mt Cotton State Primary School.

At just four months old, James was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears and later received a cochlear implant when he was 20 months old.

Mother Lisa said the cochlear implant had been switched on on the day of Dean's first birthday so the two had grown up learning to speak together.

From diagnoses, James attended a charity organisation called The Hear and Say Centre which specialises in teaching young deaf children how to listen and speak through one on one listening and language therapy.

Lisa said Dean had participated along with James in his speech exercises and his first words had been from the speech tapes.

"They really developed together. At home they play together and basically they grew up together," she said.

"They're pretty much peas in a pod."

She said both children had been excited about starting school and had been eagerly anticipating their big day together, trying their uniforms on and talking about how they would soon be able to read and write.

"Dean especially can't wait to learn how to read," she said.

Lisa said it was a very special day for her and husband Ian having James start his first day of school at a mainstream school.

"Having a child start Year 1 in a mainstream school is a milestone for any parent, but when your child is profoundly deaf, it is a dream come true," Lisa said.

"We are so excited for James.

"He will learn how to read and write, add and subtract and all other aspects about education and life alongside his new friends with confidence and strength of character that will... see him through any obstacles ahead.

"His best friend and younger brother, Dean, will be with him every step of the way as well."

Hear and Say Centre Clinical Manager Emma Rushbrooke said the cochlear implant technology meant that the majority of hearing impaired children, even those with significant hearing losses, were able to learn to listen and could hear all the sounds that were important for learning to speak.

She said as incredible as the technology was, it was parents and family that made the real difference.

"This is not an instant process as the technology alone is not sufficient - it is the listening and language therapy coupled with the technology that enables this incredible process," she said.

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