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April 5, 2007

Sounds like play time

From: Bendigo Weekly, Australia - Apr 5, 2007

By Sue Turpie
A Bendigo mum has formed a playgroup for hearing impaired children

A BENDIGO mother has started up a playgroup for hearing impaired children.

Andrea Floyd has taken it upon herself to set up a suitable group in which her son, Jacob, can interact with other children who are hearing impaired.

Since the playgroup was announced other families have shown interest in taking part and Andrea hopes as the word spreads more will become involved.

“We’ve had at least four phone, which for this area is fantastic,” Andrea said.

Jacob has had two cochlear implants and the family travels to Melbourne each week to attend a cochlear implant clinic.

Andrea said one in 1000 children were born hearing impaired but for specialist treatment the family has had to rely on services in the city.

“It’s a very specialised surgery,” she said.

Habilitation is vital to ensure a child progresses correctly after surgery, which Andrea said was very labour intensive.

“There is a habilitation program in which they learn to hear and then learn spoken language.”

But the program is not the only place in which the children can benefit.

“They learn best through play,” Andrea said, which is why she is set to start a Bendigo playgroup for hearing impaired children.

While there is help offered in the region, there is only “one poor busy lady for the Mallee services” who visits people’s homes.

“From a parent’s perspective this is an opportunity in which we can provide an environment which is rich in language, having fun and mixing with children with cochlear implants.”

The playgroup will also give parents the chance to network with others in a similar situation.

“Our son is two and-a-half, and until this year he had trouble mixing with other children because he was prone to

infections. This year his health’s

improving. Lots of children his age – even non-deaf children – get ear infections, but with the implants there’s a higher risk of infection.

“The medical recommendation we had was to take him out of childcare last year.

“For hearing impaired children they need an accoustically-suitable environment that’s sensitive to their hearing needs.”

Andrea said unnecessary noise, such as background music, was not conductive to an environment which helped the children.

“We just use our voices when we’re singing and there’s particular requirements for hearing impaired children.

“The room has to be carpeted so there’s not a lot of reverberation.”

Those involved in the playgroup have sought advice from experts to ensure they create the perfect environment.

“This has been the biggest learning journey for us,” Andrea said.

The playgroup will be held at the Helen Jesson Centre in Cook Street on the first Wednesday of each month.

For information on joining the group phone Andrea on 5443-0626.

© 2007 Bendigo Weekly