Centre lends Damon helping hand

DAMON Stewart is a livewire despite being born deaf and he moves quickly around the family lounge room, picking up toys, playing with them and interacting with the adults.

His mum Michelle hopes he'll be able to go to a mainstream school with the assistance of the Hear and Say Centre which is helping to teach the Hervey Bay two-year-old to listen and talk.

“I don't think Damon would be where he's at now if it wasn't for the centre,” she said.

Michelle said he had a couple of issues holding him back with his speech but they were working on overcoming them.

Hear and Say's key focus is early intervention and with the right technology and timing, they can teach deaf children to talk “just like you and I unless there are other complications”, according to visiting Brisbane-based auditory-verbal therapist Natalie Comas.

She said hearing aids could be fitted to babies as young as four weeks old and Cochlear implants could be fitted to six month olds.

Since February last year, Michelle and her husband Darian have been part of the charity's outreach program, which includes weekly online therapy and planning sessions with Natalie, boxes of resources refreshed each month and twice-a-year home visits.

Michelle and Darian were attracted to the program because it would teach Damon without lip reading or signing.

Natalie said it cost about $10,000 a year for each child to go through the program and the Queensland-wide charity had to raise $2.5 million a year to deliver its services.

Mining group Xstrata has partnered with Hear and Say.



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