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Get Loud (Shirt) Day 2016

Wendy Johnson

On Friday 21 October, Clare Steve wants you to get loud for her son Oliver. Here’s why…

Oliver was only a few days old when Clare and Anthony discovered something was wrong. As her happy family was leaving the hospital to settle in at home, the hospital performed a mandatory SWISH test. Oliver didn’t pass.

At first, it wasn’t an urgent cause for concern since up to 30 percent of newborns fail the state-wide infant screening hearing test for a range of ‘normal’ reasons. But Oliver failed four tests over 22 days and after extensive testing at the Canberra Hospital, Oliver was diagnosed as having profound hearing loss in one ear and severe hearing loss in the other.

“Our baby was perfect other than that he couldn’t hear,” says Clare. “Lots of babies have worse problems, so we were lucky that way. But we knew Oliver would need to live and cope in a hearing world. We wanted him to live a normal life.”

The SWISH test was one of many that Oliver, who is now two, has been through. The extent of Oliver’s hearing loss meant that his only option was cochlear implants.

Oliver and Mum after the surgery

Clare and Anthony then set about to find the best treatment options for their son. They were put in contact with several agencies one of which was the Canberra Shepherd Centre. Clare said that she knew that The Shepherd Centre was the best option for their family from their first meeting. They guided the family through each stage of the process to get implants as well as providing them contact details of other families to talk to who have been through similar experiences.

After an agonising wait for test results to come through, Oliver underwent four-and-a-half hours of implant surgery in Sydney and Oliver was literally ‘switched on’ five days after the surgeons had finished their complex and delicate work.

While there’s still a lot to do, including daily intensive audio-verbal therapy (people with cochlears have to be taught how to hear), Oliver will live his life without having to rely on sign language.

One thing Clare knows is that her family is travelling through this journey thanks to the support of many experts, including audiologists and speech pathologists.

Clare is very vocal about the amazing and kind support the Steves’ continue to receive from The Shepherd Centre, which works tirelessly in Canberra to give deaf children a voice.

On Friday 21 October everyone at The Shepherd Centre will get loud – they want you do so too – by hosting your very own Loud Shirt Day, an annual event that helps the not-for-profit charitable organisation raise much-needed funds for its early intervention programs and services to children who are deaf and hearing impaired.

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Loud Shirt Day you ask?

Yup. This is your excuse to wear your brightest, most colourful and even most garish clothes—stripes, florals, polka dots or paisley—and raise money for The Shepherd Centre’s important work.

You can participate on your own or organise a fundraising activity such as a morning tea, lunch, fashion show, walk or some form of get together, with everyone wearing clothing with colour and pizzazz.

All you have to do is register online. The Loud Shirt Day folks will then send you a kit, including posters, to help you along. All funds raised will stay in the ACT.

“It costs about $18,000 a year to give Oliver the speech therapy he needs and provides family members with the support they need to help,” says Clare,

While the official date for Loud Shirt Day 2016 is Friday 21 October, you can choose another date if that suits you better.

Get as wild and crazy as you’d like. Flashiest frock competition perhaps? Hawaiian shirt raffle? Whatever you do get loud, have fun, raise funds and help deaf kids tell their mums and dads that they love them.

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HOW DO COCHLEAR IMPLANTS WORK?

A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.

It has two parts. An internal part called the cochlear implant and an external part called a speech processor.

The speech processor uses two small microphones to pick up sounds. It turns those sounds into signals and sends them to a transmitter.

The transmitter sends the signals through the skin to the internal implant, which then converts the coded signals into electrical energy and sends them to the electrode array. This stimulates the nerve fibres in the cochlea and the signals are recognised by the brain as sound.

KEEP UP WITH LOUD SHIRT DAY

Website: loudshirtday.com.au
Facebook: facebook.com/LoudShirtDayAustralia
Instagram: instagram.com/LoudShirtDay
Twitter: twitter.com/LoudShirtDayAus
Pinterest: pinterest.com/loudshirtday

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson graduated with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, a few decades ago. She’s been living in Australia since 1995, having fallen in love with eucalypt trees and kangaroos. Wendy is passionate about Canberra and all the nation’s capital has to offer. She loves to write (about everything and anything) and owns her own pr and advertising business. More about the Author

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