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Natasha's story - a unilateral loss

NatashaI think I should have known. As a mum we think we should have control over everything that involves our children - but this time I didn't.  Looking back now, so many incidents all come down to her diagnosis.

Natasha began school in 2003, we dropped her off and I walked away feeling so empty and I already missed her. She is the middle child and was different - I just couldn't put my finger on it. Was she ADHD?  Why was she such a loner and always upset so easily? She even kicked in the glass of our sliding door for no reason at all. I got a call during the day from the school asking why Natasha didn't begin her first day of school, especially since she had a sibling there already. At first I thought it was a joke and reassured them that we dropped her off, and then I worried. The school said they would re-check and call me. She was there, she just didn't respond to her name - I didn't think any more of the situation.

A few weeks later, I received a call from the district school nurse. She was concerned about Natasha's hearing and said it may have been the building work going on at the school, but to check after all. Once again, I was blasé about the situation and made a booking to see an audiologist and talked about it with my husband. But we felt all was OK. She had passed all the hearing tests during her health checks, after all.

The diagnosis

That day plays in my mind over and over. I watched my little girl stare into space as noises ran through her right ear - then she would hear in her left ear and put the marbles into slots and then stair into space again, fiddling with a marble in her hand. I remember the audiologist handing me the tissues as I sobbed. How could I not have known?

Many tests down the track - different ENT Doctors, different Audiologists - until we were happy.  All confirmed that she had Profound Sensorineural Unilateral Hearing Loss in her right ear - UHL. We still don't know why and may never know.

School and UHL

Next stage was school. I new immediately that she should go to a state school, but we were enrolled at a Catholic school already and we decided to stay. The worst news was that there was no funding for UHL children. What a blow! So I researched and put together as much as I could on Natasha's hearing loss and schooling ideas. I conversed with her teachers and the school as much as I could over the next 2 years.

In between we bought the Edulink FM System, which gave her amplification in her good ear.  I think the teacher needs to be dedicated when it comes to using these items. She struggled with her reading and writing and by year 2 she was going nowhere. The teacher didn't take in how serious it was for her to be seated correctly etc, even after we met at the beginning of the term and I instructed him on all these things. Half way through the year, one thing after another happened and we decided to send the children to a small local public school - the choice was the best we had made so far.

Natasha and siblings at snowA year on...

A year on, Natasha has had a great school report. She is a middle-of-the-range student who receives additional learning support for reading and writing. Her classroom has a Soundfield Amplification System (SAS) which we received through a grant for the school. Believe me this can be achieved anywhere, but the school must be dedicated to want these things too. Our school has been so supportive and we are applying for more grants, so eventually all classes will have the SAS System, which will benefit all children across the board.

Being involved

I too have taken an active part in the P&C Association. This way I have a inside knowledge of what is happening and I can make suggestions to the council - this is worth looking into with school. You need to be known and also you get to meet other parents, who sometimes are in worse situations than yourself.

Prior to changing schools, Natasha had low self-confidence and was extremely shy. She didn't want to involve herself in dancing or many activities. Now she plays Netball and basketball for the school. She has performed with the school dance group at various concerts and dances outside of school too. She is still shy and doesn't have a BEST FRIEND. She still lacks confidence but not as badly as before. She gets upset easily and gets frustrated. We are, however, working on all of these problems. It takes time and patience, but we will get there - I think we have come a long way so far. Natasha is a normal kid, with a bad ear - as she calls it.

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03-Dec-2015 7:34 AM (AEST)