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Vital Support along the journey

Ten year old Ziggy and five year old Hussein are both profoundly deaf. Their nineteen year old brother is hard of hearing.

Their family is very supportive and loving but they experienced significant communication barriers.

Thankfully, the situation started to improve after Ziggy and Hussein connected up with Deaf Children Australia’s (DCA’s)
youth support worker Matthew, and they received assistance from family support worker Janaki. The family also attended
DCA’s Family Camp.

Ziggy is feeling so much more independent now “Three of the eight children are deaf or hard of hearing”

The boys’ mum Mona and older sister Nahida explained:

When Hussein was born, he also passed the newborn hearing screening test but was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at one year and nine months.

“In our family, three of the eight children are deaf or hard of hearing. The oldest son has had difficulty with low frequency sounds since he was little.

And then Ziggy passed the newborn hearing screening test but when he was two years old, he was crying a lot and he had so many fevers. Ziggy was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at the age of three and got hearing aids. Then when he was four years old, he got a cochlear implant. He missed out on government funded Early Intervention Support and needed to repeat kinder to help him develop his language skills and prepare for school. We tried grommets but his hearing still got worse. Hussein’s hearing loss is more severe than Ziggy’s so we decided to give him bilateral cochlear implants (on both sides). Even though he was diagnosed much younger, Hussein’s hearing loss has impacted him more than Ziggy’s. Hussein received Early Intervention Support but he has always struggled with developing any form of language – spoken or sign.”

“After camp, we felt more confident about what they’re capable of achieving” “Our family was referred to Deaf Children Australia last year and their support has been beautiful. Both boys connect with Matthew really strongly but the bond between Ziggy and Matthew is particularly special.

Ziggy found it challenging to change to a mainstream school for the start of Grade Four this year but Matthew has really helped him. Ziggy is the only deaf child at his new school and it was taking him a little while to make friends. The first term was a bit of a struggle but with DCA’s support, his confidence has grown so much since then. The Family Camp in April was perfect timing for Ziggy. His self-esteem really grew and he has matured.

Now, Ziggy has friends at school and is doing much better in the classroom. Although he was scared about doing things on his own before, now he is confident enough with his communication skills to walk to the shop and buy milk on his own. Those steps towards independence make him feel so good.

Hussein is in four year old kinder and since the camp, he has come a long way with his behaviour and his Auslan. He is also making a significant effort to improve his spoken language. We had big challenges with the boys before but after but after camp, we have felt more confident about what they’re capable of achieving. We understand now that we need to have the same expectations of them as we do of our other children. Janaki has been helping us understand their needs better and develop strategies to improve their behaviour.

Seeing how happy they were signing with other children and adults on camp, we realised how important it was for us to learn more Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Janaki has been providing so much advice and helping us learn Auslan through DCA’s CommuniCate kit and other resources.”

“Hussein would rely on big brother Ziggy to interpret for him” “Before, Hussein would hold our hands and lead us to what he wanted. Or he would try using gestures and mime – or rely on his big brother Ziggy to interpret for him. Hussein didn’t have a lot of words or Auslan.

Now as his communication is improving, he is getting less frustrated, and we understand each other better.

We hope that we will be able to build our Auslan skills more through the Auslan for Families program and Auslan tutors in our home. We also hope to go to more school holiday programs where we can reconnect with friends from camp – like we did recently.

We feel family life is a lot easier now. Everything is more equal between Ziggy and Hussein and our other children. We’re not so scared for them anymore because we feel more confident about what they can achieve.”