Loud shirts helping kids hear
Pulling out that wild wacky shirt from the back of the wardrobe this month is going to benefit hearing impaired children like Kate Wallace.
The annual Loud Shirt Day on September 18 will raise money for deaf and hearing-impaired children who have cochlear implants.
The implants open these children to the world of conversation.
Loud shirt day is open to schools and businesses and sees people throw away their usual dress rules and don their loudest, brightest shirt.
Those taking part make a donation and stickers can be sold to people not wearing a loud shirt.
Kate, whose second birthday is two days before Loud Shirt Day, is one of the children who will benefit.
Her mum Shelley says Kate went profoundly deaf in her right ear and severely deaf in her left after an unexplained fever in December last year.
“We took her for a routine immunisation shot for measles, mumps and rubella on December 16. Within days she developed a high fever and weird blotchy rash,” Mrs Wallace says.
“By Christmas she was still sick. She’d been a really vocal and busy child who knew about 10 words and recognised many more, but she just became limp and floppy. She stopped talking and walking and just lay there.”
The Wallaces, from Golflands, took their daughter to five doctors over a sixweek period, but there were no conclusive diagnosis for the cause of her fever, and meningitis was ruled out.
“Eventually she started coming back, eating and walking again, but she wouldn’t speak. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what.
“She’d just sit quietly all day, play and not say anything. Before, when our dogs barked she’d say ‘woof woof’ or when I jingled my keys she’d jump up and get her shoes because she knew we were going out,” Mrs Wallace says.
The pivotal moment came when her parents put her to bed and then purposely bashed and crashed pots and pans as loud as they could to test her hearing. She didn’t stir.
So began their journey to find help for Kate. There were specialists, tests, hearing-aid trials, therapies and eventually, the decision to have cochlear implants.
“The Hearing House is phenomenal. They have been solid support from the very beginning.
“We also fundraised for one of her implants, and had such wonderful support from people who didn’t even know us. It was an amazing thing to experience,” Mrs Wallace says.
Kate has adjusted beautifully to the implants. She runs about making noises all the time, has a growing vocabulary, identifies animals from her favourite books and giggles freely.
“Seeing her now, it’s hard to believe it ever happened,” Mrs Wallace says.
Loud Shirt Day is run by two independent charities – the Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Paediatric Programme. To donate or for more information, see www.loudshirtday. co.nz.
Hear to stay: Young Kate Wallace and her mum Shelley sing and read together. Having a cochlear implant has restored Kate’s hearing.