Loud shirts help­ing kids hear

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Karen Kotze

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.

Photo: AMELIA JA­COB­SEN

Hear to stay: Young Kate Wal­lace and her mum Shel­ley sing and read to­gether. Hav­ing a cochlear im­plant has re­stored Kate’s hear­ing.

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