Lily Harrod is like most children her age; energetic, playful and loves to talk.
Most people would never guess that Lily, who is almost three, was born with a hearing impairment.
Lily was born with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD), which affects the transmission of sound from the inner ear to the brain.
Some children with the disorder have difficulty distinguishing one sound from another and have trouble understanding speech.
After Lily did not pass the mandatory Statewide Infant Screening Hearing (SWISH) tests and was referred to Australian Hearing.
Her parents decided the best treatment for Lily would be to develop spoken language at Casula’s Shepherd Centre.
The charity organisation offers training programs specifically designed to teach children born deaf or hearing impaired how to develop spoken language.
‘‘It was a little bit of a shock finding out that Lily was hearing impaired but I had an inkling that something wasn’t quite right because she wouldn’t jump at loud sounds when she was in my womb,’’ Mrs Harrod said.
At six months old Lily started wearing hearing aids. After a few months, she was making limited progress.
‘‘When she had the hearing aids she started to hear things but there were times when she didn’t hear,’’ Mrs Harrod said. ‘‘She would react to some sounds but it was never enough to speak or produce words.’’
At 15 months Lily had her first cochlear implant, in her left ear. Within hours of it being switched on, Lily was able to hear and respond to sounds so clearly that it scared her.
‘‘Once the implant was turned on she cried at almost every sound,’’ Mrs Harrod said.
‘‘She cried when she heard the toilet flush and her father talk. She started making babbling noises and at therapy she was responding back to the sounds.’’
At 17 months, Lily received a cochlear implant in her right ear.
Mrs Harrod said she never thought she would be able to hear her daughter speak.
‘‘Her therapy sessions changed dramatically — it was almost instantaneously,’’ she said.
‘‘It was incredible. Within one month she was always responding to sound and was trying to form words.
‘‘You kind of forget how much of a gift it is hearing your baby make her first sounds and words until you don’t have it.’’