LOUD shirts are not just a fashion statement for the Warren family, whose firstborn son Ted was diagnosed with profound bilateral hearing loss just two days after being born.
The Warren family, from Moonah, has experienced first-hand support from the Shepherd Centre – a national service for children with hearing impairments – and are now giving back by supporting the Centre’s ‘Loud Shirt Day’ fundraiser.
Following Ted’s diagnosis, the Warren family began its search for support to ensure that Ted was receiving the best possible care and opportunity.
Mr Warren said given his diagnosis, the first year of Ted’s life had meant the family had many other things to think about.
“It hasn’t just been about changing nappies with Ted, it’s also been about changing batteries in his cochlear implants and attending appointments,” he said.
“It’s added a bit more to an already fairly tricky journey for us, being first-time parents.”
Mr Warren said the Shepherd Centre had given the whole family the support and knowledge needed following Ted’s diagnosis.
“Much of Ted’s progress and development is thanks to the support we have and continue to receive from the Shepherd Centre,” he said.
Mrs Warren said the family was having weekly video-conferencing therapy sessions with Ted and the Shepherd Centre.
“Our therapy with the Shepherd Centre is around teaching him to make sense of the sound in his cochlear implants, to detect and imitate sound,” she said.
Mr Warren held a morning tea for Loud Shirt Day with his fellow teachers and staff at Bayview Secondary College.
“For us to try and make other families aware is really important, because we know that when we were making those decisions, we didn’t know exactly what all our options were,” he said.
“The end result of our work with the Shepherd Centre will be in Ted’s best interest in terms of his listening and developing speech.”
Ted, aged one, is now demonstrating hearing skills on par with those of his normal hearing peers.
Ted and his family are looking forward to Loud Shirt Day this year, in which Australians are encouraged to rock their loudest looks to raise funds in support of the Shepherd Centre.
Research shows that with current funding, one in every two Australian children who are deaf miss out on crucial early intervention services.
Dr Jim Hungerford, chief executive officer of the Shepherd Centre, said the campaign was an opportunity to have some fun and bring out a silly side in support of a good cause.
“We’re helping more Australian children with hearing loss than ever before learn to listen and speak,” he said.
“However, we know that for every child we’re able to help, there’s another deaf child who’s missing out on this support.
“We rely heavily on public donations to be able to continue providing these essential services for Australian families and help close the gap.”
If interested in hosting a Loud Shirt Day event, visit www.loudshirtday.com.au to register and download your free Host Kit.
To donate to the Shepherd Centre and help families of children with hearing loss, visit https://shepherdcentre.org.au/support-us/donate/
Caption: Stuart and Caroline Warren, of Moonah, with son Ted, aged one.