'They've done amazing': The heartwarming 'first' these parents will never forget

Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied 

There are lots of firsts in parenting: first smiles, first steps and first words are all big moments.

But for parents Natasha and Marc Kenney, there is one first for their kids Amelie and Xavier that trumps them all.

The first time the now six and four-year-olds had their Cochlear implants turned on and they heard their mum and dad's voices will be forever etched in the pairs' minds.

Both children were born with profound bilateral hearing loss, meaning they are deaf in both ears. It was a shock to the family, who have no known family history of hearing loss. 

As first time parents, it was especially daunting for the pair when they were told something may be wrong with Amelie's hearing during her newborn hearing screening. Further testing confirmed profound hearing loss - so severe Natasha told Amelie "might possibly hear a jet flying over her head 20m away".

It was a similar shock when Xavier's hearing was shown to be of a similar level. The family still don't know what may have caused it.

What they do know is that the early intervention they were offered through not-for-profit organisation Hear and Say, including Cochlear implant surgery for both children aged just seven months, has allowed Amelie and Xavier to achieve their goals.

Both are at the hearing level of their hearing peers and Amelie is thriving in a mainstream school, where Xavier will soon join her. Last month, Amelie was even able to share why September 8 – the day her implant was first switched on, was an important anniversary for her.

"They're brilliant, both of them are little chatterboxes," Natasha said, "That was the main thing for us – to get them to school so they didn't fall behind."

Advertisement

"Amelie is reading, writing, doing pretty much what most other kids are doing at her age and socialising with her friends, which is really lovely. She's full of beans."

Both began listening and spoken language therapy at just six weeks old, with Natasha and Marc putting in a lot of work at home, as well as attending playgroup to boost social and communication skills and working intensively with specialists.

They also regularly have what Natasha calls 'fine tuning' of their ears, to ensure the implants are set to optimal function. As she said, without Hear and Say 'it would have been a different outcome for us'.  

"You just want your kids to have the best chance in life and lead as normal a life as possible. We're proud of them, despite their challenges. They've done amazing and keep pushing through," she added.

The family are sharing their story ahead of Loud Shirt Day tomorrow, which raises awareness of the one in six Australians impacted by hearing loss. It's also an important fundraising event for organisations such as for Hear and Say, who are aiming to raise $10,000 per year, per child to help provide similar therapy to other families like the Kenneys.

To get involved, simply sport your loudest, most colourful shirt tomorrow and help fundraise to support the more than 12,000 Australian kids who are deaf or hard of hearing.