Home' The Canberra Times : Chronicle 24.01.12 Contents THE CHRONICLE, Tuesday, January 25 2011 - 3
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10 - 07210/1
Off to primary school thanks to Shepherd
Amalie Leslie, pictured with her dad Lachlan Leslie, is starting primary school after several years attending The
Picture: Elesa Lee
AMALIE Leslie will start school next
week just like any other Kindergarten
This is a huge achievement for the
profoundly deaf five-year-old, for
whom it is much harder to keep up
with her peers' language and vocabu-
At just 10 months of age Amalie
contracted Pneumococcal Meningitis
and lost her hearing as a result.
Soon after she became one of the
first children in Canberra to receive
two bilaterally implanted cochlear
''She had to go through a process
that would usually take six months in
three weeks -- it was a bit of a nasty
time for us,'' her father Lachlan Leslie
Since her diagnosis Amalie has been
visiting The Shepherd Centre, a non-
profit organisation that teaches deaf
and hearing impaired children how to
listen and speak though early inter-
''It really brought her up to speed,''
Mr Leslie said.
''At 18 months when other children
are starting to talk, she had nothing but
Mr Leslie said Amalie's progress
was a great achievement.
''She's bright, she's bubbly, she's
really intelligent. There's no reason
she shouldn't be able to go to
mainstream school,'' he said.
Data released by The Shepherd
Centre last week showed deaf and
hearing impaired children from the
centre were maintaining remarkable
results in language and vocabulary, on
par with their hearing peers. According
to the CEO of The Shepherd Centre,
Anthea Green, such results would have
been impossible 10 to 15 years ago.
''All of the children that graduated
in 2010 -- apart from those with other
disabilities or for whom English is
their second language -- have been
recognised as having age appropriate
language skills,'' she said.
She said the data was the result of
early screening, spectacular tech-
nology and early intervention of
speech and language skills.
''Speed is of the essence. As soon as
they're diagnosed parents need to start
taking action,'' Ms Green said.
The Shepherd Centre aims to make
life ''as normal as possible'' for a child
with a hearing impairment.
Children can attend the centre from
as early as four weeks old, up until they
''If they go to schools for deaf and
dumb children they're immediately
excluded,'' Ms Green said.
''When they're first diagnosed, the
parents' first reaction is 'will my baby
be able to live a normal life?'.
''Our aim is to get these children
into normal society doing normal
things and excelling.''
Mr Leslie said The Shepherd Centre
allowed other parents with younger
children to see Amalie's progress, and
to realise the future wasn't bleak.
''Look at what can happen,'' he said
as he watched Amalie dancing around
''In a short conversation with
Amalie they can see the future for their
child, and it's a bright future.
''That's The Shepherd Centre bring-
ing people together.''
by The Chronicle photographer
can be purchased online at
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