Little Sophie’s parents were overjoyed when their gorgeous bundle arrived – their first child; a beautiful baby girl, with strawberry hair and the brightest big blue eyes. “She was perfect,” Sophie’s mum Shannon recalls. Like almost all newborn babies, Sophie was given a hearing test, known as a SWISH test, at just a few days old. When she failed the test, her parents were told Sophie would need more comprehensive testing.


“When she failed the SWISH test the first time, my husband came back with the piece of paper listing ‘the reasons why your baby didn’t pass’, and I remember reading it and going, ‘Pah, whatever,’ - I chucked it in the bin,” Shannon says.


“And then she didn’t pass again, and the lady next to me in the room, her baby had just been tested and I remember her saying, ‘Oh, my baby passed the hearing test.’ And me replying, ‘Oh, mine didn’t. ‘Oh.’


Shannon vividly recalls the day that she and her husband were told the words that no parent wants to hear. “We went to the hospital for the ‘Auditory Brainstem Response’ test – but honestly, we had no idea what was happening. I had my back to the computer screen, but as my husband watched it, I saw his face just went grey – he could see that Sophie had no response to anything.


“I was trying to nod to him, ‘It’s okay, isn’t it?’ – but his face painted the picture. I remember looking at an orange folder titled Your Child Has Hearing Loss and thinking to myself, ‘We will be going home with one of those.’     


So he finished the tests and he looked at us and said, ‘Your daughter has severe to profound hearing loss.’ We couldn’t speak, we were so silent. It was like a big slap in the face. I just started crying and I remember saying, ‘Will she go to normal school?’ ‘Can she hear us now?’ “And my husband was just silent. He was working on cars as well and we didn’t know anything about hearing loss so he was thinking perhaps it was his fault because he used to angle grind. I mean, we had no idea. Absolutely no idea… we walked out and we were just silent on the way home. For about two hours we just couldn’t speak because you know, your perfect little bubble has been burst, I suppose. “So we came home and took the phone off the hook and just cried ourselves to sleep that night. It was pretty devastating. It wasn’t very nice at all.”



Soon after Sophie’s diagnosis, Shannon brought Sophie to The Shepherd Centre for the first time. Shannon wasn’t sure what to expect, but after spending just a few minutes at The Shepherd Centre, she felt reassured that everything would be ok.


“I got to see the other kids running around and they were speaking like typical kids. It was such a happy, supportive atmosphere that it took a bit of my fear away. I knew that I was in the right place and that I could come back the next week,” Shannon explains. “It put me on the right track, and gave me a battle plan and a goal and things to work towards. Our therapist, Alicia, was an angel. And the mums were so supportive. I drove home with less fear. We were starting on the right journey for Sophie.”


Sophie commenced the Early Intervention program shortly afterwards, and received a cochlear implant to aid her hearing when she was just seven months old.


“I think the little milestones are the things that keep me going,” Shannon says. “After Sophie first had her implant ‘switched on’, she looked around as if to say, ‘What’s that noise?!’ It was the microwave in the other room, which she would never have heard before. Then she started saying tricky sounds like ‘shh’ and ‘fff’, and soon after she was able to say her own name!”


Now, almost five years later, Sophie’s family are overjoyed to hear their little girl speaking clearly and confidently, telling jokes – even singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’!


“My hopes for Sophie when she was born have already been achieved, ten-fold. I didn’t think she would be speaking as well as she is, or be as proud and confident and accepting of what she has. My hopes now are for Sophie to be confident in her abilities, to love school and to lead a happy, rich life and experience all that she possibly can.


“The Shepherd Centre has given Sophie the gift of speech and taught her to communicate, which has changed her life. “They are an amazing family who will do absolutely everything humanly possible to help your child. You have access to such high quality professionals who have only got your baby’s best interests at heart. They help you along the path and give you knowledge, confidence and love and support.”


At The Shepherd Centre, we open up a world of sound for little children who are deaf or hearing impaired, so they can go confidently forward in life, and attend mainstream school. We achieve this by partnering with families and providing the proven, unique and individualised Early Intervention tools they need to teach their child to listen and speak. We make a transformative difference by empowering families to achieve their dream for their child.

Organisation Details
PO BOX 871 Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Contact details: 

+61 2 9351 7888