Dec 2018 9News.com.au

A transition to school program that helps children with hearing loss reach their full potential needs public donations after the NSW Department of Education ceased funding it. The program helps children before they start primary school to develop skills including literacy, numeracy and ways to adapt to noisy group environments. The problem is, the transition to school program isn't funded by the Education Department or the National Disability Insurance Scheme. "Donations from the public are incredibly important for us," Jim Hungerford, The Shepherd Centre CEO, said. "We used to be funded by the Department of Education, very sadly this year, that has all gone away and we've lost over half a million dollars."

Olive O'hagenOlive O'Hagan is entering the program

Research has shown that the transition to school program can make a huge difference. "It makes a mammoth difference. We know from studies around the world that typically children with hearing loss come out of school two years behind every other child," Mr Hungerford said. Early intervention can also help children improve their pronunciations. Hearing the ending or beginning of words can be very challenging, even with cochlear implants or hearing aids. "Teachers may also need education in how to structure their classrooms and effectively use technology that assists a hearing impaired child to listen within noisy school environments," Dr Anne Fulcher, Principle Listening and Spoken Language specialist, said.

Rachel, Adrian and Angus with OliveOlive's parents Rachel and Adrian with her brother Angus

Olive O'Hagan, 5, is embarking on the program after receiving cochlear implants at an early age. "The transition to school program is going to set her up," her mother Rachel O'Hagan said. "These 12 months we're throwing everything at it to give her this chance."

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