Oct 2018 The Canberra Times

Little Elliot Paterson is, by his dad's own description, “non-stop''. "He's an absolute larrikin to be honest,'' Hugh Paterson said. "He's a cheeky little thing. The story from daycare apparently is that they had to move furniture out of the way because not only was he climbing all over it, he was actively encouraging the other kids to do the same. "He's non-stop. He's a ball of energy and, to to be honest, we wouldn't have him any other way.''


Hugh and Lorrae Paterson, of Jerrabomberra, with their son Elliot, who was diagnosed with hearing loss at four weeks of age.

Music is another love of the 16-month-old from Jerrabomberra. Even though he was born with mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears. "The Shepherd Centre has a musical play group every week and he loves to go and bang the drum or strum the guitar. He absolutely loves music.''


Elliot Paterson, with dad Hugh, loves music.

The Shepherd Centre in Weston Creek has been a welcome source of support for Mr Paterson and his wife Lorrae since Elliot was first suspected of having hearing loss after a standard test at just one-week-old. He was officially diagnosed at four weeks and had hearing aids fitted by Hearing Australia at eight weeks. Elliot is the couple's first child and they were initially put in a spin by the diagnosis. But it didn't take them long to understand that  this was just their boy, as beautiful as ever. "Obviously, it's very confronting. You have your first child and you assume everything is going to be perfect and nothing ever is going to go wrong,'' Mr Paterson said. "But I remember being in the paediatric ward at the Canberra Hospital walking past a father who was pushing his daughter in a wheelchair. She was four or five with IV and oxygen tubes going everywhere and we realised we've still got a happy and healthy, beautiful boy. There are so many other worse things that could happen. "I've worn glasses since I was three and my view is he's just a bit hard of hearing.''

Elliot has fortnightly speech pathology sessions at The Shepherd Centre in Rivett and is "making fantastic progress with his speech’'. "That's one of the things I didn't think of - that if Elliot couldn't hear properly, he couldn't speak properly,'' Mr Paterson said. "The Shepherd Centre has been absolutely fantastic in its support of us. Not only with the NDIS and the speech therapy but just in providing that pastoral and emotional support.''

One in every 1000 Australia babies born have a hearing loss and research shows that 50 per of those children miss out on services due to funding shortfalls. Loud Shirt Day will help to close this gap and ensure these children can have the "brightest future possible in a hearing world''.

"We recognise that we are very lucky and both have good jobs and can meet those out-of-pocket expenses but a lot of people can't,'' Mr Paterson said. "Loud Shirt Day is about raising those funds but it's also a conversation starter. I knew nothing about hearing loss before we had Elliot. I just assumed people were deaf and didn't understand the spectrum involved.''

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They are based in Western Australia and supported by Senses Australia.

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