Before Tjandamurra Cavanaugh was diagnosed with chronic hearing issues, he had little speech, had suffered a burst ear drum and several ear infections.
But a chance encounter at the three-year-old's playgroup has now changed his life for the better.
Tjandamurra's story is being highlighted for the launch of Hearing Australia's new assessment tools to help detect hearing issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which coincides with International Literacy Day this week.
The Maitland toddler utilised the new tools a month after starting at Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council playgroup, when a pop-up hearing clinic came to visit earlier this year.
"I knew what to look for because of the experience I had with his older brother Rylan," Tjandamurra's mum Kaylah said. "We had such trouble getting him hearing help in the beginning, it took me years to get grommets for him.
"We jumped at the chance to attend the clinic and haven't looked back."
Tjandamurra completed the assessment tool called PLUM, developed by Hearing Australia's research division National Acoustic Laboratories.
The PLUM assessment indicated a score of 18 - well below the acceptable listening level for a three-year-old.
Kaylah decided to get Tjandamurra fitted with a bone conduction hearing aid, which combined with working with his regular speech therapist, resulted in rapid improvements.
Within two weeks of getting his hearing aid, Tjandamurra achieved a score of 28 in the PLUM assessment and within a month, he was able to say 30 sentences.
"I get tears when I speak about it, it's been such a long road," Kaylah said. "Now he can hear me clear as day and he even responds - it's so good to hear his voice. He has a little man voice."
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