Warwick boy lets nothing stand in his way
AT JUST nine months old, Will Corney was found to have hearing loss. His mother cried for weeks.
The now six-year-old Warwick boy wears hearing aids permanently, but it hasn't stopped him becoming one of the brightest young kids getting ready to start Year 1 in 2018.
After the initial diagnosis mum Rosie Corney was distraught.
"I cried for two whole weeks,” she said.
"I had those fears that every mother would.
"That Will would miss out on all the things normal kids enjoy, that he'd have no friends, that no one would want to play with him.”
Mrs Corney said her husband Andrew provided a guiding reassurance.
"Andrew is six foot two,” she said.
"He said Will would grow up to be bigger than everyone else and no one would dare pick on him.”
This week Will completed his last early intervention session with not-for-profit organisation Hear and Say.
For five years Will and his mum have had weekly sessions with a therapist via Skype, working on listening skills as well as focusing on words and elements of speech.
"The program was designed to make sure Will hit the same learning milestones as hearing kids,” Mrs Corney said.
"We role-played with toys, went over words and sounds that Will initially struggled with and read a book every time. There were lots of questions asked and Will had to answer in a sentence.
"Listening is the key to it all - if they don't hear how a sound is made then they won't be able to say it.”
Mrs Corney said Will passed with flying colours, with learning and language skills as good as, if not advanced on, kids his age.
Will started wearing hearing aids in 2013.
Today he sports a flashy blue and yellow pair.
"I got them because I knew Lachlan (brother, aged 8) and Dad would like them,” Will said.
"Because blue and yellow are the colours of the North Queensland Cowboys.
"I'm used to them now, I just get on with it.”
MRS Corney said she had worried about other kids accepting Will when he started Prep.
"But kids don't care, they were so accepting,” she said.
"They're curious of course, they'd ask, 'what are they?' about the hearing aids, then the next thing would be 'can we have a biscuit?' or 'let's go play'.
"Only once has anyone said anything that's shocked me - what he said made me think, 'no, you're wrong, it's not terrible, his life is the same as every other child.”
Mrs Corney said Will had always been aware of his hearing loss.
"Although he's only really asking questions this year as to why he has the issue,” she said. "He has never liked being singled out or pointed out as being different, which is really evident in the classroom setting.
"But he loves that the kids in his class have embraced his FM technology, which links sound from the teacher or person speaking directly into his hearing aid.”
Mrs Corney said if you asked Will, he would consider himself a normal six-year-old who just has broken ears.
"While he is shy and takes time to come out of his shell, Will truly has exceeded my expectations in how he is tackling life.”
"He's pretty good, he knows he needs them,” she said. "But he does lose them sometimes.”
Mrs Corney said Will didn't let his hearing loss stop him at all.
"I love watching him play hockey and touch footy with all the other kids,” she said.
"He's a funny, happy, gorgeous kid, but there won't be any rugby league.
"Not yet anyway.”