27 June 2017
Catching up with our alumni seems to be, not only one of our favourite things, but one of yours too!
Today we meet Angela who has achieved so much already, and is definitely destined for amazing things.
At fifteen months, my twin brother and I were declared hearing impaired. It was brought to my parents’ attention that my brother and I were deaf, because we were not very responsive to auditory stimuli. My parents felt immense grief that their twins would never achieve and would never be able to cope or thrive in a hearing world. However, they were proved very wrong indeed.
In 1996, I was diagnosed with a moderate-severe, bilateral sensorineural hearing-loss so I wear two digital hearing aids. Soon after, I commenced Auditory-Verbal Therapy at the Cora Barclay Centre. I then attended Kindergarten at the Cora Barclay Centre when it was located in Walkerville. I spent 3 great years attending Kindergarten with both hearing and hearing-impaired children. The Kindergarten director at the time was Heather Heading, and Teachers of the Deaf: Cathy Dodson, Pauline Gardner, Robyn Pettigrew, Nicola Capon, Robyn Shakes, Rachel Ward and more, were instrumental in helping my development.
I have a few memories of the Cora Barclay Centre that have always remained with me.
I remember playing in the sandpit, frolicking on the wooden playground, climbing tree branches and picking up caterpillars. I also can remember the craft activities we did, the plays, story-time reading sessions, music therapy sessions and taking part in Loud Shirt Day. I even remember my brother and I having two distinct friendship groups and we would gang up on each other during our playtimes, where the girls would be captives in their fortress. Most prominently, I can remember, just vaguely, receiving speech therapy in one of the offices and playing with puzzles.
However, my early childhood memories of the Centre appeared to be an illusion in my mind up until just several years ago, when my dad uncovered video tapes of me during these sessions. I remember watching some of the tapes in absolute awe with tears welling up in my eyes; it made me realise how much effort was put in so that I could learn to talk. I wouldn’t be where I am now in life if it wasn’t for the Cora Barclay Centre. I can honestly and wholeheartedly admit that if it weren’t for the Cora Barclay Centre, I wouldn’t be able to speak, read or write. My mother tells me that before I learned to speak, all I was capable of was incoherent babble. I’ll be eternally grateful for the support I received early in and throughout my childhood from the Cora Barclay Centre and all of the Teachers of the Deaf who supported me.
After my Cora Barclay Centre days, I attended St Pius X Primary School and then Adelaide High School, where I graduated from in 2012 with an ATAR of 99.05. I went on to study and complete a Bachelor of Psychological Science at the University of Adelaide. Last year, I graduated from an Honours Degree in Psychology with First Class Honours at Adelaide University. My honours thesis was centred on a topic I hold close to heart: Stereotypes of the Hearing Impaired. In my 23 years, I have come across many false stereotypes of the hearing-impaired and deaf individuals. These have comprised: the social category of “deaf and dumb”, that all hearing-impaired people use sign language to communicate, that hearing-impaired are not capable of leading normal, conventional lives, that all hearing-impaired people talk “strange” and so forth.
I found it important to stress that hearing impairment is not a single, unitary phenomenon; it is complex. Hence, hearing impaired/deaf individuals are just as diverse and as capable as their hearing counterparts. In my research, it was of utmost importance to eradicate any misconceptions, negativity, biases, and stereotypes associated with the hearing-impaired. In sum, my study employed a speech intelligibility construct and universal dimensions adapted from a social cognition psychological model to provide new knowledge about pernicious stereotypes associated with “hidden disabilities” like hearing-impairment.
Hobby-wise, I enjoy reading, writing and doing artwork. In the past, I have had my artwork exhibited and sold. I have a passion for literature and film as well as an interest in the discipline of psychology. I am also passionate about helping and inspiring others! I currently tutor high school and tertiary students, volunteer for the Starlight Foundation at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, mentor international students, and volunteer for the Cora Barclay Centre. I am currently taking a “gap year” from study, so I can engage in more volunteering opportunities and travel overseas with my best friend. Everyone deserves a break after all!
I aspire to become a Clinical or Health Psychologist, so I plan to do my Masters in the not so distant future! I am very content with my life and feel fulfilled with what I have managed to achieve throughout my life so far.
As a last note, I sincerely recommend the Cora Barclay Centre if you have a child who is hearing-impaired or deaf. The centre has an array of fantastic opportunities and support systems available for both children and families. I honestly cannot praise the centre enough!
If you would like to learn more about the therapy that Angela received you can read about it here. If you have a child who is deaf or hearing impaired, please contact the Centre to discuss the options that are available to support listening and spoken language.