The Story of Tegan – by her mom, Mareli
Meet eight year old Tegan van Niekerk – a vibrant, energetic young soul who enjoys living life to the full, despite her hearing disability.
After failing the auditory newborn screening test when she was born as well as numerous follow-up tests, Tegan was only diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears at the tender age of eight months, after an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test – a helpful tool in determining a child’s ability to hear.
Learning that your child is deaf or hard of hearing is devastating news, but you have a choice, and we chose to accept it and find the best possible solution. There should be no limits in raising a deaf child, it is a blessing not a burden. They are more capable than you can ever imagine. Even though our hearts were shattered, we knew we had an enormous responsibility in helping her to a hearing world.
So the journey to sound began as hearing aids were put to the test. It made a difference but not enough for her to learn speech, hear music and dance. We decided that cochlear implants were the only way forward. At 15 months of age Tegan was implanted in her right ear and the following year her left ear.
Both activations were quite emotional. We were told beforehand that this route is not a “quick fix” it involves endless and intense speech therapy sessions, hard work and a lot of patience!
But we were more than willing to embrace her journey to sound with her. Our aim remains to raise her with no limits, she should be able to do anything hearing people can do and still be proud of what makes her different. This includes being confident, to stand up for herself in certain situations eg. How to deal with bullies, not being shy etc. A superb building block was when she joined a modeling school for 3 years, it really helped boost her confidence in front of an audience.
She also loves singing & dancing, swimming, gymnastics and has a very special place for horses, art and the ocean. She also believes in magic where mermaids are real and she can fly with wings like Maleficent. She’s in a mainstream school and proud of showing her “magic ears” to curious friends.