With a wide grin on her face, eight-month-old Savannah stretched out her arms and wrapped them tightly around her brand new doll.
As the baby giggled a little, it was clear to mother Amy from Perth that her daughter had found her new favorite toy – and more.
The seemingly ordinary doll had blond hair and a crisp white bow on her head.
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But it also had another special feature.
Behind the doll’s right ear is a hearing aid – just like Savy’s.
A delighted Amy says the unique toy allows her daughter to be herself unashamedly.
“Savy is so special and I didn’t want her to worry about feeling different,” Amy says 7Life.
“It’s so important for her to feel involved.”
With Savy’s first birthday next month, parents Dean and Amy can’t believe how far their daughter has come.
After a normal pregnancy, Savannah decided to arrive almost two weeks early.
A week in the special care nursery gave the newborn the security to finally go home to Mom and Dad.
However, Savy soon began to show signs of hearing loss.
“She failed the newborn hearing test twice when she was seven days old, but the nurse told us it could just be fluid buildup from birth and not to worry,” Amy says.
“And if there was a really loud bang or if we dropped something at home, she’d turn her head, so I wasn’t too worried.
“But when she was eight weeks old, they told us she had poor hearing in her right ear.”
The first-time mother didn’t realize how severe her daughter’s hearing loss was and immediately started thinking the worst.
“I think I cried all week after we found out,” she says.
“I kept thinking, ‘Could she (Savannah) ever hear my voice?’.”
Two weeks after the initial test, the family was referred to Hearing Australia for a formal diagnosis.
They were told that Savy had an 80 percent loss in her right ear and a 10 percent chance of hearing loss in her left.
Specialists also couldn’t tell the parents if her hearing would deteriorate further.
She would probably also need a hearing aid for the rest of her life.
At home, Amy began to process what this meant to her little girl and started joining online hearing loss communities for advice.
By connecting with other parents, the mother began to understand more about how to meet Savy’s unique needs.
When her little girl was three months old, she was ready to have her hearing aid fitted.
At the appointment, Amy bounced her daughter on her knee while the doctor wrapped the device around the baby’s right ear and turned it on.
At first she wasn’t so sure about the strange object attached to her head.
But at home, as Amy called her name across the room, Savy turned her head to her mother.
“Before, she could never see where voices were coming from,” Amy says.
“And now when she plays with toys that make noise, she has a big smile on her face.”
Savy will now begin to match animal sounds to the animal, as she hears it for the first time.
“We’ll show her a banana and make ‘mmm’ sounds and then make a monkey and a monkey noise,” says the mother.
Savy still needs to get used to the device, but Amy wants to make sure she grows up knowing that having a hearing aid doesn’t make her any less.
Then she came over Miniland Dolls Australia – a small Australian company that makes custom dolls that resemble their owner.
With a special doll with a hearing aid just like hers, Savy fell in love with the toy – and the pair are inseparable.
“It’s really good to see dolls that are so all-encompassing – like Barbie released a wheelchair series,” Amy says.
“There are also actors in Hollywood now promoting their disability, which is great for Savannah to see.”
Amy shares Savy’s journey with her hearing aid Instagramconnecting and supporting others with hearing loss and promoting inclusiveness at all levels.
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