Dramatic progress thanks to Vantage Lite

Corban Cooper, 4, is making dramatic improvements with the aid of a $7000 speech and hearing machine called a Vantage Lite. Picture: MARK JESSER

Corban Cooper, 4, is making dramatic improvements with the aid of a $7000 speech and hearing machine called a Vantage Lite. Picture: MARK JESSER

WHEN Corban Cooper’s small computer speaks at the press of a button, his hands fly up and a smile lights his face in a look of ecstatic, uncontrollable joy.

This is no ordinary computer.

Its unique voice is one of the only coherent things four-year-old Corban can hear, given his severe aversion to hearing aids.

Born at 25 weeks, and weighing just 500 grams, Corban has stopped breathing more times than his mother, Cassy Skewes, would like to remember.

While Corban beat 50-50 odds to return to his Mayfield home after about eight months in hospital, his life is still affected by his premature birth.

The boy who was once no longer than a pencil is still very small, has the mental capacity of a two-year-old and a hearing impairment called auditory neuropathy.

However, Ms Skewes said a device called Vantage Lite, which the family borrowed from disability support organisation St Giles, had helped Corban make dramatic progress.

The machine, designed for children with autism, speaks words out loud when prompted.

‘‘Corban’s started saying things like on, off, more, mum – he’s just vocalising a lot more,’’ Ms Skewes said.

‘‘He’s becoming more interested in things, and he has more of an open mind.’’

Ms Skewes is raising funds to buy Corban the $7000 machine, and hopes it will help get him ready to start kindergarten in 2016.

A netball competition will be held at the YMCA at Kings Meadows on Saturday, September 13, from 10am to 3pm to raise funds for Corban. Entry is $20. To register a team, contact Karen on 0417103117.

To contribute to the fund-raiser, visit http://www.mycause.com.au/page/77798/corbanswaytocommunicate.

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