Share Your Story: Nick
Updated: Oct 6
Nick recently qualified as an Audiologist and is about to start his career at The Hearing House in Auckland. Nick's career journey began in 2011 when he pursued architectural drafting. However, after a number of years working in the architecture industry, he realised that audiology was his true passion and he wanted to give back after all the support he had received on his journey with his cochlear implant.
Nick pursued a master's degree in Audiology and was awarded the Deaf Education Scholarship by the NFD Trust. Nick used the scholarship to pay for his laptop and course fees, which helped him pursue his studies.
"I'm super grateful for the scholarship. Every little cent counts, and I'm so thankful for it."
Nick's masters thesis looked at how to help parents make an informed decision about the cochlear implant process for their children. "I've been looking at the parents' experiences and perspectives on the cochlear implant process for their child and the support services in New Zealand. Ultimately, I hope my thesis can help future parents make an informed decision for their child to get them implanted or not."
While there is no one-size solution that fits all, Nick's experience has been positive. "Growing up with a cochlear implant, it has literally changed my life. And I want people to recognise they are life-changing," he said. Nick also noted that "cochlear implant surgery is one of the most cost-efficient, life-changing surgeries in the world", significantly improving the individual’s quality of life and opening up new opportunities.
Born profoundly Deaf, it wasn't until he was 17 months old that his Grandad picked up on his condition.
"My parents were very busy, and they didn't pick that up because I was so responsive to facial expressions. It was my Grandad that picked it up, and then, sure enough, I got hearing tests, and they found out that I was profoundly Deaf," Nick recalls.
At that time, cochlear implants were still in their early stages, and his family had a huge decision to make. "There was a big debate about whether to go ahead with it or keep me immersed in the Deaf world. And they went ahead with the cochlear implant, and I was implanted at three and a half years old," he says.
Nick was one of the first children in New Zealand to be implanted in 1995. "It was a huge decision for my parents. And I'll add that if they didn't go ahead with it, I wouldn't be here where I am now without the cochlear implant.”
Nick's family were incredibly supportive of him throughout his journey. "My Mum was the primary caregiver… I was fortunate because I was the youngest and got plenty of her attention. And once she found that I was Deaf, she progressed into learning New Zealand Sign Language. And fortunately I picked it up really quickly. So yeah, that whole bonding experience with Mum was very special," Nick says. "My Dad, siblings and grandparents were also very supportive. They signed when they could. I also have a close relationship with my extended family. I grew up in an incredibly loving and supportive environment. And that made a huge difference in my upbringing."
Nick's schooling years were also supportive, although sometimes challenging.
"I had an amazing, full-time teacher aide. Despite the challenges, I didn't have too many problems throughout my schooling years. A huge part of that was growing up in a community-minded town," he says. "Obviously, I was playing catch-up as soon as I got my implant but I picked up school reasonably quickly. Mum and my amazing teacher aide also put in numerous homework tasks after school to help me catch up. And then, I guess that just kept going, once I did meet [the milestones], they kept pushing it. I'm very grateful for it now. However I didn't like the extra work at the time, but it certainly paid off."
Nick also shared his experience with The Hearing House, a non-profit organisation supporting Deaf and hard of hearing children and their families in New Zealand.
"The Hearing House is very supportive and I feel very lucky to have had their support growing up. They are amazing in the work they do for us cochlear implant users." He acknowledged that getting a cochlear implant and the rehabilitation process were incredibly tiring especially as a child. It involved a lot of hard work over the years and he is thankful to The Hearing House for supporting him through it.
Nick's journey has come full circle as he recently secured a job at The Hearing House in Auckland, where he will work with the adult team in May. He did a placement there last year and instantly felt at home. "During placement, I felt so helpful and could relate to the clients with their problems as I could relate it to my own hearing journey" he said. With his experience and having walked the walk, Nick is uniquely positioned to help people. "There are a lot of feelings and fears. It's such a massive part of the process. Ultimately, I just hope I’ll make a huge difference to others in the same boat."
Lastly, we asked Nick what tips he had for parents who have just learned their child has been diagnosed with hearing loss.
"Embrace it. You may look at [the hearing loss] as terrible news, but you must consider it a positive thing. That's how they're born, embrace who they are, and maximise their strengths and capabilities... Learn sign language and make sure they're being heard… Just make them feel as included as possible no matter the situation."
Thanks so much Nick for sharing your story and we wish you the best as you start your new role at The Hearing House!
In our Share Your Story series, Deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders open up about their experiences.
If you want to apply for the Deaf Education Scholarship, please click here: https://www.nfd.org.nz/nfd-trust-grants-ands-scholarships
Stay tuned for more interviews, which will soon be released to our blog: