Max O’Connor is exceptional. On one hand, the nine-year-old’s IQ is in the 98th percentile; on the other, he can only understand about half of what is said to him. Max has Audio Processing Disorder (APD), which means only some of the information received by his ears registers in his brain.
Fortunately for Max, there is a solution. With the help of Satan’s Little Helper – Hell Pizza’s crusader for good causes – he and his classmates at Christchurch’s Hoon Hay School are benefitting from a state-of-the-art sound system that significantly increases Max’s listening comprehension and allows the rest of his class to hear more clearly too. “The system costs around $2,800,” says Max’s mum Sonya. “We had a nightmare trying to get funding from the Ministry of Education. I was getting really worried that Max would become frustrated at school and stop applying himself. When I applied to Satan’s Little Helper, I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of it, so I was really excited when they offered to help.” The system was installed on 30 March and Sonya is delighted with the results. “Max loves it! He can’t believe the difference. Instead of using all his energy to try to understand what the teacher is saying, he can focus on learning. As a result, the teacher is spending less time checking that Max has heard her, which gives her much more time with other kids.” Hoon Hay teacher Kate Johnson would love to see the system installed elsewhere. “Every single child in the country would benefit from this system, because every child would hear better” she says.