As soon as Nate Korbl walks on to the playground of St John the Apostle Primary School in Florey, he is swamped by friends.
The noisy, boisterous, exuberant atmosphere of a school playground doesn't faze the five-year-old at all.
Which means he has come a long way.
Young Nate was three when he was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss. Back then he was a frustrated little boy who really didn't like to do things in groups.
Next week, he will be one of seven hearing-impaired children in Canberra to graduate from The Shepherd Centre's early intervention hearing program.
From there, it is on to big school next year at St John the Apostle's with his older siblings, Asha, 11, and Ryan, eight.
It's a breakthrough his parents, Angela and Aaron, always hoped would happen.
"All I really wanted was for him to be treated equally and for him to have the same opportunities as the other kids," Mrs Korbl said
Nate, who wears a hearing aid on each ear, has spent six months transitioning to mainstream school and it's obvious he already has plenty of mates at St John the Apostle's.
As well as a protective – and proud – big brother and sister.
"I'm excited for him," Asha said.
Ryan agreed: "I feel happy for him".
Mrs Korbl became worried about Nate's hearing two years ago when he was not reaching his milestones in the same way as his older siblings.
"He just wasn't progressing as fast as the other two," she said.
"He was very smart but he was very frustrated because he couldn't express himself."
She went first to ACT Health where he was diagnosed with hearing loss at age three then fitted with hearing aids at Australian Hearing. The moulds come in different funky colours and green is his colour of choice for the moment.
"We had a few bumps along the way to get him to wear them but he wears them all the time now," Mrs Korbl said.
Nate has for the last two years attended The Shepherd Centre in Rivett for regular speech therapy and other early intervention work to improve his listening and speaking.
"They've been really fantastic, really supportive," Mrs Korbl said.
Nate now loves to listen to music – Justice Crew and Bruno Mars are favourites – and run around a soccer field calling and listening to his team mates.
"He's still quite a shy little boy but he's also quite confident," Mrs Korbl said.
"He's willing to participate in group activities now which is fantastic. He's able to sing."