“Some people have cats and go on to lead normal lives.”
Bethan was the leading Audiological Physician of her time, working at Paddington Green Children’s Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital. In those early days of the specialism, she used a child-centred approach, always involving parents and the wider family in information sharing and decisions about the child. Her skill and care in the diagnosis and audiological assessment of hearing loss in children with additional special needs, especially those with Down’s syndrome, was wonderful. Woe betide any hapless ENT junior on placement in her clinic who dismissed these young patients as not worth bothering about! [And that did happen...]
She also developed a very successful and sympathetic approach to ascertaining non-organic hearing problems and the cries for help that these so often actually are.
In the 70s and 80s, Paediatric Audiology relied almost entirely on behavioural tests and she brought a rigour to the assessment procedures that moved them on from an ‘Art’ to a ‘Science’. She was in the vanguard of appropriate and accurate fitting of the best hearing aids available, in order to give her patients the best possible chance of using their residual hearing to develop listening and spoken language.
Bethan was a pioneer in inter-agency working. She knew that all her efforts could be in vain if the family didn’t receive continuing support from the local Teacher of the Deaf once they left the hospital. All her clinics were run with a Teacher of the Deaf/Educational Audiologist and often a Specialist Educational Psychologist - a ‘Team around the Child’ decades ahead of its time.
The profession, and generations of young deaf people, owe her a great debt. A great number of her audiology colleagues and friends attended her funeral on 16 November, which we hope was a comfort to her son, John.