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Charity highlights support for parents of deaf children

Posted in News

Press release

The National Deaf Children’s Society is highlighting the support available to parents of deaf children, as part of Deaf Awareness Week (6-12 May).  

With more than 90% of deaf children born to hearing parents with no experience of deafness, many families can be unsure where to go for support or what being deaf means for their child’s future. Parents who are deaf may also not always know where to go to for support when they are told their child is deaf.

The National Deaf Children’s Society asked the parents of deaf children from across the UK to share the emotions they experienced after being told their child is deaf. The charity also asked deaf young people to share their deaf awareness tips, in the hope of helping other families new to deafness.  

Gladiators star Fury, real name Jodie Ounsley, shared her top tips to help deaf children and young people smash through the barriers which some regularly face.

The hit show’s first deaf Gladiator said: “[For me] The most useful tip has to be honesty. Just by being very open and honest and being vulnerable in those moments where you may be misunderstanding or feeling isolated at times, is huge. Not only does it help your confidence, but it raises awareness to the people around you so that they are able to understand and support where they can.

“Be brave and just go for it, whether it’s a new sport or a challenge that may feel a bit scary, you never know what is around the corner and your deafness certainly shouldn’t to be the reason to hold you back.”

Debbie’s 15-year-old daughter Ruby lost her hearing through a virus at 18-months-old.  

Debbie, from Hertfordshire, said: “I was devastated as I thought Ruby wouldn’t have a normal childhood but looking back now, she was so resilient. Ruby was fitted with bilateral cochlear implants and learned to lip-read.  

“Ruby’s deafness has not held her back at all. She’s confident and attends a mainstream school where she’s doing well. We made her deafness much more of an issue than she ever did. Ruby’s turned into an amazing, young lady, so my advice to parents is try not to worry.”  

Recalling the moment that she was told her child was deaf, Amy, from Northampton, said: “It was overwhelming at first, but we were given a lot of help and support. It was incredibly helpful to meet other parents in a similar situation to us and the reassurance your child isn’t broken and can have a fulfilling and successful life with no limits.”  

Tess, from Cambridgeshire, whose two-year-old son is severely to profoundly deaf in both ears and is fitted with cochlear implants, said: “I recollect how new deafness is to most parents whose children have a hearing loss, and consequently how frightening it can seem.  

“Just realising that a community existed and that they would be there, alongside us to help my son understand and celebrate his deafness throughout his life was a huge comfort.”  

Kaitlyn is a profoundly deaf 19-year-old, who experienced communication challenges in her early years but today leads a full academic and social life.  

Kaitlyn, from Bromley in southeast London. said: “I passed my GCSE’s, my A Levels and my driving test. I’ve also learnt British Sign Language (BSL) – I’m currently doing Level 3 – and I’m a fantastic lip reader. I love spending time with my deaf friends at deaf badminton and deaf pub. I attended a deaf rave last year too! I have done some acting and I’d love to do lots more.”   

Simon Want, Head of Policy and Influencing (England) with the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Many parents tell us they knew very little, or nothing at all, about deafness before they had a deaf child. So, it’s hardly surprising that these parents find themselves feeling confused, unprepared and worried about what the future might hold for their children.  

“The National Deaf Children’s Society is here to help you give your deaf child the very best start in life. With the right support, there’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t grow up confident, happy and fulfilled.”