The story of our son, Sam We are Joanna and Andrew Callaghan. And this is the story of, our son, Sam. In August 2011 we introduced our son Samuel into the world. At five weeks, Sam was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf. We were devastated. Why him? Why us? No one in our family was deaf and we had no experience of knowingly meeting anyone else who was deaf. ‘Fear of the Unknown’ is an often used phrase but, for the first time in our lives, we were scared. Scared for our son’s future. Hearing aids would prove of no practical use as there was next to no hearing to amplify. We thought that we would never be able to speak to him… We wouldn’t hear his views and opinions on life, culture, politics… Nor, more importantly, would he ever be able to hear us tell him we love him. We worried about him making friends. Would he be able to go to mainstream school? How would he communicate with friends? How would WE communicate with HIM? And how would we cope with this additional challenge as two new, first time, parents? So many questions. And so few answers. Fast forward almost a year and, it would transpire that, Sam was lucky. It sounds almost perverse to say out loud but he was lucky that his level of deafness was as severe as it was. He proved to be a suitable candidate for cochlear implants and was implanted just before his first birthday. What a birthday present!!! Sam now had access to all the speech sounds. Armed with this miraculous knowledge, we knew immediately that we wanted to follow an oral approach to his communication rather than sign language. A friend of a friend (isn’t it always the way?) recommended Auditory VerbalUK (AVUK) to us. In fact, HIGHLY recommended AVUK to us. Despite living on the south coast of England we made the long journey to Bicester as we wanted to explore all of the options open to our deaf son. Straight away we knew that auditory verbal therapy (AVT) was what we wanted for Sam. After our introductory meeting, we were sent a video copy of the session. And continue to receive a video copy of each and every session that Sam attends. This is GREAT for the other parent if they are unable to attend. Or, simply as a reference tool, when we are putting the techniques we are shown in to every day practice. We are given, mutually agreed, take home goals to work on with Sam, in between sessions. At first this was very daunting; not knowing what to do to help Sam to speak. We have come to embrace these ‘take homes’. It is great having a structure to work with. Especially one that enables Sam to not only grasp concepts but develop his UNDERSTANDING of the world around him. And the best thing about the ‘take home’ goals? They are REALISTIC and ACHIEVABLE. We have worked with the highly trained teams in both Bicester and the equally fantastic London centre as it is closer to our home!! In addition to the expert speech therapy approach we wanted, we came to realise that we would get a lot of invaluable support along the way. Both procedural and emotional. AVUK have been of immense help with Sam’s Education Health Care plan; writing detailed reports to facilitate this and to assist in our ambition of delaying Sam’s entrance to his chosen Primary School’s reception year. Nothing is too much trouble for the team at AVUK . There is ALWAYS someone available to be contacted for help and advice. It has been a long journey for Sam as he also had problems with his balance to cope with. Today our little boy is talking away and it is all thanks to the guidance and dedicated hard work of AVUK. Sam is currently scored at having the lower end of age appropriate speech. This is fantastic achievement for our little boy. And all before he has even started school!! Just like the friend of a friend before us, we cannot recommend AVUK highly enough to anyone. We feel so optimistic about Sam’s bright future and we don’t feel his deafness will hold him back from achieving anything he wants to do. There are still lots of questions and not very many answers: What will he WANT to do? How will he narrow down all of the life opportunities and career avenues open to him? How will he find the time? And you know what? AVUK have held our hand and shown us that it isn’t scary at all. It is exciting!!!