Alana’s hearing loss was identified by the newborn hearing screening. She was born with a sensorineural moderate-severe loss and received her first set of hearing aids at 3 months old. We were devastated with the diagnosis and I cried buckets over her, wondering if she would ever hear us whisper “I love you”, call me “mummy” or be able to go to our local village school.

We were clueless and had absolutely no experience of deafness, but after the grieving process, I started researching in earnest. Alana progressed well with her hearing aids, I was a stay at home mum at the time so was able to talk every hour of the day to her, with little background noise, and we used to sit with a heap of books and read, read, read.

I tried so hard to keep those hearing aids in as much as possible in the early years - despite her tugging them out constantly at times and trying to have a chew on them. Teething was a nightmare and I look back on photos and am dismayed at how many have a hearing aid missing here or there! 

At around 18 months I became concerned about the speech she was developing, she didn’t say the beginnings of the words, and I had heard of AVUK during my online research so decided to come for an introductory session (despite my daughter screaming during almost all car journeys)! It is a testimony to AVUK that after just one session and seeing the progress Alana made that following week, I was willing to put myself and Alana through the car journeys! (I used to bring a grandparent for moral support sometimes…)

During the first session I learned so many new techniques for helping Alana learn to listen and speak, I was amazed. Her progress was nothing other than astounding. In the first 6 months on the program her language rocketed by 1 year and 5 months!

AVUK have helped Alana to develop her language incredibly quickly, however there were so many other aspects of our journey, that they helped with too.

It was simple things, like AVUK were the first people to mention a radio aid to me. When I was concerned about Alana not hearing me when out in parks, near roads, starting Preschool and at ballet classes – they suggested I ask my Teacher of the Deaf (TOD) for one. It was so helpful and Alana still loves it now although we have gone through a few versions over the years!

When Alana was two-and-a-half  years old, her hearing test showed a drop but because she had wax in her ears the audiologist said it was likely just because of that. I felt convinced her hearing had dropped and she’d been left for months and months not aided to the correct level. I was so frustrated and felt powerless but AVUK were able tell us about CHEAR in London so we booked a private hearing test. This showed Alana’s hearing levels had indeed dropped significantly and with this evidence we were able to get Alana’s hearing aids tuned correctly.

I always wanted Alana to achieve her potential and AVUK gave us goals to achieve that. Whatever stage she was at, there was always something to work on next. I came away from each session inspired, positive and excited about Alana’s future, believing anything is possible. It was the best therapy for me as a parent too!

AVUK were also a huge support as we watched Alana’s hearing decline and navigated the process of cochlear implants and the adjustment period afterwards. She had her first one activated just a few months before starting school.

When Alana started school, we turned to AVUK again. Both the reception teacher and the headmaster attended their Mainstreaming deaf children course in London. It was such a relief to sit and listen to experts tell my child’s educators all the most important information I wanted them to have in a clear and concise way. Our therapist was able to visit school too and tell me with confidence that the school were doing a great job for Alana. We worked on strategies for lunch and playtime, and how Alana could advocate for herself.

Alana is now a thriving, extremely happy profoundly deaf ten-year-old who chats to her brother constantly, is kind and thoughtful, reads everything and anything in sight, plays the piano, does 101 clubs after school and gained the highest mark possible across all of her Key Stage 1 SATs papers. She is at our lovely local village mainstream school and I’m very excited about her future. So much of that is thanks to AVUK.

- Alana’s mum, Amanda