Ernie was diagnosed as profoundly deaf as a baby. The news for us was devastating and we thought that Ernie would never be able to talk. We didn’t know anyone who was deaf or had deaf children and at the time we didn’t know what support was out there.

It took a few weeks to start getting our heads around everything. We found out about Auditory Verbal therapy from research and first visited Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK) when Ernie was seven months old. When we met the founder of AVUK, Jacqueline Stokes – an Auditory Verbal Therapists - I remember very well her asking us what we wanted for Ernie and what our aspirations were for him. I wanted to say “to speak and be understood”, but we believed this was out of our reach.

During our first session, Jacqueline joined Ernie and us in a room and we played a game with a toy, saying the words “around and around”. Ernie didn’t take his eyes off the toy and Jacqueline encouraged him to say the words. To our surprise, he did. They were his first clear words, “around and around”.

Finding the money for the therapy programme and the childcare for my other son, alongside travelling to AVUK’s centre in Bicester, Oxfordshire, was a worry for us until they told us about the bursary scheme which was an amazing help. We would have really struggled without this financial support and it is disappointing to hear that there is still little to no public provision of Auditory Verbal therapy in the UK.

From the therapy programme to preparing for Ernie’s Cochlear Implant assessment in 2008 when he was two, the help we had from AVUK staff was amazing. It’s the support they give you to be able to support your deaf child, you think you’re going for the therapy, but you come away with so much more. For example, the recordings we were given of our therapy sessions were amazing as it kept my husband up to date as the therapy became a way of life for us.

He graduated from the Auditory Verbal therapy programme with spoken language ahead of a typical child his age.

He has attended mainstream primary and secondary school and is now at the London Screen Academy (LSA) studying film and TV. We are so proud of him.

There is no way that his spoken language and listening would be so good without the amazing support we had from that very first visit to AVUK onwards. I didn’t think Ernie would ever speak let alone say the word Mum.

Now as well as working hard at the LSA, he was a passionate and talented actor working with a theatre company for seven years before taking up his place at the LSA and is also a football coach working with children and he works in a restaurant kitchen.

We are still so incredibly thankful to all the staff at AVUK, but also disappointed that years on from Ernie’s diagnosis, awareness and expectations for deaf children and young people are still low and that families do not know what options are out there for them.

Every parent or caregiver with a deaf child has the right to choose the path which is the best for their own child, but without information and access to early and effective support, like Auditory Verbal therapy, this isn’t possible – it’s time for this to change, and urgently, so all deaf children have the same opportunities in life as their hearing friends.