Grace who is now 5 years old and from Cardiff joined our Auditory Verbal family programme in March 2022. She was born with moderate to profound hearing loss and had bilateral cochlear implant surgery in January 2021. 

Grace’s mum, Rhian share’s her story:

Rhian and Grace“It was a complete shock at first. I have an older child, and I guess a mothers instinct led me to know pretty instantly that I thought Grace was deaf within a few days of her being born. She was unwell so there were other complications, but she wasn’t reacting to sounds, not flinching at loud noises...that kind of thing. The team at the hospital were amazing. They acted quickly and we were seen within a month at the Children’s Audiology unit, University Hospital of Wales.

I think that was the most difficult experience to go through. When you’re told your child is severely deaf, and you feel completely helpless. A complete audiometric assessment was conducted and concluded that Grace had a moderate to severe loss in her left ear and severe to profound hearing loss in her right.

We were offered hearing aids for Grace to wear and regular support at the hospital with weekly appointments for the hearing moulds to be taken as her little ears grew and changed over a short space of time.

I did some research myself back in 2020 – I hadn’t heard of Auditory Verbal therapy before, and I was desperately searching for something that would help my child develop her speech just like her hearing peers. My concern was that she wouldn’t be able to communicate with the hearing world, or fit in, all of those normal concerns you have as a parent.

I came across the AVUK website and was instantly impressed with the work they were doing with deaf children - to help them reach their goals before they start mainstream school. I had mentioned it to her Speech and Language Therapist about the service and unfortunately, they didn’t have funding in Wales to afford the therapy and that option was put on hold.

Her language and speech development wasn’t progressing at it should, and that’s when we came to the hard decision that she should have cochlear implants.

Fast forward a little to December 2020 – we were contacted by the hospital and Grace was booked in to have her operation a month later in January 2021.

A couple of months on and Grace was starting to wear her implants for longer than an hour a day - this took some time for her to get used to – learning again about the sounds around her. Sounds she had never heard before. Things like understanding me say her name had to be all relearned.

Her Speech and Language Therapist remembered me mentioning to her about Auditory Verbal therapy about a year previous and told me that another family she was seeing had started Auditory Verbal therapy with their child and were getting some funding in Wales. I basically jumped at the chance and contacted AVUK directly. They set me up with a call with one of their Auditory Verbal therapists, and the rest is history.

Our Auditory Verbal Therapist, Vicky is absolutely amazing and has gone beyond what she needed to offer. She has the ability to explain how we as parents, can improvise situations into learning opportunities for Grace through play, and also being more patient and allowing Grace to try and use her words to get what she wants and not answer for her, which as parents, we automatically do for our children. We look at language opportunities using various strategies. We encourage Grace to use the power of words, express her thoughts, ask questions about the world around her… and we’ve managed to do this all through video calls. Albeit, tough on occasions where Grace finds it difficult to equalise her emotions, and her focus can be limited. But working from a home setting, Grace can be relaxed in her environment.

Vicky also noticed that Grace has trouble self-regulating which is a sign of Sensory integration issues. She went above and beyond helping us to find a suitable Occupational Therapist in our area to assess Grace which we got help with and was able to get a full assessment. And now we can understand our daughters needs better, and why she struggles to focus which isn’t just related to her hearing loss.

Without funding, we wouldn’t have been able to offer this resource to our daughter. We feel that the progress Grace has made, and her understanding of language, has greatly improved. And I feel this has been helped by receiving this service.

She’s more expressive, and confident, and will really try and communicate. She’s come a long way.

We have been provided with the tools now to support our daughter in the best way possible.

I always feel that the team at AVUK have our child’s needs as their main priority. We have follow up parent meetings to ensure Grace is getting all the support we could be obtaining, and that we’re meeting our own objectives and goals.

Grace has just started school this month, and we are now implementing her online sessions within her school. It’s an amazing feeling that we are promoting Auditory Verbal therapy and that her teachers are on board with this. Grace has started her first year of school and is now understanding her world around her because she now has that level of language development.”  

Rhian – Grace’s mum