When our daughter, Grace, failed her first newborn hearing screening test, we were reassured Grace was likely congested as she had only marginally failed. It was only at the follow up appointment six weeks later, when it was confirmed that she had bilateral severe-to-profound hearing loss, that we were completely devastated by the news. 

We cried, as we thought of a future without sound for our beautiful baby girl who was already so engaging, alert and visually aware. It was hard for us and people around us to believe that she could not hear. We stopped crying and began to educate ourselves and research to understand our options. It became clear to us that she was a good candidate for cochlear implants, a type of hearing technology which bridges the gap between sound and the brain, although we had not realised the challenge it would be to have the medical profession approve implantation. We persevered as we knew that early intervention was our best path to Grace hearing and developing in the most mainstream way possible. Grace was implanted at 8 months, in March 2017, at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

We met a friend of a friend whose daughter had benefited from the work of Auditory Verbal UK. She was almost insistent that we try Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT); and so, we did because we knew we needed to do all we could to maximise the benefits of the cochlear technology and give Grace the best opportunity to start her life as hearing children.

The AVUK team was professional, incredibly warm and projected a sensitivity which assured us we had made a good decision. Grace was only four months old at our first visit so it was impossible to really know how she would benefit or if she would like it. However, we immediately recognised the benefits in using auditory verbal techniques to teach Grace how to interpret the sounds of the world around her, nurturing her growth and development. So, we persevered going every fortnight to AVUK’s centre in Oxfordshire, until we managed to start attending sessions in Bermondsey.

AVUK gave us the tools to teach Grace to listen and acquire language. They also helped us deal with any challenges we faced along the way and gave us strategies to use at home. 

Grace thrived at AVUK and at each language assessment, she fared well above her age which confirmed our experience and assessment at home. As parents, we needed to know we were doing everything possible for Grace and by attending AVUK and following the programme, it gave us that comfort. 

Grace graduated from AVUK in July 2020, when she had just turned four years old and was prepared to start reception at a mainstream school in the autumn.

Grace is a happy and very confident child, an excellent communicator and amazing listener who is very curious and very broadly interested in many things the world has to offer her.

Grace has not missed out on anything in her life thus far and is fully immersed in the hearing world. Grace swims, dances, sings, draws, paints, loves animals, museums, art and reading. We are delighted with whom she is which I do not believe would have been possible without AVUK’s guidance and support.

As a result of our AVUK experience and realisation of just how important their work is in supporting families of deaf children, I joined the AVUK board as a trustee in 2018 and continue my support. I strongly believe that we must extend AVUK’s reach to provide access to AVT to all deaf children in the UK, so that they may also share the benefits and positive start to life and education that Grace has enjoyed.

Jorge, Grace’s father