Nathaniel was diagnosed as deaf after his newborn hearing screening. He had hearing aids at six-weeks old and cochlear implants at 15-months.

Now aged nine Nathaniel, from Cardiff, is at mainstream school and both his English and Maths levels are meeting national targets set for a child of his age thanks to Auditory Verbal therapy and the family programme provided by Auditory Verbal UK which has supported Nathaniel to learn to listen and speak.

Mum Siobhan explains the difference Auditory Verbal therapy has made to Nathaniel and the family as a whole:

“Deafness is a disability but with the right support deaf babies and children like Nathaniel can achieve their potential. Thanks to the amazing cochlear implant technology and the specialist Auditory Verbal therapy programme he is reaching his academic targets as he should.

AVUK not only supported Nathaniel to listen and speak but inspired us all to raise expectations of what Nathaniel can achieve. I am constantly raising my expectations of him and striving for others to see what he is capable of. With early support, which is the right approach for each individual deaf child, there is absolutely no reason that they shouldn’t be achieving and meeting age-appropriate targets at school.

I found out about AVUK online and for three years, from the age of two, we travelled from Cardiff to Oxfordshire for our fortnightly coaching sessions. By coaching the family to develop his listening and spoken language skills it gave us an understanding of his speech development and it felt like a whole team effort with us all working towards the same goal.

From diagnosis to the present day, we’ve had great support in Cardiff from the cochlear implant team and the teachers of the deaf who all continue to work hard to support Nathaniel reach his potential, but I felt we needed the Auditory Verbal therapy approach alongside the other early intervention. Auditory Verbal therapy is family education training and it taught us as parents that we can support Nathaniel’s language skills and we can raise our expectations.

AVUK played an important part in helping make our dreams for Nathaniel speech and listening come true.

It was the missing piece we needed in our tool box to support Nathaniel after his cochlear implant operation, and Auditory Verbal therapy and AVUK helped to shine a light for us in a confusing time with the charity’s family programme as the road map to success.

Nathaniel graduating from the specialist programme aged six and now nearly four years on, he is now like any other boy his age but it is his implants and speech which make him extraordinary.

When I hear him chatting to my Mum on the phone I have to stop and marvel at the wonder of it. Even now he sometimes corrects his Dad’s speech as English for him is a second language.

I now work and volunteer in Cardiff supporting other families with deaf babies and children and it is obvious they are facing a crisis. It is absolutely essential that support is provided early be it to develop spoken language, sign language or both, but this support is simply not there and is going to affect all their opportunities including at school, in work and life in general.

I have learned sign language and taught Nathaniel and we do sign, as well as speak. I want him to have the choice and option as he grows up, but it was always a top priority to ensure he can listen and speak.

It has not been an easy journey but we are so incredibly proud of Nathaniel as he continues to prove that he can achieve the same as his hearing friends.

But things need to change for other Welsh families with deaf children now. Awareness, ambition and investment are all so low and this is just not fair.

Siobhan - Nathaniel's Mum