Our impact News In the spotlight: Estelle Gerrett We sat down with one of our Auditory Verbal therapists, Estelle, to find out a little bit more about her, and her journey to becoming an Auditory Verbal therapist. What were you doing before you became an Auditory Verbal therapist? I was a special needs primary school teacher. Even before I became an Auditory Verbal therapist I’d always enjoyed working with children who require additional support. What made you decide to begin working with deaf children? My second child, Nathan, contracted meningitis at one year old. I was told that he’d never be able to speak, but I believed that there simply had to be a way. I went back to university to get a Masters degree in Hearing Impairment and Speech Development and I used the skills I was learning to teach Nathan to speak through lip reading and feeling his throat as at that time there was no technology which could give him access to sound. Building on my experience and working with deaf children came naturally after that. I wanted to show that low expectations of deaf children are as unfounded as they were for Nathan; given the right support, they can achieve just as much as their hearing peers. Today’s technology makes this an achievable goal for most children with hearing loss. Is this when you became an Auditory Verbal Therapist? No, in fact the first thing I did was establish a special hearing impairment and speech development unit at a local school in Wiltshire, before I moved to New Zealand in 2002. I initially worked at the Kelston Deaf Education Centre which was an oral and signing provision for school aged children. I was then introduced to an organisation called Hearing House, an Auditory Verbal Centre whose sole focus is to teach deaf children to listen and speak. I joined as a therapist and completed my Auditory Verbal training with them. I was then Programme Manager and able to train others in the field and stayed for 15 very happy years. What would you say is your favourite thing about being an Auditory Verbal therapist? Although I’ve always enjoyed working with children, for me the best part of my job is guiding parents on how to help their children themselves. Over the years I’ve seen incredible outcomes for deaf children and their families. Seeing the elation of parents when their child utters their first word makes the job so rewarding. There is so much stress and anxiety for parents surrounding the challenges their children face that watching them work through this as their child succeeds really makes it all worthwhile. What are you most looking forward to in your future at AVUK? AVUK was recently featured on BBC lifeline, which gave us the opportunity to showcase what we do and how we transform the lives of deaf children. I’m so excited to see what this publicity will bring. Hopefully some people out there will see the film and it will encourage them to raise their expectations of what is possible for deaf children and maybe inspire them to become Auditory Verbal therapists themselves! You can watch our BBC Lifeline Appeal here.