What seemed like a typical childhood infection turned into a harrowing eight-night stay in hospital for Otto and his parents, Tom and Abigail.

Otto, then just one and a half, became very ill and was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Whilst he responded well to antibiotics over the first few days, escaping the very real threat of brain damage or worse, when they finally got home his parents became concerned that his hearing had been affected.

Tom said: “It was clear that Otto had completely lost his ability to balance and after a few days at home we began to realise that he wasn’t hearing us or responding in the way that we had been used to. Our suspicions of profound deafness were confirmed the following week by the team at Great Ormond Street."

“Three and a half weeks after Otto contracted meningitis, he underwent cochlear implant surgery.”

It wasn’t until around six weeks after his implantation that Otto began showing signs that he could hear sound and at the same time the team at GOSH introduced the family to AVUK.

Tom explained: “We had great support from the audiology team at GOSH but felt that a more focused therapy made sense and so from January 2022 Otto started his AVUK journey, taking to the therapy in his typical enthusiastic way.”

“For us, the reassuring and positive approach was just what we needed after the traumatic experience we had been through.”

“Otto made, and continues to make, rapid and incredible progress in his speech and language and we have seen his vocabulary, clarity, and sentence construction improve on an almost weekly basis (as well as improvement in his balance!). Just a week after his second birthday he was assessed as having a speech and comprehension age of two years and seven months.”

And Tom added: “Otto is still in the relatively early stages of his time with AVUK but his speech and language seem to be progressing at a rapid pace and we are immensely proud of our superstar little boy who has endured so much, always with a smile on his face, to get to where his is today. Our story is by no means complete but it is fair to say that AVUK has given him the best possible start following his deafness caused by meningitis less than a year ago.

“We will be eternally grateful to the NHS doctors and nurses for the way that they treated Otto during the acute phase of his meningitis, ultimately saving his life.  But we feel strongly that the therapy that AVUK provides is unmatched by anything that is provided by the NHS or local authority and it is not an overstatement to say that it is highly unlikely that Otto would be at the stage he is at today without the crucial AVUK sessions.

“This kind of therapy should be offered as a matter of course for any child with speech and language challenges in their crucial formative years.”