Nicky – Tom’s Mum

At 21 months old our son Tom contracted meningitis – he was not expected to walk again and predictions were that he would be cognitively impaired.

When the audiologist told us Tom was profoundly deaf, we were worried what his future might look like, but also just happy he was alive.

After he was discharged there were so many appointments, including, for us, a referral for cochlear implants and just five weeks after his diagnosis he had his implant surgery.

Tom had never stopped talking, but his speech had started to be become less clear and we wanted to ensure he developed spoken language and communication so he could have the best opportunities in life. With support and information from the  Cochlear Implanted Childrens Support Group (CICS) we started Auditory Verbal therapy at charity Auditory Verbal UK.

At the time we were living in Nottingham and travelled to the Auditory Verbal UK’s centre in Oxfordshire every two weeks. It was a huge commitment to make that journey with a young child, but we knew we wanted to do everything we could to enable him to fulfil his potential. For our family that was supporting Tom to listen and speak on a par with his hearing peers.

We learnt how Auditory Verbal therapy helps deaf children make sense of what they are hearing through their hearing technology like cochlear implants to understand and develop spoken language. It made perfect sense using play and everyday situations to develop his talking skills and with the support of the programme Tom developed speaking skills expected of a hearing child of his age. 

We moved to Edinburgh in 2008 when Tom was four and thanks to Auditory Verbal therapy he started  at a mainstream school and, despite sometimes needing help and support to enable his learning environment to be optimal, he especially excelled in sixth form achieving the grades to study at Stirling University studying film, media and journalism.

After his first year at Uni he spent the summer as a counsellor at AmeriCamp. We are so proud of the young man he has become – looking back to the time when he was so ill it is amazing and being deaf has never held him back and certainly isn’t affecting any of his plans for the future.


I’ve always accepted being deaf and my cochlear implants as part of me. At school I have always done the same things as my friends and that is thanks to Auditory Verbal therapy when I was younger I can speak like hearing people.

I was really proud to get my place at university. Moving away from home is always nerve racking but with the addition of being deaf I was concerned how I would manage. I have had support when needed but made new friends, got a job as a waiter and I also work with the university television station.

After the first year of my degree I spent the summer as a counsellor at AmeriCamp. Once again I was nervous but reassured with news that things like a vibrating alarm clock would be provided to help support me.

During the summer many people I met were surprise to learn I was deaf and it was great to be a role model of what deaf people can achieve. I really enjoyed explaining to the kids what my cochlear implants were and how they worked and I gained a lot of amusement from explaining to the campers that I am technically a cyborg.

All the campers and other counsellors were really supportive and they always made sure that I could hear what was going on and what was being said. Meeting a deaf person definitely had a positive affect on the children.

I learnt such a lot at the camp and it’s so important to know that being deaf doesn’t stop you from doing anything. I know how lucky I was to have the support soon after my implants to listen and speak like my hearing friends.

I am so excited about the life I have in front of me - the world is not behind a closed door. Some things are more difficult but amazing experiences and opportunities are everywhere – being deaf is not a barrier it is something that makes you an individual.