A mum is taking on the London Landmarks Half Marathon to help raise funds and awareness of the charity which supported her deaf 10-year-old to learn to listen and speak and start achieving his dreams.
Irina Tiselita wants other families with deaf children to know more about the work of Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK) and its vision that deaf children should have the same chances as hearing children – on International Cochlear Implant Day (February 25th)
Irina’s son David was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss at two weeks old after failing his newborn hearing test.
At three months he was fitted with hearing aids and just before he was a year-old, David had his cochlear implant surgery at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
She said: “I found out about Auditory Verbal UK online and started attending sessions even before his surgery. AVUK changed our lives.
It has been the best intervention for David’s speech, language, socialisation and development skills and AVUK has been amazing and supportive every step of the way. It took a lot of effort and determination, but it was worth it.”
David is now in Year 6, soon to start secondary school.
His proud Mum said: “David is a very popular and sociable 10-year-old with language skills in both English and Romanian.
He spends the summer holidays in Romania, where his grandparents live and speaks solely Romanian.
People there are always impressed with his ability to speak both languages and switch from one language to the other.
“We were concerned about David learning to listen and speak full stop and worried that trying to teach a deaf child two languages was just not doable, but AVUK not only made us believe it was possible but proved it was possible.
“Without the fantastic support we had from AVUK I am not sure how David would have developed and thrived the way he has.
We are so glad we found out about them early on and we had the amazing opportunity to turn what seemed to be a sad and worrying experience into a fun and optimistic one.
“We are so proud of him. His teachers say that in school he is always engaged and confident to ask questions and seeks answers to clarify.
He is a valued member of his class and children look up to him. He loves his little sister, has a great sense of humour and has big dreams and aspirations.
“I am so pleased to be taking on the London Landmarks Half Marathon in April to give something back to AVUK to thank them for everything they have done for David and us as a family.”
AVUK is the only UK based charity offering the specialist Auditory Verbal therapy programme to support deaf children to learn to listen and speak.
Chief Executive Anita Grover explained: “At AVUK, we want to see a world where all deaf children have the same opportunities in life as hearing children.
There are approximately 7,200 deaf children under the age of five in the UK who currently face the prospect of lower academic achievement, lower employment, and are at higher risk of poor mental health, bullying and social exclusion.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. When children and families have access to effective, early support, deaf children can get an equal start at school and opportunities are transformed.”
Four out of five children who attend AVUK achieve the same spoken language as their hearing peers and many attend mainstream school.
But only a tiny proportion of deaf children can currently access Auditory Verbal programmes in the UK.
Anita added: “Early support should be available for all deaf children whether their parents choose to communicate with spoken language, sign language or a combination.
We want to enable all families who wish their child to develop spoken language to have the opportunity to access an Auditory Verbal programme through publicly funded services.
To do that we need to expand the number of specialist Auditory Verbal therapists working in the NHS and local services.
“With an investment of £21.5m over the next 10 years, we can provide a sound future for deaf children and unlock an economic benefit of £152m, rising to £11.7billion over 50 years.”