Deaf children have defied the odds and showcased their festive singing skills in a bid to help others with hearing loss.
Sam, now seven, was diagnosed as deaf at just five weeks old and was fitted with cochlear implants just before his first birthday.
His parents Andrew and Jo decided to try Auditory Verbal therapy with the charity Auditory Verbal UK shortly after his implants were ‘switched on’.
“We thought that we would never be able to speak to his friends, we wouldn’t hear his views and opinions on life, culture, politics and more importantly, would he ever be able to hear us tell him we love him?” His father Andrew said.
“In addition to the expert speech therapy approach we wanted, we came to realise that we would get a lot of invaluable support along the way. Both procedural and emotional. AVUK have held our hand and shown us that it isn’t scary at all.”
Sam is among 12 young people, each with permanent hearing loss, to have joined in singing lines from the “12 Days of Christmas” to raise awareness of the charity during the festive season.
The video is aimed at challenging perceptions of what deaf children can do and demonstrates the impact of Auditory Verbal therapy – a specialist programme for families.
Auditory Verbal therapy aims to develop spoken language through listening. By getting sound to the brain through cochlear implants or hearing aids, the approach helps the child’s brain to develop listening skills rather than relying solely or partly on visual cues.
Children learn through playing with their therapist while parents and carers are taught how to develop their child’s listening, talking, thinking and social skills.
Auditory Verbal therapy is a mainstream approach in the North America and Australasia, but in the UK only 5 per cent of deaf children currently have access to it.
Auditory Verbal UK provides a programme for families across the UK from its two centres in London and Oxfordshire and is working to increase the number of specialist therapists in the NHS and local services so that families have an opportunity to access a programme close to where they live.
“Eighty per cent of the children that we work with for two plus years on our fortnightly programme achieve the same spoken language skills as hearing children of their age. Most do this by the time that they start school and most are in mainstream schools,” said Anita Grover, CEO of Auditory Verbal UK. “As a charity, we rely on the generous support of individuals and organisations. This enables us to provide the programme to families across the UK through a bursary scheme and support practitioners to train in this specialist approach.
“We want to be able to reach many more families across the UK and hope you can help us to reach that goal.