Category: National Deaf Children's Society
Posted on 12.05.2022
In 2006, after decades of campaigning by the National Deaf Children’s Society, newborn hearing screening was introduced across the UK. All children now have a hearing test in their first few weeks. Early diagnosis means that more deaf children get the help and support they need, sooner.
But, 35 years ago, Ruth and her deaf son Michael had a very different experience. When Michael was born, Ruth was working with deaf adults. She went on to be a professional Teacher of the Deaf (ToD).
“We felt something wasn’t right with Michael’s hearing very early on. He was our second child, and it was clear that he wasn’t turning when called, like his sister did. But he passed a hearing test at eight months, using a high frequency rattle shaken behind him. As a very inquisitive child, he was responding, knowing someone was there.
“My health visitor agreed things weren’t right and she got us an appointment at the Audiology Department at Manchester Children’s Hospital. There were six specialists in the room, doing all sorts of tests – nothing was properly explained in those days. And then I was told, ‘he is a very deaf little boy, isn’t he?’ which was shocking to hear put so bluntly.”
At a time before the internet, Ruth was left to make phone calls to try and get support – finding the National Deaf Children’s Society through Directory Enquiries. The family attended National Deaf Children’s Society weekends, where they could take part in fun activities and meet other families of deaf children.
“I went to the local National Deaf Children’s Society support group, where at the time there were about 15 families – I ended up the Chair! The group was so important to me and helped us learn as parents that we could make informed choices and to speak up for ourselves and our children.”