Read Evie’s story
"Evie was born in October 2014, when her newborn screening test raised the possibility of deafness. Following diagnosis, Evie was given hearing aids at around 5 weeks old and as parents we soon found we had lots to learn, lots of appointments to attend, lots of choices to make.
"We have no family member with the same deafness as Evie, but my husband Patrick has a cousin with a BAHA (a bone-anchored hearing aid), so it was really useful, if slightly daunting at the time, to talk to our wider family about their experiences.
"As we started to meet other parents of deaf children, we kept hearing about The Elizabeth Foundation baby, toddler and preschool programmes. We were initially a little reluctant to visit the charity as everyone said it was so good and we were concerned that we’d visit, think it was amazing, and need to come down here every day. Life was so busy with Evie attending medical appointments and slowly gaining language (with a lot of work), and we couldn’t see how we could fit in the 2-hour round trip to The Elizabeth Foundation every day. There are a lot of activities, places, techniques, etc that you hear about as a parent of a deaf child, including The Elizabeth Foundation, and it’s easy to feel guilty about not trying all of them to give your child the best opportunities.
"We finally signed up (last minute) to The Elizabeth Foundation's 2018 summer residential programme, and whilst chatting to Julie (the CEO) on the phone, we realised that there was no expectation for a child to attend the preschool every day. In fact, children are encouraged to attend both The Elizabeth Foundation and a local nursery (a setting for hearing children) so they can learn and socialise with their peer group, both hearing and deaf. As there was only one space left in preschool for the following September we provisionally signed Evie up to attend education sessions 1 day a week, thinking we’d make a final decision about regular attendance after the week-long summer programme.
"The summer programme was amazing – Evie had a great time in class with an experienced Teacher of the Deaf and Teaching Assistant to support her. The parent education presentations by both qualified staff and former pupils (now adults themselves) were really helpful.
"Sadly, we have learned over the past few years that deaf children are not always as well supported as they should be. As a parent it can be exhausting having to ‘fight’ for support for your child and it was helpful to be able to talk with people who share this experience. At The Elizabeth Foundation things are different, everything ‘just happens’ – all the staff are expertly qualified, knowledgeable and the support programmes are so joined up.
"Evie has really enjoyed attending specialist education sessions at The Elizabeth Foundation this year, taking part in a wide range of activities and making new friends and it has been good preparation for school.
"She now has her cochlear implants (implanted the summer before we finally found The Elizabeth Foundation) and her language has really taken off. The regular input from her Teacher of the Deaf and the Speech and Language Therapists at The Elizabeth Foundation made such a difference, identifying areas to work on together, and giving us as parents the guidance and practical support that we needed.
"Through her Wednesday sessions at The Elizabeth Foundation, Evie has become comfortable with the use of a radio aid and has become much better at concentrating during focused learning sessions – both of which will benefit her hugely when she starts school this September.
"The Elizabeth Foundation has also been so useful for us as a reference point – Evie’s local nursery Teacher, Speech and Language Therapist and future school SENCO have all been encouraged to visit the family centre, as we see this place as an example of best practice in educating deaf children. All these visitors have been so impressed with The Elizabeth Foundation's staff, teaching methods and learning outcomes for children and have said that they will model the techniques they have learnt within their own settings.
"We are hopeful that when Evie starts school this September – a local mainstream school – she will be able to keep up with her peers as a result of the early support she has received, and that if her new school does need any guidance in how to support her needs … we can refer them to The Elizabeth Foundation!"
"At The Elizabeth Foundation things are different, everything ‘just happens’ - all the staff are expertly qualified, knowledgeable and the support programmes are so joined up..."