Members area



Don't have a login?

Join us

Become a member

  • Connect with others through events, workshops, campaigns and our NEW online forum, Your Community
  • Discover information and insights in our resource hub and receive the latest updates via email
  • Access one-to-one support and tailored services which help reduce barriers for deaf children
Menu Open mobile desktop menu

Danny’s advice for dads

As we approach Father’s Day, Danny tells us about his experience of being a new dad to a deaf child.

Zack may only be two years old, but his personality is certainly shining through. “He’s a real cheeky chappy already,” dad Danny says fondly. “We’ve definitely seen his personality blossom over the last six months.”

Born just after the peak of the pandemic, Danny and his wife Jodie had to navigate Covid restrictions for the birth. “I had to leave the hospital, so I missed the newborn hearing screening and Jodie was relaying to me afterwards that he hadn’t passed,” explains Danny.

“They told us to come back when he was three days old, but I’d just started a new job so had no parental leave and I couldn’t go. Jodie messaged me from the appointment saying, ‘You need to come in.’ That was when we were told he was severely deaf in his left ear and profoundly deaf in his right. It was difficult not being able to be there. From then on, I had to be there for every appointment.

“With work, it’s been a constant balance. I think it’s important to be honest with your employer about what’s happening. As soon as I was, it was amazing. I found out my boss has a twin brother who’s deaf in one ear and suddenly there was this connection.”

Jodie and Danny worked as a team and threw themselves into online research. “Some of it was helpful, some of it wasn’t,” says Danny. “We were just desperate for some hope at that point.

“After Zack’s hearing aids were fitted at three weeks old, we felt we could either feel sorry for ourselves or we could immerse ourselves and fully embrace it. Don’t get me wrong, there were tears and ups and downs, and at times there still are, but we threw ourselves into the journey and soon found many reasons to be positive.

“We spoke to our Teacher of the Deaf very early on and she told us stories of children she had worked with from birth through to 18 years old. She said lots of the children she worked with were now flying at university. It meant so much to us when we were feeling so fragile.”

Since then, the new parents have been keen to try everything and Danny’s found that, like with his employer, the most important thing is to be honest about where you’re at and how you’re feeling. “We’ve attended many National Deaf Children’s Society events and I’ve found, particularly as a guy, you have to be open to get as much out of it as you can. You can’t put a brave face on it all of the time.

“We started learning British Sign Language (BSL) Level 1 at adult college in the evenings too, which has been challenging but amazing!”

One of Danny’s main focuses has been making sure Zack has a strong deaf identity. “My biggest fear is that he won’t be comfortable with who he is,” explains Danny. “Jodie and I aren’t deaf so we’ve thrown ourselves into the deaf community to learn as much as possible. But we know we’ll never have the same experience as him, so we want to allow him to make his own decisions when he’s older. We want him to have speech and BSL so he can choose one or both when he’s older.

“We’ve bought books with deaf characters and various toys with hearing aids. At Christmas we even had a naughty elf with hearing aids! Zack always points the hearing aids out now, so we know it’s paid off. He’s very young but we can already see that awareness is there and we hope it develops into self-confidence.”

One thing Danny has found hard is when people stare at Zack’s hearing aids. “I always forget and wonder, ‘Why are you looking at my son and whispering?’ You feel defensive,” says Danny. “It just goes back to awareness; I need to be comfortable with approaching them and talking to them about Zack’s hearing aids so that he feels comfortable doing it when he’s older too.”

Zack is now going through the cochlear implant assessment process, which is a new learning curve. “We recently found out that his deafness is progressive so the hospital recommended we went for a cochlear implant assessment,” says Danny. “It did feel like we took a couple of steps back because we felt shock and denial again.

“But we’ve worked through it. It’s helped that we’ve met children with cochlear implants and we’ve done lots of research. It’s a constant journey, some days you wake up super positive and some days you don’t, but ultimately your child is going to be in a better position if you don’t bury your head in the sand. The more information you take on board, the better the decision you can make.

“I think as a guy, and I’ve seen it with my NCT group, you often just deal with stuff in your head on your own. The best advice I can give other dads of deaf children is to make sure you talk, communicate and be open.

“I don’t open up with my friends as much as I could. Men aren’t always going to ask, so you have to actually bring it up and be open about it. The first conversation might not be the greatest but it’ll bring some awareness to what’s going on in your life.

“Sometimes, when going out to work, you don’t feel like you’re pulling your weight on the appointments side, but you can’t help it if you can’t make every appointment or every group. Don’t beat yourself up about it, but ask the questions after. Be more engaged because you weren’t there.

“Remember, your deaf child is still just a child. Zack and I play football in the garden, we play cars, we ride his scooter and we do all the things I thought I would do with my son. Zack just rocks his hearing aids when we do them!”

Summer 2023 Families magazine