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Jack's deaf awareness support

Photo: Jack's story

It’s double trouble for Karis and Paul with four-year-old twins Jack and Kali, whose connection has been invaluable for Jack, who is profoundly deaf.

Jack was diagnosed as moderately deaf in both ears aged three. “His first newborn hearing test gave no echo response,” Karis recalls, “but a few days later the second one did so we didn’t worry.

Time went on and it was only when the twins started playgroup at two that we realised something wasn’t right. Jack would go into his own little world, and seemed like a daydreamer.

“We were shocked when he was diagnosed with a hearing loss and needed hearing aids.”

“He started nursery at three, and struggled in an environment with lots of background noise. He would sit alone in the corner and that’s when we arranged for another hearing test.

We thought perhaps there was a build up of wax, or even glue ear, but were shocked when he was diagnosed with a hearing loss and needed hearing aids.

“My reaction to Jack’s diagnosis was guilt,” Karis remembers. “I felt guilty for all the times I’d told him off for not listening. Then I started researching online and found out that the National Deaf Children’s Society Roadshow Bus was in our area. So Jack had his hearing aids fitted on the Wednesday, and we visited the Roadshow on the Friday!

"It quickly became clear to us that there was a lot to understand about deafness."

“It was a real coincidence, but a great chance to ask all our questions. Jack saw older children trying out new technology, and we left with a wealth of information.

It quickly became clear to us that there was a lot to understand about deafness, so we signed up for the National Deaf Children’s Society Newly Identified Weekend.”

“That was a really helpful event,” Paul remembers, “and we left with two main objectives – to get involved with the deaf community and to learn sign language. We met another family with a deaf son a few years older than Jack and we’ve kept in touch.

“Although we don’t know the cause of Jack’s deafness, we do know it’s progressive. We have videos of him at about two and he can pronounce higher frequency sounds like “f” quite clearly. Now he really struggles with those – he’ll say ‘dish’ instead of ‘fish’, so he prefers to sign those words instead.

The family sign languages classes have been really valuable to give him that option, and Kali’s picking it up quickly too.”

“She’s his little spy,” Karis chuckles. “We’re sure the connection between Jack and Kali has really benefitted him. Jack’s Teacher of the Deaf can’t believe how well he’s doing!

Considering his hearing loss went undetected for some time, his learning and development haven’t suffered. Kali’s like his shadow, helping him when he doesn’t understand. And when we don’t understand him, she knows what he means and interprets for us.”

“They both really enjoy going along to our local deaf children’s group too,” says Paul. “The group here is new – it started about a year ago. We started going in the summer and have become really involved.

"It’s fantastic to have a community of families with deaf children on our doorstep."

“We’re lucky because the twins’ school is keen to make sure everyone’s deaf aware,” Karis adds. “Jack’s taken things into school to show the rest of his class for show and tell, including a book with the signs alongside.

His teacher also read out a lovely story with a deaf character so the class could understand about Jack.”

“Jack’s deafness is progressive and he’s now profoundly deaf in both ears,” Paul concludes. “But it’s fantastic to have a community of families with deaf children on our doorstep.

We’re part of something, and we want to reach out to as many people as possible to raise deaf awareness.”