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Billy’s moderate deafness

Photo: Billy's story

Elizabeth battled to get a formal diagnosis of deafness and the right support for her moderately deaf son Billy, 11. But with our support he’s growing in confidence all the time.

When Elizabeth picked out her son in the clamour of children and saw the beaming smile on his face, she knew the weekend had been a success. Moderately deaf Billy sometimes lacked confidence so she’d booked him on a First Time Away weekend.

"No one took my worries seriously."

“Billy’s deafness gets overlooked because it’s moderate,” says Elizabeth. “But he struggles and often feels alone. The event showed him there are other deaf children out there.”

Since Billy was a baby he’d had countless ear infections. Regular hearing tests showed his hearing was down, but doctors attributed this to a cold or infection.

Elizabeth wasn’t convinced. She and husband Gary also have two hearing daughters and it was obvious things were different with Billy. “We’d always have to repeat ourselves to Billy,” says Elizabeth. “In the garden, beside a noisy road, he’d struggle to hear, but no one took my worries seriously.”

At age six, ENT doctors thought Billy had glue ear and fitted two sets of grommets but it made no difference.

Finally, when Billy started junior school, doctors identified mild hearing loss and fitted hearing aids.

“It made a massive difference,” says Elizabeth. “But I felt so angry and let down – he’d been through infant school unable to hear properly, learned to lipread instinctively.”

Social services suggested Billy might be eligible for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and told them we could help them apply. But, with a mild loss and no official Individual Education Plan (IEP) at school, they were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Billy’s ear infections worsened. With lots of discharge in his left ear, he was often unable to wear his aid. Doctors discovered the eardrum was badly ruptured and he was now moderately deaf.

Surgeons performed a tympanoplasty, a skin graft to repair the hole, but were unable to repair it completely and he needs further surgery.

At school, Billy was given an advisory IEP and with a moderate hearing loss, Elizabeth reapplied for DLA – with success.

“Billy feels alone sometimes, though he has one or two good friends at school,” says Elizabeth. “But many friends have been girls and now they’re growing up they’ve grown apart.”

“We’re so proud of his achievements!”

Billy’s experience on the First Time Away weekend boosted his confidence and self-esteem.

“He met other deaf children, realised he wasn’t the only one,” says Elizabeth. “He saw children with cochlear implants, others who needed one-to-one carers – he realised there are others with a variety of needs.”

Billy, who enjoys drama and dance, went on a Get Creative Film-Making weekend last year, where he helped write, film and act in a film called ‘Cake’, which was submitted to the Deaf Fest youth category.

This September sees his transition to secondary school. It’s a big step and Elizabeth feels anxious.

“It’s down to Billy now,” she says. “I’m quite scared. He loses things, forgets his radio aid receiver… I can’t always be there to help him.”

But she’s armed herself with our DVDs to help the school become deaf aware and learn about Billy’s needs.

“It’s been a learning curve, and we’ve learnt what to do to get the right support for him. But we’re so proud of his achievements!”