Advocating for GeorgePublished Date: 16 Nov 2023
Advocating for George has become part and parcel of our lives. When George was really young, we had to take him to our local urgent care unit as he was quite poorly. It was not during Covid, and face masks were no longer compulsory. However, we were greeted by a nurse wearing a face mask.
I explained that George was profoundly deaf, but she proceeded to quite intrusively examine George with no adjustment to her communication. George relies on facial expressions and lip patterns to engage with you, and so without this, he was really upset. I left the room feeling upset that a professional did not treat my baby with the respect that he should receive and that I did not speak up more.
I saw our Teacher of the Deaf and told her about this experience, and she explained George’s rights and that I should speak up if I’m not happy with something.
Since that day, at every appointment or when meeting someone new, I advise them that George is deaf and how best to approach him. Let him familiarise himself with your face and the environment before approaching him, and do not get in his face or touch him until he looks content for you to do so. If this means an appointment takes a few minutes longer than expected, then so be it, but I will always ensure that George’s needs are met.
When George was first diagnosed, I didn’t really know what a cochlear implant was, but I remember thinking, “He can have hearing aids, but I don’t want him to have that wire thing.” How naïve and silly was I? Looking back, it was the fear of a device I didn’t know anything about making me think that, but now I know what it is and what it does, I think it’s an amazing piece of technology, and I’m proud George has his.
The majority of the time when I tell people that George was born profoundly deaf and has cochlear implants, they start asking questions. What are they? How do they work? Did he have an operation for them? Does he have full hearing?
The more questions people ask, the better. The majority of people aren’t familiar with cochlear implants, just like I wasn’t, and the only way to familiarise people is to educate them. Every time I have answered people’s questions, they’re in awe at how amazing technology is.
Taking those extra few seconds to explain about George’s hearing has always been worthwhile and has led to a more positive experience for all involved. As a mother, I’m fiercely protective of George, but I’m also fiercely proud of everything he has overcome in life to become the happy, noisy, little boy he is.