Ffion-Hâf is thriving in schoolPublished Date: 17 Nov 2022
Hi! I’m Kristy, mum to Macsen (16) and Ffion-Hâf (13), who is profoundly deaf. I’m also a Qualified Teacher of the Deaf (QToD) working in South Wales.
Ffion-Hâf is a bilateral cochlear implant user. However, earlier this year she spent six weeks in hospital where she was treated for a very rare and serious ear infection. Consequently, one of her implants had to be removed. She has been rather unfortunate as this is the third time it has happened. Nevertheless, Ffion-Hâf continues to amaze us with her strength, courage and positive outlook on life.
We know that hearing through a cochlear implant doesn’t restore normal hearing; however, it does give people who are profoundly D/deaf access to sound, meaning that Ffion-Hâf has struggled immensely with only one. At home we’ve noticed that we have to repeat everything much more, make the TV louder, and turn off the radio during mealtimes to reduce background noise. Town centres can be problematic with all the environmental sounds, and car journeys are more difficult now too. We often find that she removes her one implant much more frequently as having to listen through a cochlear implant is exhausting. Auditory fatigue is a real issue for many deaf children and is hugely misunderstood.
At the start of this year, she missed several months of school as a result of being hospitalised and because she was bullied for being Deaf. There was talk of the possibility of her re-sitting the school year; however, she is currently in Year 8 in a mainstream secondary school in Cardiff and absolutely thriving! She has many new friends and is a popular member of the year which has really boosted her confidence. Her school, and in particular her Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo), have been phenomenal in ensuring that adjustments have been made so that she has access to the curriculum at all times. Her self-advocacy skills have greatly improved also: she’s able to tell her 1:1 if the teacher isn’t clear or if she doesn’t understand. She’s a member of the school’s netball team and enjoys training and playing with them twice a week. Her teammates are deaf aware and know to wave their hand to get her attention.
During her hospital stay, we experienced first-hand the severe lack of understanding around deafness and the fact that no one was able to communicate with Ffion-Hâf through British Sign Language (BSL). As a result of this, I’ve developed a new platform on social media called Hands 2 Hear. It was designed with Ffion-Hâf in mind and aims to give caregivers, teachers and professionals resources, advice and information and on how to help and improve the lives of children and young people who are D/deaf. Everything is delivered through the medium of English and Welsh, and there are also regular BSL videos on there which are captioned. As a mum to a profoundly deaf child and a QToD, I feel that this will be a really useful platform for all. Please share with family, friends and colleagues alike!