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Why we love our Teacher of the Deaf

Published Date: 21 Mar 2024

One of the people who has remained a consistent part of Faith's life is her Teacher of the Deaf (ToD), Kirsti. Kirsti first came into our lives when Faith was nine weeks old and we were at audiology getting her first hearing aids. Afterwards she would come to our house every two weeks to see Faith and to talk to me about anything that I was concerned about or wanted to know more about.

The one thing I was really grateful for was the fact that Kirsti could sign. I’m deaf myself, and I made the decision that I wanted Faith to be bilingual, so we started using British Sign Language (BSL) from birth. Having a ToD that signed was simply amazing.

Faith was bilaterally implanted with cochlear implants when she was 16 months old, and Kirsti was a big support in helping us to teach her to talk. She was there to reassure me it was normal when Faith decided that taking her implants off and hiding/throwing them was more fun than wearing them!

Faith started nursery when she was three years old, and Kirsti went in to help the staff understand how her implants work, teach them deaf awareness and so on.

A few months after Faith started, she was officially diagnosed with Selective Mutism [NHS website]. She spoke at home with us and also with Kirsti, but no one else got the privilege of hearing her voice for a long time. Kirsti played a huge role in doing the ‘sliding in’ method recommended by her speech therapist. This was a method to gradually build up Faith’s confidence and trust to speak in front of her keyworker in nursery. Kirsti was also able to tell other professionals how Faith’s speech was progressing as she was the only one outside of family that Faith was relaxed enough to chatter away to about anything!

Lockdown came. I was so worried that this would set Faith back with regards to her Selective Mutism, but Kirsti made sure to video call most weeks so that Faith could still see her and interact with her. Faith would always grab some toys and just sit blethering away to Kirsti. The nursery would put videos on every week, but we struggled with that as, being deaf myself, I often couldn’t follow what was being said. Kirsti would translate some of the videos. She also made visuals for most of the songs which I printed, and it helped Faith to still be a part of her nursery learning.

When the time came for Faith to start school, Kirsti made sure the staff understood how to work her Roger touchscreen, gave deaf awareness tips and so much more to ensure the transition went smoothly. Kirsti would go in two times a week to support Faith and sort any issues out.

Two years passed by quickly with Faith settled and happy. She was well supported, with Kirsti making sure her school were doing everything they should be doing to support her. A few issues cropped up towards the end of Primary 2 which we managed to resolve with Kirsti and her teacher’s help. Faith was making amazing progress with her Selective Mutism too.

Summer holidays came, and we started to notice Faith was struggling more than normal. We assumed it was the change in routine and the fact that she was having constant problems with her speech processors. She had seven new replacement processors in ten months, which caused a lot of frustration and anxiety for her.

Sadly, when she started Primary 3, she started to struggle a lot more. She lost a lot of confidence, and her Selective Mutism regressed at home and in school. Her meltdowns were getting worse, and then she started to get school anxiety. It got to the point where she stopped going to school most days. She only went into school when Kirsti was in the two days a week, and we had to often have Kirsti come to the car or meet us outside the school to encourage Faith to go in. Kirsti was the only person Faith felt safe with and could talk to.

The school anxiety got worse and worse until she stopped attending for two weeks. At this point, Kirsti came to our house and for three hours she just sat and listened to both myself and Faith about everything and said that she would do her best to find ways to help Faith.

Meetings were held, paperwork done for referrals, lots of little interventions were put into place, including more adult support as well as Kirsti getting a communication support worker (CSW) to come into school to support Faith. Kirsti also helped with making a social story about horse riding which really benefited Faith and helped to ease her anxiety. 

Kirsti has gone above and beyond with all the support and help she has done, especially in the last six months, which have been the hardest for Faith. Kirsti’s support has helped Faith to know that she has an adult she can trust and be comfortable with outside our immediate family. Without Kirsti, I honestly don't think Faith would be where she is now with her schooling. Things are still challenging, but knowing she has the support of her ToD makes things slightly easier.


Jenni and her husband Warren are both profoundly deaf and have cochlear implants. They're parents to Leo, Lucas, Reuben and Faith. Faith (7) is profoundly deaf and wears bilateral cochlear implants. They use a combination of British Sign Language (BSL), Sign Supported English (SSE) and speech at home.