At 8 months our daughter, Seraphima or Sima for short, was diagnosed with impaired hearing. The doctors gave her a hearing aid and said that it was too early to do anything more. Our child was small, and it was too early tostart therapy. Maybe the sounds that she heard with her hearing aid would be enough for her to develop speech. After a year, when she is walking, we could start working with a teacher for the deaf. If it would be effective, then we could start thinking about a cochlear implant when she is two.
We really didn’t want to lose any time. Unfortunately, at the city’s centre for the deaf there are only two specialists that work with children under 3. The waiting list is several months long . . .
I called the Club, whose number I had been given along with some others, and heard the response I had been waiting so long for: “Of course, you must come! It doesn’t matter that she is small, the activities will help her. If they don’t get tired, we can even do extra work with babies.” You didn’t need documentation, medical notes, referral from a specialist or money. Nothing, just the child herself. It was a miracle!
We visited once a week over several months – not much for a year-old baby, but the effect was colossal. When we are at the door to the club a smile appears on our daughter’s face, and she hurries into the centre onto the rug where the activities take place. We usually only leave after two hours of uninterrupted activity! (compared with the usual 20 minute sessions). The satisfaction that our daughter gets from the activities enables her to pick things up at the same pace as some of the older children. She knows all the songs and games off by heart and plays them on her own at home. She started to babble, and then to say her first baby words. She also developed a sense of rhythm and could recognise and hum along to tunes. The teachers at the other places, who were seeing our daughter for the first time were surprised by her concentration span and by her willingness to do learning activities. We hadn’t been able to wish for half such progress!
We parents receive a lot of support too. After the noisy games we drink tea together and the adults talk. The teachers and the parents, who have already been through a lot, are willing to share their experiences, useful contacts, and simply to help. Mums, Dads, and grannies of other children surround you with understanding and support. Instead of feeling “what a long path is ahead of me until my child is well”, we feel “together we’ve got it all sorted out!”. The parents’ experience, the constant attention of the specialists and the progress we see in the children running around – you won’t find this in any other centre, and this is what supports us more than anything else.
Our daughter is 19 months old now. If it wasn’t for the club we would be just starting to work on the problems with her hearing. Now, thanks to the help of the Club’s specialists and parents, we have already had an operation to fit a cochlear implant and our daughter has said her first words. There is a chance that she will go to a mainstream kindergarten and school. Precious time was not lost. It is a shame that the club only takes children until they are 3. We hope to keep growing with the club for longer.
Hats off to the amazing teachers, who make my daughter smile and clap as soon as she sees them, and who give us confidence that she will be fine!
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