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Invaluable support for little Jack

For Ruth and Paul Neesham the last year has been something of a roller coaster ride.  The joy following the birth of their second son Jack, soon turned to devastation when a Newborn Hearing Test, a procedure commonplace since 2006 thanks to campaigning by NDCS, revealed that Jack was severely to profoundly deaf.

Ruth explains, “I didn’t want to cry, but then I just sobbed.  I couldn’t stop.  Ninety per cent of deaf children are born to hearing families like ours.  And you have no idea how to cope with it.”

When Jack was still only 10 weeks old, the family, including four-year-old brother, Adam, attended their first NDCS Family Weekend, one which was specifically for families of newly diagnosed deaf children.  Ruth says, “We met people who had been in our position and you can see how far you can come.” Paul adds, “It was inspirational to hear their stories, knowing there is a light at what was a very dark tunnel in the early days.  We walked away from the weekend with a spring in our step, something just a few weeks earlier we wouldn’t have thought possible.”

Since then, the Neesham’s have found NDCS invaluable, “without NDCS we would have been completely lost, I wouldn’t have known where to start, what appointments we would need, where to meet other families, or what Jack’s future prospects are” says Ruth.

With support from the telephone helpline as well as face-to-face visits from a Family Officer, Ruth and Paul have been able to come to terms with Jack’s diagnosis as well as receive practical advice on hearing aids, learning British Sign Language, and claiming Disability Living Allowance. 

The services provided by NDCS, which as a Childlife supporter you are helping to pay for, provide a lifeline for families faced with the prospect of raising a deaf child.  As Jack’s mum points out, most deaf children are born to families who have no history of deafness and therefore no experience of how to approach it.  Without NDCS to turn to, families would be left to fight their way through the maze of bureaucracy, technology and medical information alone. 

Ruth has recently helped launch a playgroup for parents of pre-schoolers with a hearing loss and Paul has embarked on a charity run and bike ride to raise money for NDCS.  “If it wasn’t for the help and support of the National Deaf Children’s Society, I don’t know how I would have begun to cope” says Paul.  A year on, and thanks to the fantastic support we have received, I now know that anything is possible for Jack. He’s such a joy; a real daddy’s boy. I wouldn’t change a thing; we love him for being him.”

Thank you for your help in enabling NDCS to support families like the Neesham’s - £25 pays for a visit from a Family Officer to the family home, whereas £15 pays for 30 minutes of free confidential support and information via the Helpline.  A small cost considering the huge impact it has for a family.

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