Print this page

Deafness is no barrier for Jessica

When, aged just 20 months, Jessica’s parents were told that pneumococcal meningitis had left their daughter profoundly deaf in both ears, their biggest fear was for her future.  As we find out from her Mum Lynn though, being deaf has spurred Jessica, now 16, on to become a great role model and a valued member of her local community.

In January 1999, Jessica, then just a toddler, had a seemingly innocuous tummy upset, but by the next morning, her condition had worsened and her parents, Lynn and Andrew, rushed her to hospital, where the deadly disease was diagnosed.  Her recovery was a huge relief to her parents, but soon after, routine tests revealed that Jessica’s hearing had been damaged.  Lynn had noticed she wasn’t responding to sound any more “ I tried to ignore it, pretended it was lack of concentration.  She’d been so ill, now we were being told she could be deaf – it was a lot to cope with,” says Lynn.

In despair, Lynn remembered the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) leaflet she’d been given at the hospital and contacted the Freephone Helpline.  She talked things through and gained support and information about some of the challenges and decisions that lay ahead.  The family joined a local NDCS group so Jessica could meet other deaf children and Lynn and Andrew could talk to other parents, helping them all to realise there were other people experiencing similar issues.

As the years passed, whenever Lynn felt Jessica needed more support, she has been able to call on her NDCS Family Officer, Wendy, for help.  “Anything I don’t know, Wendy is there to guide me; if there’s something she doesn’t know she’ll find the answers,” says Lynn.

Lynn and Andrew have always been determined that deafness won’t hold Jessica back.  They encouraged her to go on NDCS weekends and week-long activity holidays, which have improved her confidence and where she met other deaf young people and learnt sign language.

Jessica’s selfless approach to life means that you are likely to find the teenager volunteering up to three evening a week at various local projects.  In particular, she helps at multi-skills sports club, where she signs to a seven-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome so he can join in the activities.  She also helps coach a netball team, assists at a gifted and talented club and sits on two local panels where she speaks up for deaf children in her home town.  In recognition of her valuable contribution to her community, she was nominated to carry the Olympic Torch in the run-up to the 2012 Games.

It’s clear that Lynn and Andrew’s support, Jesicca’s own determination, and the help of the NDCS have resulted in a confident and ambitious young woman.  “We’re so proud of Jessica and always encouraged her to be strong and not used deafness as an excuse.  The NDCS has always been there for us.” Said Lynn.

Your support is helping other families just like Jessica’s, many of whom are just starting out on their journey with their deaf child, and will need the support of the NDCS for the years ahead.  Thank you.

Send to a friendBack to top

Send to a friend

* Mandatory Fields