"Our son Toby was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when he was just 8 weeks old. It was for us a devastating moment as we knew very little about deafness and even less about the support and technology available for families like ours. We assumed immediately that his would be a world of silence and signing.
“Then, by chance, we attended our first outing arranged by a local deaf children’s society and another parent mentioned that her son went to The Elizabeth Foundation. She described it as an amazing charity that had helped her son immeasurably.
“Following this glowing recommendation, and with nothing to lose, we drove the 50 miles to the centre and met with staff from the charity. The enthusiasm, positivity, reassurance and knowledge made us feel like we had really found a place for Toby which would help him have the very best start in life.
“On that initial visit to the Foundation we saw deaf pre-school children speaking clearly, following instructions and, most importantly, having fun while they learned! We knew it was the perfect environment for Toby to reach his potential.
“We started attending the baby group when Toby was just seven months old. The support from the team and the introduction to other parents in a similar position has been invaluable. We learned so much information in those first few months and we felt more confident about supporting our son with his listening and language development. The sessions were very fun and practical as well – lots of music, singing and dancing. There was never a dull (or quiet) moment.
“Nearly three years later, and having been fitted with Cochlear Implants, Toby is thriving and The Elizabeth Foundation have been there for us every step of the way. We are truly grateful for all their support.
“Toby is currently attending the pre-school at The Elizabeth Foundation, which he goes to twice a week. There is a maximum of eight children in the class, acoustically treated classrooms and specialist speech and language therapy, as well as incredibly dedicated specialist teachers able to meet the needs of a deaf child learning to speak and listen. It is such a unique learning environment and we feel so fortunate to be able to attend.
“My hope is that Toby grows up a deaf child, proud of who he is and with every opportunity available to him. Thanks to the wonderful support we’ve had as a family from The Elizabeth Foundation, that certainly seems possible.”
Claire Shek, Toby’s mother