Read Caitlin's story
“I was born in Northampton and there wasn’t a neonatal screening programme there at that time. My mum and I moved to Portsmouth when I was one. A week after my second birthday, I was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss. I had my hearing aids fitted by the audiologists working in The Elizabeth Foundation within a few days.
"I started to attend toddler sessions with my mum at The Elizabeth Foundation and settled into the group very quickly. After six months, I was in preschool and then at three years old I had a cochlear implant on one side. Slowly but surely, I was hearing new sounds for the first time and my speech began to develop. I made friends that I am still in touch with today, it is important to me to have both my deaf and hearing friends.
"I believe that The Elizabeth Foundation gave me the best possible start with my education and development. I grew in confidence as I knew I wasn’t alone and proudly walked onto the stage as Mary in the Christmas nativity. Whilst I was ready to leave the Foundation for “big school”, my mum wasn’t! After staying to help in preschool as a volunteer she became a paid member of the education team and is still there (I’m not sure she’ll ever leave!).
"Unfortunately, four years after having my first cochlear implant surgery we found out that it had begun to fail. Within a few months my other ear was implanted and later that year my original implant was replaced. Over the years, I have been back and forth with using my sequential (second) implant as I couldn’t get used to it, so have decided to just use my original. I know that I can try using the sequential implant again at any time, but for now I am comfortable and doing well with one.
"I am now nineteen and have just finished three years at college studying Travel and Tourism. It has been a challenging year with COVID-19 as I had to finish my college course remotely whilst in lockdown. Online learning and video calls brought new challenges but I achieved D*D*D* which is the highest possible grade for the Level 3 BTEC Qualification. To top it off, I won a Bronze Award in the Pearson BTEC Hospitality, Travel and Tourism Learner of 2020. This was a massive boost for my confidence as I realised that I can do anything and not let my deafness define me.
"I am deaf and determined, who knows what the future will hold in these uncertain times. I will be forever grateful for all of the support I have had. It has made me who I am today."
"I believe that The Elizabeth Foundation gave me the best possible start with my education and development...I will be forever grateful for all of the support I have had. It has made me who I am today."