Read Ethan's story
"Hi my name is Ethan. I have a sensorineural hearing loss and have been deaf since birth. My diagnosis of deafness was picked up as part of the newborn screening program and I received my first hearing aids at just 5 weeks old.
"My nan used to bring me to The Elizabeth Foundation every week, starting from when I was a baby until I went to mainstream school at age 5. It became a very special place for my nan, just as much as it did for me. Together we joined in the baby and toddler classes, where I made good progress and eventually moved up to the preschool classes.
"With lots of learning activities - from arts and crafts, reading, cooking, sports day and digging! I had a great time without realising that I was always learning what different sounds meant, building my vocabulary and learning how to put sentences together. By the time I graduated at age 5, and went on to school, I had developed strong communication skills.
"At age 12 I decided to investigate cochlear implants (CI). I did a lot of research on the internet myself, spoke to my audiologist, parents and friends, before deciding it was right for me. In December 2019 I went for CI assessment and was offered bilateral implants, giving me a better chance to access sound from both ears – surround sound if you like.
"I was implanted successfully in 2020. For me, it’s been absolutely the right decision to have cochlear implants – and I haven’t looked back since.
"I’m now at school, getting ready for GCSEs. I am fortunate to be at a mainstream school which has a Resource Base for deaf students led by a qualified Teacher of the Deaf. The Base gives me a sense of community, despite other pupils being of different ages and having different interests, we share the commonality of being deaf and understand what it is like to be deaf; we don’t have to explain ourselves or hearing loss to each other, and we also get it when someone just needs some space/quiet time. I haven’t met anyone else who is deaf in my local area, so again being with other deaf people at school is important to me.
"I really enjoy sport and I started playing tennis aged 4. Through my one of my coaches at Swanmore Tennis Club, I was introduced to the Deaf tennis run by the LTA and have been part of the Deaf Development Squad since 2018.I love playing tennis and having the opportunity to play with other deaf players has been amazing. When I’m with my deaf tennis friends we completely understand each other’s experiences, and we can discuss having CIs as we trust each other – though a lot of the time we are just laughing together or playing tennis!
"I won the GB Deaf Junior doubles in 2019. I recently went to Germany for my first international tournament to compete in the 3rd Open Deaf Youth Tennis Cup. I was very proud to represent my country! I’d not flown without my parents before and or with my CIs so had some trepidation, but it was a great experience. Best of all, I managed to win the doubles bringing back gold and came 5th overall in the singles. I’m really looking forward to my next major tournament.
"When I leave school, I want to continue with my tennis, but also looking ahead, want to study to become a sports physiotherapist for both deaf and hearing individuals.
"At the moment I’m also learning British Sign language (BSL). This will come in handy when I’m on the tennis court as I can’t lip read over distances, and being frank, sometimes I don’t always want to talk if the environmental sounds around me become overwhelming, or I’m tired. Having different ways to communicate – speech, lip-reading and BSL is right for me and I have been encouraged by everyone around me to make my own communication choices."
"I had a great time without realising that I was always learning ... By the time I graduated at age 5, and went on to school, I had developed strong communication skills."