Eight-year-old Orson Grimer, who was born severely deaf, met MPs in Westminster on Tuesday 18 October urging the Government to support and fund the life-changing programme which helped him learn to listen and speak.
Orson (8) and his family from Hertfordshire, joined Auditory Verbal UK – the charity which supported them – in the Houses of Parliament ahead of Loud Shirt Day on Friday 21 October, an international awareness day for challenging perceptions of what deaf children can achieve.
Orson met more than 20 cross-party MPs, including Caroline Noaks and Rosie Duffield, who sponsored the event, as well as Angela Rayner and Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness, Lilian Greenwood. He spoke to them about deaf children having the same opportunities that he has had and Auditory Verbal UK’s mission to ensure every family who wants their deaf child to learn to listen and talk to be able to access an Auditory Verbal programme through the NHS and publicly funded services in their local area.
Orson’s Mum Avril said: ‘We took the decision to support Orson to learn to listen and speak and with the help Auditory Verbal UK it has changed not just Orson’s life but our life as a family. Being deaf is not a learning disability and all deaf children should be given the opportunity to access the right support for them so they can achieve their potential.
‘We really hope our message that urgent support and funding is needed was not only heard by the MPs we met but that they take it back and share it with colleagues to make the change needed.’
Anita Grover, Chief Executive, Auditory Verbal UK said: ‘All children have the right to develop language and communication so that they can achieve their potential in life. Access to the language and communication environment is key to this development. For children who are born deaf, especially into hearing families with no experience of hearing loss, skilled and sensitive early support is vital if they are to develop the language and communication skills they need to be ready to start school alongside their hearing peers. Early and effective support is vital whether parents wish for their child to use spoken language, sign language or both.
‘We know that 92 percent of deaf children who could benefit from Auditory Verbal therapy are unable to access it. Even in a time of economic uncertainty, analysis* shows that investment in the future for all deaf children reaps huge economic and social benefit and more than repays the investment made. But we need action now.
‘We want to thank all those MPs who met Orson and our team yesterday and urge them and colleagues to back our #HearUsNow campaign to ensure all families who want their deaf child to learn to listen and talk to have the opportunity to access Auditory Verbal therapy through public funded services.’
Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK) is the only UK charity offering the specialist family-centred play based programme which maximises hearing technology like hearing aids and cochlear implants and equips families with the skills to support the development of their child’s listening and spoken language.
AVUK’s campaign, Hear Us Now, want the 7,200 deaf children under 5 in the UK to have the opportunity to access to Auditory Verbal therapy if they want their child to use spoken language.
Born prematurely and diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears at his newborn hearing screening Orson attended Auditory Verbal UK’s specialist family-centred programme for two years before graduating with language skills ahead of his hearing peers. Now he is doing well at school where he proudly talks about being deaf and sharing how a greater understand can help. Together with his family and schools they have raised £12,000 for Loud Shirt Day over the past two years by completing a range of challenges and events including running, scootering, reading and a fashion show. Orson is continuing his fundraising efforts this year with a cupcake sale and quiz and more support from his school.