Sisters want Auditory Verbal Therapy available on NHS

Kelly Morgan,BBC News, Wiltshire

The sisters tell BBC Radio Wiltshire they want the therapy made more widely available

Two sisters are hoping more funding will be made available so all deaf children can access Auditory Verbal Therapy.

Sade Oram, 25, and her younger sister Topaz, 23, were diagnosed profoundly deaf as toddlers and fitted with cochlear implants.

The pair, from Warminster in Wiltshire, describe the Auditory Verbal Therapy they received as a main contributor to their “success in life”, a service that helped them to listen and speak.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the government is “committed to improving outcomes and experiences for all children with hearing loss”.

grey placeholderTopaz Oram with her hair tied up to show the cochlear implant on the right side of her head

Topaz and Sade wear cochlear implants describing them as the “equipment to hear” with Auditory Verbal Therapy providing the “tools to listen”

The charity that provides this therapy, Auditory Verbal UK, is calling for the government to fund this therapy through the NHS, reporting that only 10% of children who could benefit from the therapy have access to it.

When a profoundly deaf child is fitted with hearing technologies the brain will hear noises for the first time without an understanding of what those noises are.

Auditory Verbal Therapy works by using play to help deaf children to make sense of those noises.

Topaz Oram said cochlear implants gave the sisters the “equipment to hear” but Auditory Verbal Therapy gave them the “tools to listen”.

Once the brain can listen effectively, speech generally follows.

‘Heart-breaking’

The sisters described the limited availability of Auditory Verbal Therapy as “heart-breaking” adding they believe it to be a main factor in their “success in life”.

Sade Oram was fitted with her first cochlear implant at three-years-old, shortly after she said her first words at a Auditory Verbal UK therapy session.

Mother to the sisters, Victoria Oram, said: “When the girls started to say words it was just unreal.

“We thought they would never do that, it was incredible.”

After a year of Auditory Verbal Therapy Sade attended main stream school she said: “(I had) the same vocabulary, if not more, than my hearing peers.”

grey placeholderTopaz and Sade Oram playing with children at Leaping Frogs Nursery using different coloured objects

Topaz Oram (left) and sister Sade (right) now work at Leaping Frogs Nursery in Zeals

The charity Auditory Verbal UK, who deliver Auditory Verbal Therapy, reported that only 10% of children who could benefit from the therapy have access to it because there is not a sufficient number of trained therapists to deliver the service.

Anita Grover, the charity’s chief executive, said she wants to see “further investment”.

She added this would allow a “sufficient numbers of trained therapists so that this programme becomes an option for all families of deaf children under the age of five”.

grey placeholderTopaz, Victoria and Sade Oram pictured arm in arm, smiling

Topaz Oram (left), Victoria Oram (centre) and Sade Oram (right)

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said they “expect” the NHS locally to provide adequate services.

“The government is committed to improving outcomes and experiences for all children with hearing loss, and we offer a £5,000-a-year grant to support speech and language therapists in training.

“We expect local NHS commissioners to provide adequate services for non-hearing children, and we are providing the NHS with record funding of nearly £165bn a year by the end of this parliament.”

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